PEOPLE v. WOOLRIDGE

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Keith WOOLRIDGE, Defendant-Appellant.

Decided: May 25, 2000

SULLIVAN, P.J., ROSENBERGER, WILLIAMS, WALLACH and FRIEDMAN, JJ. Ilisa T. Fleischer, for Respondent. George E. Hairston, for Defendant-Appellant.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (William Leibovitz, J.), rendered February 18, 1998, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of rape in the first degree and sexual abuse in the first degree, and sentencing him, as a persistent felony offender, to concurrent terms of 20 years to life and 15 years to life, respectively, unanimously affirmed.

 The court properly exercised its discretion in imposing reasonable restrictions upon defendant's voir dire of prospective jurors (see, People v. Boulware, 29 N.Y.2d 135, 324 N.Y.S.2d 30, 272 N.E.2d 538, cert. denied 405 U.S. 995, 92 S.Ct. 1269, 31 L.Ed.2d 463).   Defendant received a fair opportunity to question the panelists about all relevant matters.   The court properly precluded defendant from asking panelists to commit themselves in advance to a particular view of hypothetical factual scenarios (compare, People v. Davis, 248 A.D.2d 281, 670 N.Y.S.2d 76, lv. denied 91 N.Y.2d 1006, 676 N.Y.S.2d 134, 698 N.E.2d 963, with People v. Porter, 226 A.D.2d 275, 641 N.Y.S.2d 283) and from asking a misleading question about the presumption of innocence (see, People v. Glover, 206 A.D.2d 826, 616 N.Y.S.2d 128, lv. denied 84 N.Y.2d 935, 621 N.Y.S.2d 532, 645 N.E.2d 1232).   There was nothing prejudicial about the remarks made by the court in connection with these rulings.

 The court properly exercised its discretion in restricting defendant's cross-examination of the People's witnesses.   Defendant received a full opportunity to elicit the eyewitness's criminal background and was permitted to explore his use of drugs to the extent relevant to his testimonial capacity (see, People v. Freeland, 36 N.Y.2d 518, 369 N.Y.S.2d 649, 330 N.E.2d 611).   The court properly precluded questions concerning the victim's arrests as opposed to convictions (see, People v. Morrison, 195 N.Y. 116, 88 N.E. 21).

 The court properly declined to deliver a circumstantial evidence charge, and its reasonable doubt charge was completely appropriate.   A circumstantial evidence charge was unwarranted because there existed both direct and circumstantial evidence to support both the rape and sexual abuse charges (see, People v. Roldan, 88 N.Y.2d 826, 643 N.Y.S.2d 960, 666 N.E.2d 553).   Although the victim was too intoxicated at the time of the incident to know what had happened to her, eyewitness testimony as to defendant's acts constituted direct evidence, notwithstanding that some of the People's evidence required the drawing of inferences (see, People v. Daddona, 81 N.Y.2d 990, 599 N.Y.S.2d 530, 615 N.E.2d 1014).

The remaining rulings by the court challenged on appeal were proper exercises of discretion.

MEMORANDUM DECISION.