Notable Decisions and Other News

Decisions

Failure to Prepare Expert Was Ineffective

6/25/2014

Mr. Henderson, who was only 15 years old, was accused of attacking the complainant with a knife. He was charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault.

At trial, Mr. Henderson raised a diminished capacity defense. This defense relied heavily on a psychiatric expert witness's opinion that Mr. Henderson suffered from a schizophreniform disorder and could not have formed the specific intent to commit the charged crimes. On cross examination, however, it became apparent that the expert was unaware of material facts that could have been central to his diagnosis.

In summation, defense counsel admitted that she failed to disclose this crucial information to the expert.

Today, in a unanimous decision, the Second Department held that counsel was ineffective for not disclosing the material information to the expert. The court reversed Mr. Henderson's conviction of attempted murder and two counts of first degree assault and ordered a new trial.

Leila Hull briefed and argued the case.