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People v. Huntley

Court of Appeals of New York

October 14, 1964, Argued ; January 7, 1965, Decided

No Number in Original


 [*74]  [**181]  [***840]    This is one of the cases in which we are under compulsion to work out -- without benefit of controlling decision, statute or rule -- an appropriate procedure for providing the separate [****8]  hearing mandated by Jackson v. Denno (378 U.S. 368 [1964]) as to voluntariness of a confession received in evidence against a defendant at his trial. For the present and tentatively we set out some of the rules to be applied in these matters, pending further development by the courts or by the Legislature, or both.

 [*75]   [***841]  In 1960 appellant Huntley was, after trial in the former Court of General Sessions, convicted of robbery, first degree, and given a prison sentence which he is now serving. At the trial there had been put before the jury a complete confession by defendant, the voluntary character of which was explored at a voir dire examination and submitted to the jury as a question of fact. Huntley's appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department, resulted in an affirmance (15 A D 2d 735 [Feb., 1962]). Defendant then made, to an Associate Judge of this court, a timely application (Code Crim. Pro., § 520) for leave to appeal to us. The application was denied on April 18, 1962. After the Supreme Court's Jackson v. Denno decision (supra) came down in June, 1964, defendant's application for reconsideration of his section 520 application [****9]  was granted by our Associate Judge who, on October 2, 1964, signed a certificate allowing defendant to appeal to this court. A notice of appeal was filed and served a few days later.

We must first decide whether the section 520 Code of Criminal Procedure certificate thus granted to defendant after previous denial and reconsideration thereof is effective to bring the Jackson v. Denno (supra) question to us. Despite People v. Muller (11 N Y 2d 154, cert. den. 371 U.S. 850) we hold that it is. Muller, too, had been denied leave to appeal to this court and that denial had, several years later, been set aside by an Associate Judge of this court and an appeal allowed, so as to test the question of whether the Supreme Court's 1961 holding in Mapp v. Ohio (367 U.S. 643) could thus be taken advantage of, long after the usual time for appeal to  [**182]  us had expired. We held in Muller's case that the appeal, allowed by a Judge after an earlier denial, was out of "the normal appellate process" and so could not get the benefit of the Mapp rule. However, our determination in Muller does not fit the present situation.  The Supreme Court's ruling in [****10]  Jackson v. Denno necessarily meant or assumed that its new requirement of a separate hearing as to voluntariness of confessions applied as well to criminal judgments which were no longer in the "normal appellate process".  The relief granted by the Supreme Court to Jackson was in a Federal habeas corpus proceeding, brought long after State appellate procedures had been used and exhausted. It follows that (overruling so much of People v. Hovnanian, 22 A D 2d 686 [Oct.,  [*76]  1964], as holds otherwise' we must take this appeal, order a confession-voluntariness hearing before the trial court and meanwhile hold the appeal here undecided while we await the results of that hearing (see People v. Coffey, 11 N Y 2d 142).

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15 N.Y.2d 72 *; 204 N.E.2d 179 **; 255 N.Y.S.2d 838 ***; 1965 N.Y. LEXIS 1680 ****

The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Charles Huntley, Appellant

Prior History:  [****1]  Reported below, 15 A D 2d 735.

Appeal, by permission of an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, upon reconsideration, from a judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department, entered February 1, 1962, affirming a judgment of the former Court of General Sessions of the County of New York (Abraham N. Geller, J.), rendered upon a verdict convicting defendant of robbery in the first degree.

Disposition: Determination of appeal withheld and case remitted to the Supreme Court, New York County, for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion herein.


habeas corpus, confession, courts, coram nobis, appellate process, postconviction, exhausted, cases, trial court, remedies, question of fact, criminal trial, convictions

Civil Procedure, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, General Overview, Criminal Law & Procedure, Commencement of Criminal Proceedings, Interrogation, Voluntariness, Evidence, Exemptions, Confessions, Postconviction Proceedings, Coram Nobis, Preliminary Proceedings, Preliminary Hearings, Burdens of Proof, Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Trials, Prosecution