Notable Decisions and Other News


Second Department Reverses Rape Conviction


At his trial on rape charges, appellant asserted the affirmative defense of lack of criminal responsibility by reason of mental disease or defect.  In support of his affirmative defense, appellant relied on the expert testimony of a board-certified forensic psychiatrist who had conducted thousands of forensic examinations.  The expert opined that appellant lacked the substantial capacity to know the nature and consequences of his actions or appreciate, at the time of the incident, that his conduct was wrong.  In response, the People called a clinical neuropsychologist whose practice focused on the study and treatment of epilepsy, and patients suffering from concussions, stroke, and dementia.

After a bench trial, the court ruled that appellant had not met his burden of establishing the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence, and convicted appellant of, inter alia, criminal sexual act in the first degree (two counts), and rape in the first degree.  Concluding that the defense’s expert was “more convincing and entitled to more weight,” the Second Department held that appellant had, in fact, proven the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.  Appellant's conviction was reversed.  

William Kastin briefed and argued the case on behalf of Appellate Advocates.