A criminal proceeding was scheduled for trial charging a lawyer with the crime of criminal solicitation in the fourth degree and attempted tampering with a witness in the third degree. The allegation asserts that the attorney and his client attempted to prevent the witness from testifying against the offender by engaging another person to threaten the witness who was charged with domestic violence..
Attached to the information is a sworn supporting statement from the person who threatens the witness. Subsequently, the complainant submitted an application of an order directing the unsealing of the files and records of the county’s criminal courts, the county’s district attorney’s office and the county’s police department.
The complainant seeks the unsealing of an indictment which pertains to the youthful offender adjudication of a young man who is allegedly represented by the lawyer. Later, the complainant had made a representation to the court. They contend that they are entitled to the records containing the information sought. Sex was not an issue.
The complainant’s papers were served upon the former attorney who represented the youthful offender. But, the counsel submitted an affirmation opposing any unsealing of the records since his client is not himself on trial in district court on any criminal matter, and the unsealing of the record would violate his privacy right. The counsel also advised the court that he has spoken with the mother of the youthful offender, and she persistently objects to the unsealing of the record, and her son felt the same way.
Sources revealed that the justice already made a ruling not to allow any information involving the youthful offender adjudication be admitted into evidence during the trial without a court order. Petit larceny was not a charge.
Based on records, youths charged with crimes alleged to have been committed when they were 16 to 19 years old, and persons charged as juvenile offenders are, with some exceptions, eligible for youthful offender status. In addition, eligible youths are tried as criminal offenders. Upon conviction, if the court makes a youthful offender finding, the conviction is considered vacated and replaced by the youthful offender finding. The youthful offender finding and sentence imposed together constitute youthful offender adjudication.
The instant application by the complainant presents one of the rare and extraordinary circumstances that require the court to exercise its inherent powers.
The complainant also demonstrated a compelling need to unseal the court record on the youthful offender adjudication. The facts derived from the youthful offender adjudication are inextricably interconnected with the pending prosecution of the lawyer. The charges against the lawyer are allegedly derived from his conduct in representing the eligible youthful offender prior to indictment. The complainant cannot prosecute their case without some of the information requested from the sealed file.
Consequently, the complainant’s request to disclose the fact is granted, to the extent that the court will disclose felony complaint and a copy of the indictment to the complainant. The complainant can also present the underlying acts that resulted in the youthful offender adjudication through the testimony of their witnesses, and the records do not have to be unsealed for the purpose.
The complainant’s request for disclosure of the fact that the lawyer represented the youthful offender is granted. The complainant’s request to obtain information that the lawyer had been arraigned and had requested an adjournment of the case is also granted.
The complainant’s request to disclose the location of the offense and the home address of the witness can be testified to by the complainant’s own witness.
The complainant is prohibited from introducing the criminal conviction which was vacated upon the youthful offender adjudication and the sentence imposed under the indictment.
Upon the conclusion of the trial in district court, the complainant is directed to return the items to the clerk of the court to be sealed immediately. The court records are also ordered to remain sealed.
Accordingly, the court does not have the legal authorization to unseal the files of the office of the district attorney. Furthermore, the complainant’s request to unseal the records of the county’s police department is also denied.
If you’re a victim of a crime and you want to seek help, you can ask the Nassau County Order of Protection Attorney for legal assistance. However, if you are a young individual who committed an offense, you can ask for legal guidance from the Nassau County Criminal Lawyer or Nassau County Family Lawyers. Simply drop by or call Stephen Bilkis and Associates office.