The Third Department, reversing County Court, determined defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction by guilty plea should not have been denied without a hearing. Defendant presented DNA evidence of a genetic inability to metabolize certain medications he was taking to address his mental health. In addition, defendant raised issues concerning ineffective assistance of counsel. Defense counsel, who was aware of defendant’s mental health issues, had sent a letter to the court requesting to withdraw as counsel immediately after defendant told the court he felt coerced into pleading guilty. Three days later defendant entered a guilty plea saying he was not coerced. The court noted that the DNA evidence submitted by the defendant was not the kind of DNA evidence (i.e., demonstrating innocence) which can be used as the basis of a motion to vacate a judgment of conviction:
Given the evidence of defendant’s metabolic deficiency and the ongoing efforts to chemically treat his mental health issues before and after his guilty plea, further development of the record is required to determine whether defendant’s mental capacity was impaired at the time of his plea and, if so, whether he was able to knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently plead guilty to attempted murder in the second degree … . …
… [D]efense counsel stated to defendant on multiple occasions that he had “absolutely no defense” to the charged crimes. In our view, defendant’s submissions demonstrate the need for further development of the record regarding off-the-record conversations that took place between defendant and defense counsel regarding defendant’s case and possible defenses, … so as to discern whether defendant knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived any potential defenses, including an involuntary intoxication defense or the defense of not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect … .
… [D]efense counsel stated, among other things, that, should defendant refuse to plead guilty, he would no longer agree to represent defendant and, in attempting to dissuade defendant from proceeding to trial, invoked the potential disgrace to his family. People v Adamo, 2019 NY Slip Op 05813, Third Dept 7-25-19