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It is well recognized that the power to vacate judgment upon the ground of newly discovered evidence and to grant a new trial rests within the discretion of the court. Similarly, whether or not to hold a hearing to resolve questions of fact on a motion to vacate judgment upon the ground of newly discovered evidence is discretionary with the court to which the motion is addressed. Where the defendants do not contest the People's version of the facts, a hearing to resolve questions of fact is not necessary. Moreover, to grant such a hearing where the court is able to reach its conclusion on the papers alone would serve no end of justice but would only protract futile litigation.
In 1989, a group of juveniles went on a rampage in a park for an hour, attacking several persons. Defendants implicated themselves and each other in a number of the crimes that had occurred in the park. In 1990, defendants were convicted in two separate trials on charges connected with, inter alia, the rape and assault on a woman who came to be known as the "Central Park jogger." In January 2002, a convicted murderer and serial rapist confessed that he, alone, committed the rape and other crimes concerning the jogger; DNA testing confirmed his participation in the rape. The probability that it was not his semen found in the jogger's cervix was 6 billion to 1. Defendants filed motions for a new trial under N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 440.30, based on newly discovered evidence, that another person committed the rape. The motions were consolidated.
Did the newly discovered evidence entitle Defendants to a new trial on all of the charges, not just those involving the jogger?
In applying N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 440.30, the court noted that this evidence could not have been produced at trial in 1990, even with due diligence on defendants' part. The court agreed with the People that the newly discovered evidence entitled defendants to a new trial on all of the charges, not just those involving the jogger, as it would likely have raised questions about the reliability of defendants' admissions concerning the other victims similar to those raised about their confessions to being accomplices to rape.