The Second Department, reversing defendant’s conviction, determined the trial judge’s response to a jury note did not comply with Criminal Procedure Law 310.30. The note requested that the court “define clearly acting in concert:”
Here, the jury note requested, among other things, that the Supreme Court “define clearly acting in concert.'” The court did not show the note to the attorneys or read it into the record before formulating a response. In apprising counsel of the contents of that note, the court omitted the words “define clearly” and stated only, “They want acting in concert. I will read that back.” After the jury returned to the courtroom, the court again mischaracterized the note, stating: “[I]t says define acting in concert. Okay, I am going to read my acting in concert and I will read it slow for you.” The court then reread its instructions on acting in concert.
The jury’s request to “define clearly” was not a request for a “mere ministerial readback” of the Supreme Court’s charge … . Meaningful notice of a jury’s note “means notice of the actual specific content of the jurors’ request. Manifestly, counsel cannot participate effectively or adequately protect the defendant’s rights if this specific information is not given” … . The court’s failure to provide counsel with meaningful notice of a substantive jury note was a mode of proceedings error … , which requires reversal of the judgment and a new trial … . People v Gough, 2016 NY Slip Op 05873, 2nd Dept 8-24-16
CRIMINAL LAW (JUDGE FAILED TO GIVE COUNSEL MEANINGFUL NOTICE OF THE CONTENTS OF A JURY NOTE, CONVICTION REVERSED)/JURY NOTES (CRIMINAL LAW, JUDGE FAILED TO GIVE COUNSEL MEANINGFUL NOTICE OF THE CONTENTS OF A JURY NOTE, CONVICTION REVERSED)