A man is charged with a criminal contempt in the second degree and harassment in the second degree for conduct. It is alleged that such conduct was in violation of an order of protection issued by the Supreme Court over the matrimonial action between the man and his wife, the complaining witness.
The man then moved to dismiss the accusatory document based on the order of the Supreme Court over the matrimonial action asserting to transfer and merge the criminal action.
The man alleges that the Supreme Court is a court of unlimited and illimitable jurisdiction, empowering it to remove the instant criminal action from the court and merge it into the civil matrimonial action. But, the man’s argument fails in several respects. First, contrary to the man’s contention, the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the criminal action. Second, even assuming the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over the action, no mechanism exists to allow the alleged transfer to the Supreme Court.
With respect to the man’s claim that the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is absolutely unlimited, the said statement is not entirely accurate.
Based on records, the legislature has simply adopted a procedural mechanism by which the Supreme Court obtains jurisdiction over misdemeanors and violations, namely, by action of the grand jury. Pertinent with the aforementioned statement is the constitutional provision establishing the jurisdiction of the court over the prosecution of offenses not charged by indictment.
In addition, the consent of the parties to have the case moved to Supreme Court is entirely irrelevant. Sources revealed that a valid and sufficient accusatory document is a non-waivable jurisdictional prerequisite to a criminal prosecution. Further, the legislature had determined that an indictment by a grand jury or the filing of the superior court information is the two procedural mechanisms that give the Supreme Court the matter jurisdiction over the actions. The said two methods are the exclusive path to the Supreme Court that simply does not challenge the unlimited jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as given by the constitution.
Based on records, the Supreme Court justice, in her discretion, would be limited only to arraigning the man and setting bail. The court stated that no plea of guilty would be possible, nor could she preside over his trial.
In the case at bar, the man has been arraigned and bail has been set. Thus, even were the justice have to exercise her discretion to sit as a judge, there are no procedural matters left for the Supreme Court to entertain legally.
In answer to the man’s argument, the legislature has not deprived the Supreme Court of jurisdiction in the case and given exclusive jurisdiction to the court. Further, the Supreme Court does have concurrent jurisdiction with that of the criminal court over misdemeanors. Sources revealed that the authority can only be obtained by following the appropriate procedural mechanism and the procedural mechanism needed was the intervention of the grand jury.
There being no indictment with respect to the charges, the Supreme Court simply has no authority to try the case. Domestic Violence is in play.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court cannot assert the transfer of an action. In addition, a court which possesses a civil, as well as criminal jurisdiction does not act as a criminal court when acting solely in the exercise of its civil jurisdiction, and an order or determination made by such a court in its civil capacity is not an order or a determination of a criminal court.
Since the Supreme Court in the case has issued an order while exercising its civil jurisdiction over the matrimonial action, without the ability to exercise jurisdiction over the criminal action, its order is not a determination of a criminal court. Indeed, since the Supreme Court cannot validly exercise its jurisdiction in the instance absent an indictment or superior court information, its order is a nullity.
It should also be noted that the Legislature, in amending the law to provide concurrent jurisdiction over family offenses in both the criminal court and the family court declared in the strongest possible language that there were few more prevalent or serious problems confronting the people than domestic violence, which is more correctly regarded as criminal behavior rather than a private matter. Its intent in modifying both the criminal procedure law and the family court act concerning offenses was to declare that in the situation where domestic violence continues in violation of lawful court orders, actions under the law must remain in place as a necessary and available option.
The court stated that a clearer statement by the legislature that the power to prosecute domestic violence is of critical importance and it is clear that it was not the intent of the legislature to have criminal actions voided and subsumed into a civil action, particularly where the district attorney, a requisite party to the criminal action and the constitutional officer charged with prosecuting crimes committed within the county, is not a litigant before the Supreme Court in the matrimonial action.
Finally, as noted above, the court is fully aware that the Supreme Court is a court of general original jurisdiction. It is also true that any limitation on its jurisdiction must be consistent with the provisions of the state constitution. Therefore, when the legislature assert to give exclusive jurisdiction of certain actions to a court other than the Supreme Court, such legislation, if it involves an unconstitutional violation on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, will be struck down.
The court concludes that the legislature has not encroached on the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to exercise trial jurisdiction over a misdemeanor not involving the action of the grand jury or superior court information. Even assuming that the Supreme Court does have such trial jurisdiction that does not necessarily entail, it has the authority to transfer the instant case to itself especially to absent some legitimate procedural mechanism. The court cited an example and stated that if the man could have tried to divest the court of jurisdiction by moving before a justice of the Supreme Court and requesting that the district attorney present the misdemeanor charge to a grand jury. An indictment for a misdemeanor, if handed down, would then have given Supreme Court jurisdiction over the action. That motion, however, was never made. Indeed, the Supreme Court plainly has no constitutional authority to order the transfer of a criminal court action to itself is evidenced.
However, the constitutional provision, it gives the Supreme Court the power to transfer the criminal action to itself, and the said provision is not self-executing. Given the language that may be provided by law, it is clear that an act of the legislature is needed in order for Supreme Court to obtain the power to make such a transfer. With the exception, no enabling legislation, to the court’s knowledge, has been enacted. For that reason, no constitutional authority exists to transfer the action to the Supreme Court.
As a result, no legal reason having been presented requiring the relinquishment of its jurisdiction over the case, the man’s motion to dismiss the information, or in the alternative, to transfer the criminal action to the Supreme Court. The court therefore ordered to deny the matter in its entirety.
The law is broad especially for an ordinary citizen. It is important to be provided with legal guidance when facing or filing a lawsuit. Whenever you are in need of such assistance, you can approach the Kings County Criminal Attorney or Kings County Criminal Defense Lawyer. If you are facing a family related legal action, you can hire the Kings County Family Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.