Smith v. Lee

Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal

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Judge John Koeltl

A state appeals court upheld Smith's conviction for third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, arising from sale of crack cocaine to Crawley in a Manhattan park. In addition to testimony from Crawley and arresting officer MacDougall, trial evidence included videotape from surveillance cameras monitored from an NYPD Temporary Headquarters Vehicle. Although a camera captured the sale on video, that video (the "sale video") did not show Smith's face. Video footage from earlier in the day (the "pre-sale video") depicted Smith from the front and showed his face, clothing and mannerisms. Affirming conviction, an appellate panel rejected Smith's claims that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, and that the trial court's decision to allow the prosecution to show footage from the pre-sale video denied him a fair trial. Smith repeated those same claims in his application for 28 USC §2254 habeas relief, which district court denied. District court found no reasonable argument that trial court's decision to allow the prosecution to show the pre-sale video resulted in a denial of Smith's right to a fair trial. The pre-sale video, taken together with the sale video, was relevant as to the identification of Smith as the seller.

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