The Third Department, reversing County Court, determined defendant was entitled to a hearing on her motion to vacate her convictions of predatory sexual assault of a child. Defendant presented affidavits from six witnesses stating the victim had recanted her trial testimony. Defendant’s motion warranted hearings on: (1) the newly discovered evidence (the recantation); (2) actual innocence; and (3) ineffective assistance (failure to present expert evidence to refute the People’s reliance of the Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome [CSAAS]):
To prevail [the newly-discovered evidence] claim, a defendant bears the burden of establishing that the evidence meets “the following requirements: (1) it must be such as will probably change the result if a new trial is granted; (2) it must have been discovered since the trial; (3) it must be such as could have not been discovered before the trial by the exercise of due diligence; (4) it must be material to the issue; (5) it must not be cumulative to the former issue; and (6) it must not be merely impeaching or contradicting the former evidence” … . * * *
… [W]e conclude that the six affidavits, together with the copies of text messages between victim B and some of the affiants,[FN1] were sufficient to warrant the holding of a hearing, such that County Court’s denial of defendant’s motion on the ground of newly discovered evidence in the absence of such a hearing was error … . * * *
… [D]efendant has established her entitlement to a hearing on her claim of actual innocence. “A prima facie showing of actual innocence is made out when there is a sufficient showing of possible merit to warrant a fuller exploration by the court” … .* * *
… [A] defendant may establish that he or she was denied meaningful representation in connection with the failure to call an expert witness by “demonstrat[ing] that such testimony was available, that it would have assisted the jury in its determination or that he [or she] was prejudiced by its absence” … . People v Werkheiser, 2022 NY Slip Op 05188, Third Dept 9-15-22
Practice Point: Here the defendant was entitled to hearings on her second motion to vacate her convictions for predatory assault of the child. She presented newly-discovered evidence (the victim’s recantation) requiring a hearing. Her claims of actual innocence and ineffective assistant (failure to refute the People’s reliance on CSAAS) also warranted hearings.