WRITTEN BY: Mimi Rocah, a former Federal Prosecutor and Pace Law Distinguished Criminal Justice Fellow
It was great to see such an amazing turnout at the November 6 talk with former ATF Mike Burke about guns and gun violence. Please keep reading and talking about the issues. Here are some good follow-up reads:
- Gliffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Categories of Prohibited People, (last visited Nov. 16, 2017) (A summary of prohibited persons and categories under federal law).
- NPR Morning Edition, In Texas and Beyond, Mass Shootings Have Roots in Domestic Violence (Nov. 7, 2017) (An article about the correlation between domestic violence and mass shootings).
- Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen & Deanna Pan, US Mass Shootings, 1982-2017: Data From Mother Jones’ Investigation, Mother Jones (last updated Nov. 15, 2017) (Mother Jones’ take on gun violence statistics that was referenced in the Nov. 6, 2017 talk at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University).
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Domestic Abusers Are Barred from Gun Ownership, but Often Escape the Law, New York Times (Nov. 6, 2017) (An explanation of why the Texas shooter’s Domestic Violence conviction should have barred him from obtaining a weapon).
On June 6, 2013, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division, First Department order vacating George Oliveras’s murder conviction. In 1999, Mr. Oliveras voluntarily went to a police station when he heard police were looking for him in connection with a murder. Even though Mr. Oliveras’s mother informed police prior to the interrogation that he suffered from mental illness, detectives interrogated Oliveras for six and a half hours – eliciting statements that were the only direct evidence connecting him to the crime. The description provided by a 911 caller did not match Oliveras and bullets found at the scene did not connect him to the crime.
Defense counsel moved to suppress Oliveras’ in-custody statements as false and coerced. But, counsel failed to conduct the investigation and analysis necessary to succeed in his strategy. Trial counsel failed to subpoena his client’s mental health records, and did not hire an expert. Oliveras was convicted.
Post-conviction, the Office of the Appellate Defender brought a C.P.L. 440.10 motion to vacate, arguing trial counsel was ineffective. After a hearing, the trial court dismissed the motion, but the Appellate Division First Department reversed and ordered a new trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed, explaining that counsel failed to pursue the minimal investigation required under the circumstances.
The strategy to present defendant’s mental capacity and susceptibility to police interrogation could only be fully developed after counsel’s investigation of the fact and law, which required review of the records.
New York Courts are finally looking beyond the record on appeal and requiring counsel to undertake investigation demanded by the facts of the case.
To read the decision, click here.