Friday, March 20, 2009

Insufficent Evidence of Filing a False Instrument

In People v. Alexis Oberlander, the Fourth Department determined that there was legally insufficient evidence of filing a false instrument in the first degree. The government's allegation was that Ms. Oberlander defrauded county welfare services by failing to note on her application for DSS that she shared her home with another adult. The court noted that:
"Two prosecution witnesses who were frequent visitors at defendant's residence, including one who stayed at defendant's residence for a few months, testified that Banks lived at defendant's residence, and defendant's landlord testified that he believed that Banks lived at the residence. The basis for the testimony of those prosecution witnesses, however, was only that they often observed Banks at defendant's residence. The People failed to present other evidence to support the conclusion of those witnesses that Banks lived at defendant's residence, e.g., evidence that Banks received his mail at the residence, performed household chores, or paid household bills (cf. People v Hure, 16 AD3d 774, 775, lv denied 4 NY3d 854; Stumbrice, 194 AD2d at 933). "
The court further noted that the defendant's evidence contradicted the government's position:
"although Banks was often at her residence and slept there 2 to 3 nights per week, he did not live there and spent the remainder of the time at another woman's home or at the homes of his family members. Three other defense witnesses who were often at defendant's residence testified that Banks was frequently at the residence but that they did not observe any of his personal effects there, nor did they have any knowledge that he lived there. A fourth defense witness testified that she rarely saw Banks at defendant's residence and had no knowledge that he lived with defendant."
The court also reversed and granted a new trial on the one remaining count on the grounds that the trial court refused to grant a short adjournment to accommodate a defense witness.