Court Decision: Sixteen Counts Vacated Due to Suppression Court Error

Appellate Division, Second Department: People v. Lewis

Sixteen Counts Vacated Due to Suppression Court Error

Following a suppression hearing, the court concluded that the police officers had a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Lewis had committed a robbery, justifying his detention, an identification procedure, and a frisk that resulted in recovered items. At a bench trial, Mr. Lewis was subsequently convicted of numerous counts. The Appellate Division reversed the suppression ruling, agreeing with the defense that there was no justification to search Mr. Lewis’s pants pocket and remove a wallet, since there had been no testimony that the frisk indicated the presence of a weapon or anything that could have posed a danger to the officers. The police committed an additional constitutional violation by opening the wallet and conducting a warrantless search of its contents. Because these errors were not harmless, 16 counts and the corresponding sentences were vacated and a new trial was ordered.

Sarah B. Cohen represented Mr. Lewis