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Decisions

Second Department Reverses Suppression Ruling

October 5, 2016

Tyrone Houston was convicted at trial of robbery and  weapon possession arising from an incident in which a man carrying a black briefcase stole various items at gunpoint from a bodega in Brooklyn.  Immediately following the robbery, the clerk emerged from the store and pointed to Mr. Houston, who was standing outside on the sidewalk, and told police that he had a gun.  Mr. Houston was arrested and the officers then searched a briefcase he had placed on a nearby car, which contained the robbery proceeds.  The hearing court denied suppression of contents of the briefcase, ruling that this warrantless search was permissible as incident to Mr. Houston’s lawful arrest.

In a decision dated October 5, 2016, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed the lower court, ruling that the People had failed to present any evidence at the suppression hearing that the search incident to arrest was justified by exigent circumstances.  It thus vacated Mr. Houston’s robbery conviction, reversed the hearing court’s decision, granted suppression of the briefcase’s contents, and remanded the robbery count for a new trial.

Mark W. Vorkink briefed and argued the case in the Second Department.