The People of the State of New York are the respondents and Zachary R. Gibian is the appellant in this case being held in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. The defendant is appealing a judgment made by the Supreme Court of Suffolk County that was issued on the 17th of January, 2007 and convicted him of murder in the second degree.
A New York Criminal Lawyer said the defendant identifies three grounds for this appeal to reverse his conviction. The first is for the preclusion on the grounds of hearsay of the statements that were made by the defendant’s mother. The second is juror misconduct during deliberations. The third is the summary curtailment of the closing statement made by the defense counsel.
On the issue of precluding the testimony from the defendant about a statement that his mother allegedly made to him on the day the victim was murdered that concerned how she killed the victim. The defendant declared that only after his mother made this statement that he confess to the murder in effort to protect her. The defendant argues that the statement of his mother would establish his motive to protect her by removing evidence from the crime scene and confessing to the police. This testimony was not allowed by the trial court on the basis of hearsay. We feel that this preclusion was in error as the defendant is allowed to place secondary evidence in front of the jury in order to establish the truth.
The second issue in the case is the apparent misconduct of the jury during deliberations. There were several instances of misconduct that arose while the jury was in deliberations. One such instance was when the court was advised by a member of the jury that juror number 11 was interjecting her professional knowledge into the deliberations by voicing legal opinions. Other instances came up as well. The trial court did not appropriately respond to these issues of misconduct, which prohibited the defendant from having a fair trial.
The final issue is the fact that the trial court exercised its discretion during the summation made by the defense to impose a time limit. An NYC Criminal Lawyer said there had no limitation of time announced before the defense counsel began their final argument. In a criminal trial the closing argument from the defendant’s counsel is the time where the counsel closes out all of their arguments in the matter. Not allowing the counsel to complete their argument is unfair to the defendant, especially when there is no advanced warning that the length of their summation would be limited. In this case, the trial court did not inform the defense counsel of a time limit and suddenly during the middle of the closing argument imposed the limit. This impaired the defense counsel from making an effective closing argument for his client.
After reviewing the facts of the case the court orders that the original judgment be reversed on the law. The matter will be remitted to the Supreme Court of Suffolk County for a new trial to be held.
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