REVERSIBLE ERROR TO RECONSIDER THE VERDICT.
The First Department determined, in this bench trial, the court's failure to notify counsel, prior to summations, that it would consider a lesser included offense (attempted robbery) was reversible error. After the court found defendant guilty of attempted robbery, upon objection, the court allowed defense counsel to reopen his summation and issued another verdict. The First Department held the trial court did not have the power to reconsider the case after verdict:
The trial court's failure to comply with CPL 320.20(5) by not notifying the parties that it intended to consider a lesser included offense until after it rendered the original verdict, constitutes reversible error. “After formal rendition of a verdict at a bench trial, a trial court lacks authority to reweigh the factual evidence and reconsider the verdict” … . Here, it is undisputed that upon defendant's CPL 330.30 motion, the court reopened summations, and rendered a new verdict. Although this Court has previously held that failure to comply with CPL 320.20(5) constitutes harmless error when the defendant has the opportunity to address the lesser included offenses in a new summation … , the same cannot be said here where the trial court attempted to rectify its error only after it rendered the verdict. …
We agree that the double jeopardy clause bars a new trial on the original indictment. The People must secure a new indictment if they wish to pursue further prosecution on the lesser included charge … . People v Agola, 2016 NY Slip Op 04004, 1st Dept 5-24-16
CRIMINAL LAW (REVERSIBLE ERROR TO RECONSIDER THE VERDICT)/VERDICTS (CRIMINAL LAW, REVERSIBLE ERROR TO RECONSIDER THE VERDICT)/LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE (IN A BENCH TRIAL, REVERSIBLE ERROR TO FAIL TO NOTIFY COUNSEL, PRIOR TO SUMMATIONS, OF CONSIDERATION OF A LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE)