New York has created a system designed to streamline the problems that arise in prosecuting domestic violence cases in the court system. Historically, cases of domestic violence are often heard in several courts at the same time because of the very nature of the offenses. This is especially true if the domestic violence issue escalated through its continuation. A domestic violence case could conceivably begin as a subject violates traffic laws to either harass the other party or to get away from the other party. Since traffic infractions are considered to be minor legal torts below that of a misdemeanor. It would be historically sent to traffic court.
If after committing the traffic violation, the suspect then commits a misdemeanor crime, that crime would be heard in the state court of misdemeanor crimes. Felonies would be heard in the superior court of the state. Because, domestic violence cases often have elements in each of these courts, New York decided to pass the one case one judge policy. In this system, called the Integrated Domestic Violence system, one judge is assigned to one family. All of the cases that involve that family, from the most minor traffic to the highest felony are then heard by one judge appointed to their problem. In order for the judge to be able to hear all of the cases, the judge has to be a Supreme Court Justice.
In this case, a Kings County man was charged with harassment in the second degree because he was accused of making numerous harassing and threatening telephone calls to his ex-girlfriend. He and his ex-girlfriend have two children together which in and of itself qualifies these charges to be listed under domestic violence.
On January 18, 2007, a misdemeanor complaint was filed for three counts of aggravated harassment in the second degree. On January 31, 2007 an order was drafted transferring the action in this case from the Criminal Court (misdemeanor court) of Kings County, to the Supreme Court of Kings County in the Integrated Domestic Violence protocol. The misdemeanor complaint was resubmitted as an information dated February 7, 2007. A bench trial, (judge only, no jury) convicted the defendant of three counts of attempted aggravated harassment in the second degree. The defendant filed a motion to appeal his conviction.
The defense argues that the Integrated Domestic Violence section of the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction in his case because it was originally charged in the Criminal Court as a misdemeanor. He contends that because he was never indicted by a grand jury and a superior court information was never filed by the district attorney to make his case a felony, that the Supreme Court of Kings County did not have authority to try his case. He further contends that since he never waived his right to a preliminary hearing that would have resulted in an indictment by grand jury, there was no legislative mandate authorizing the transfer to the higher court.
The Honorable Justices hearing this appeal disagree. They state that as a matter of law, the higher courts have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute lesser offenses. The Justices maintain that this concurrent jurisdiction does not just relate to cases that have a minor or lesser case attached to a felony case. They contend that a higher court has the authority issued to it by the Constitution of the State of New York to try any case that is sent to it.
The Honorable Justices do state that the rule created to apply one judge to one family in essence guts the authority of the lower courts in such cases; but it holds that it is legal for it to do so. They suggest that the legalizing authority review the mode of procedure mandated by the Constitution and statute to ensure that a trial is not “irreparably tainted” by any errors. In this case, the Justices find that the case was not tainted by a lack of jurisdiction because the Supreme Court never acquired jurisdiction by an indictment. The Justices maintain that an indictment was not necessary in that the authority to transfer the misdemeanor case to the integrated Domestic Violence part of the Supreme Court is found in the New York State Constitution article VI subsection 28 and 30 as well as in Judiciary Law subsection 211.
What this means is that the chief judge has the authority to create all standards and administrative policies as they relate to the processing of cases through the court system. This right is provided by the New York State Constitution. The fact that the chief judge created the Integrated Domestic Violence protocol to be handled in the Supreme Court of the state makes the processing of cases in that manner valid. Therefore, reassignment of a misdemeanor case, which would not require an information, to the Supreme Court for adjudication would not require that the misdemeanor case then require an information which it did not beforehand. Constitutional provisions are “presumptively self-executing” as demonstrated in Brown v. State of New York, 89 N.Y.2d 172, 186, 652 N.Y.S.2d 223, 674 N.E.2d 1129. Therefore, removal by the Supreme Court of lower court cases to itself does not require implementing legislation. People, 377 N.Y.S.2d 718 set precedence that upheld the authority of the Supreme Court to exercise trial jurisdiction over misdemeanors even without an indictment or superior court information.
Clearly, this defendant’s case was a domestic violence case that was handled according to set standards for this type of case and was transferred to the Supreme Court properly. Because it was transferred and heard properly according to the Constitution of the State of New York, the Court determines that the defendant’s motion to dismiss his conviction on that ground is not valid. His conviction will stand.
Secondly, the defense argues that during the initial trial of the case, the victim testified that the defendant had committed another crime that he had not been charged with. His Lawyer objected to the testimony. The defense now claims that since the court sustained the objection, that a mistrial should have been called. The Justices in this case allege that since the trial was a bench trial before a judge, there was no jury that would have been swayed by the allegation. The court did not consider the allegation of the uncharged crime and the direction of the judge was not altered.
The decision of the Honorable Justices in this case is unanimous and the convictions for three counts of attempted aggravated harassment in the second degree will stand.
Issues of law are constantly changing. A person who is not specifically trained in the law cannot begin to know what all of their rights are without the assistance of a professional. Here at Steven Bilkis and Associates, we provide New York Order of Protection Attorneys, New York Domestic Violence Lawyers, New York Assault Attorneys, and New York Criminal lawyers. New York Family Lawyers will stand by you and ensure that your rights are protected. New York Personal Injury Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are considered. We make sure that you are rightfully awarded compensation for your suffering.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its Domestic Violence Lawyers has convenient offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, New York. Our Personal Injury Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a Domestic Violence Lawyer you could lose precious compensation to help with your medical bills and the trauma to you and your loved ones following such a frightening experience. This is true even if the Attorney for the assailant has not adequately made their case. In addition to Personal Injury Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend Criminal Lawyers who will protect your rights if you are ever arrested.