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Decisions

Conviction Reversed for Improper Rebuttal

2/25/2015

At Mr. Crevelle’s trial for attempted second-degree murder, the defense presented alibi evidence: Mr. Crevelle’s girlfriend testified that she was with him at the time of the shooting. 

After the defense rested, the prosecutor called two alibi rebuttal witnesses, a phone company employee and a cartographer. These witnesses testified that based on Mr. Crevelle’s cell phone records, when the shooting happened, he was near the scene and that Mr. Crevelle and his girlfriend were calling each other, suggesting that they were not together. The prosecutor had not provided advance notice to the defense, as statutorily required, that they had alibi rebuttal witnesses. The prosecutor conceded to the court that she “tactically chose” not to speak to the girlfriend prior to trial and that she had not been certain she could establish the necessary foundation for a rebuttal.

The Appellate Division held that the trial court should have prevented the prosecutor from using the alibi rebuttal evidence because the prosecutor failed to give proper notice to the defense about the evidence or show good cause for that failure. The Court concluded that it was fundamentally unfair to require Mr. Crevelle to divulge details of his case to the People in advance, as he was required to by statute, while “subjecting him to the hazard of surprise concerning refutation of the very pieces of evidence which he disclosed.” Accordingly, the court found that Mr. Crevelle was deprived of a fair trial and reversed his conviction.

Jenin Younes briefed and argued the case.