Thursday, December 22, 2005

Decision Day (November/December 2005 Term)

The Fourth Department handed down decisions for the November/December 2005 term today. No standout opinions (although I guess defense attorneys should not complain after the two great Court of Appeals decisions handed down this week). For tonight, I will highlight People v Fuqua, a case that should serve as a cautionary tale to would-be criminals about the care and thought that needs to go into picking a proper street name--preferable one that will not come back to haunt you. The issue in Fuqua was whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to believe Mr. Fuqua was armed sufficient to justify the pat-down search for weapons that led to the discovery of drugs. The Court had no problem in finding such reasonable suspicion existed, in part because the "defendant's street name, "Blaze Off", related to defendant's propensity to use guns." (People v Fuqua, __ AD3d __ [available here].) For those defense attorneys employing a holistic approach to criminal defense work, perhaps it is worth considering advising your clients of the benefits of a wussy street name (perhaps Fuzzy or Cuddles). Sure, such a moniker does not exactly inspire fear; but neither does it give a police officer reason to believe you are carrying.

More on the other notable decisions from this terms packet (along with more on the two great Court of Appeals decisions decided this week) over the next few days.