Erroneous Admission of Evidence of Specific Prior Crimes and Bad Acts Required Reversal
The Fourth Department determined evidence of prior crimes and bad acts on the part of the defendant (which took place just prior to defendant’s arrest) were properly admitted to provide background information explaining the actions taken by the police. But other evidence of defendant’s prior crimes and bad acts should not have been admitted and the errors warranted a new trial:
… [A]lthough the court properly permitted the People to present evidence of the fact that he was on parole at the time of his arrest, the court erred in permitting the People to detail that he was on parole for a conviction of attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. The specific crime of which defendant was convicted does not constitute necessary background information, and it does not fit within any other recognized exception to the Molineux rule, i.e., motive, intent, identity, absence of mistake, or common plan or scheme … .
… [T]he court erred in ruling that defense counsel [in cross-examining a police officer] opened the door to the admission of additional evidence of uncharged crimes and prior bad acts that the court had initially precluded by an earlier determination. * * *
…[D]efense counsel did not challenge on cross-examination the officer’s credibility on the issue whether such prior interactions with defendant took place, thereby permitting the officer to fully explain the nature of the interactions… . People v Dowdell, 2015 NY Slip Op 08567, 4th Dept 11-20-15