On January 18, 2011, an Erie County man was arrested in Buffalo City for one count of harassment in the second degree during an act of domestic violence. This case was scheduled to be heard in the Buffalo City Court. On the 26th of January the wife of the Erie County man and a third family member declared their readiness for trial in unrelated actions involving this family. These actions involved the custody of the Erie County couple’s child. Because these issues were in the court system simultaneously and New York has initiated the Integrated Domestic Violence section, these cases were sent to the Supreme Court to be reviewed. The courts wanted to see if these cases needed to be combined and transferred to the Supreme Court Integrated Domestic Violence Part, located in Erie County. After screening the pending cases associated with this family, the Supreme Court ruled that it would be appropriate to transfer the case to the Supreme Court Integrated Domestic Violence Part in order to promote the administration of justice.
The Erie County man’s pending, violation level matter and the family’s pending Family Court cases, were then transferred to the Supreme Court and the parties were ordered to appear before the Court on April 6, 2011.
The Erie County man has issued a motion for dismissal of his one count of harassment in the second degree since it is a violation level case that was transferred from the Buffalo City Court. He cites that the Supreme Court lacks the “requisite subject matter jurisdiction over that matter” in Criminal Procedure Law. He further cites CPL 10.20 which states that petty offenses (i.e. violation level) when charged as a sole count may not be tried in Supreme Court unless the offense is charged in an indictment which also charges a more serious crime. He continues to argue that the Court of Appeals decision in People v. Correa, 15 NY3d213 heard in 2010 supports his dismissal request because the Court ruled that the transfer authority was only confirming the Supreme Court’s transfer authority. He also argues that to grant the transfer authority to the Integrated Domestic Violence Part a sole count of a petty crime offense would encourage an “improper use of the Court’s resources.” He argues that the Supreme Court’s resources would be better served hearing more serious offenses. He argues that the Supreme Court should dispose of his minor violation for expediency and because it is beneath the Supreme Court to hear such trivial matters.
Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Haendiges responded that the state of New York Constitution grants the Chief Judge of the State of New York the authority to establish standards and administrative policies for the court systems throughout the state. This authority is specifically addressed as far as the reassignment of cases to and from the Supreme Court relevant to Article VI Judiciary subsection 19. It clearly outlines that the Supreme Court has the authority to transfer to itself “any action or proceeding originated or pending in another court within the judicial department other than the court of claims upon a finding that such a transfer will promote the administration of justice.” Judiciary Law subsection 211 (1)(a) also gives the Chief Judge the authority in conjunction with the Administrative Board and with consent of the Court of Appeals to set standards and administrative policy for use by the unified court system throughout the state. This gives them the power to transfer cases and even judges among all of the courts in the state. It was with this authority that the Chief Judge created the Integrated Domestic Violence Parts of the Supreme Court of New York. So, the Supreme Court Integrated Domestic Violence Part has the authority granted by the Chief Judge to transfer all cases simultaneously pending in a criminal court with those pending in civil or family court to the Supreme or Family Court because it involves the same people or family and it needs to be heard in one place. Only by hearing the cases as one can the court look at the totality of circumstances that the different cases create to promote the administration of justice.
The Court of Appeals has commented that the Criminal Procedure Law states that mere violations and misdemeanor cases will be heard in local criminal courts. However, if that law was interpreted to limit the power conferred by the Constitution of the State of New York to the Supreme Court, it would create a “significant constitutional issue.” It has after all, been made clear in other contexts that the “Legislature cannot by statute deprive the [Supreme Court] of one particle of its jurisdiction, derived from the Constitution (Article VI), although it may grant concurrent jurisdiction to some other court.” (People v. Correa, 15 NY3d 213, 229  Therefore, if the Legislature attempted to abridge, limit or qualify the jurisdiction, broad though it may be, which is given to the Supreme Court under article VI, subsection 7, it would be considered unconstitutional and void.
Justice Haendiges stated that the intention of the Chief Judge to create the Integrated Domestic Violence Part of the Supreme Court was so that the Court could see the totality of circumstances surrounding a family that has found itself in crisis due to domestic violence. Justice Haendiges states that the Integrated Domestic Violence Part of the Supreme Court has jurisdictional authority to dismiss or try the matter in that hearing. She further asserts that based on this information, the Erie County man’s request to dismiss his case is denied. The case will be forwarded to the Integrated Domestic Violence Part of the Supreme Court for disposition. The Court can then compare the testimony and circumstances surrounding the harassment charge with the custody issue involved. She contends that to view them as separate and apart would be a misappropriation of justice because it is clear that the issues at the heart of the custody hearing and the harassment are probably the same.
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.