Law School Case Brief
People v. Link - 107 Misc. 2d 973, 436 N.Y.S.2d 581 (Crim. Ct. 1981)
The Sixth Amendment provides that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.
Defendants Carol Link and Debra Meltsner were charged with the crime of prostitution. Defendants filed a motion for trial by jury in New York state court, claiming that CPL 340.40, which directed that the trial shall be before a single Judge, was unconstitutional because prostitution was not a petty but a "serious" offense requiring trial by jury under the Federal Constitution, Defendants further claimed that CPL 340.40 denied them "equal protection" by withholding the right to trial by jury in class B misdemeanor trials in New York County while permitting jury trials of such cases in the remainder of the State.
Should the court grant the motion for trial by jury?
The court held that prostitution, no matter how lightly punished, was a serious crime and could not be prosecuted without the right to trial by jury. To the extent it made such trial unavailable in New York County, and thus unavailable to Link and Meltsner, § 340.40(2) contravened the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution and was null. In light of the holding, the court deemed it unnecessary to reach and pass upon defendants' "equal protection" claim. The court ordered a trial by jury, but it stayed the order for 30 days to afford the prosecution adequate time to pursue its legal options.
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