Waiver of a Jury Trial in an Article 10 Sex-Offender Civil Commitment Proceeding Requires an On-the-Record Colloquy After Consultation with Counsel
The Second Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Chambers, in a matter of first impression, determined that the state and federal constitutions mandated an on-the-record waiver of the right to a jury trail in an Article 10 sex-offender civil commitment proceeding. Here, the respondent sent a letter to the judge explaining his reasons for wanting a non-jury trial. The letter was deemed insufficient to establish a knowing waiver.
… [A]respondent’s statutory right to a jury trial in an article 10 proceeding is protected by Article I, § 2 of the New York State Constitution, which provides that “[t]rial by jury in all cases in which it has heretofore been guaranteed by constitution shall remain inviolate forever.” * * *
In view of the fact that article 10 proceedings are civil in nature, “the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments … govern the scope of procedural due process” … . Accordingly, a respondent’s waiver of the right to a jury must comport with the procedural due process requirements under both the United States and New York Constitutions. * * *
With these general principles in mind, we hold that in order to accomplish a valid waiver of the right to a jury trial in an article 10 proceeding under Mental Hygiene Law § 10.07(b), and in accordance with due process, there must be an on-the-record colloquy, in order to ensure that the respondent understands the nature of the right, and that the respondent’s decision is knowing and voluntary after having had sufficient opportunity to consult with counsel … . * * *
We note, however, that a written waiver such as is mandated by CPL 320.10 in criminal proceedings is not required in order to satisfy the requirements of Mental Hygiene Law article 10 or due process … . Matter of State of New York v Ted B., 2015 NY Slip Op 06352, 2nd Dept 7-29-15