PEOPLE v. SPRINGER

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

The PEOPLE, etc., respondent, v. Alfonso SPRINGER, appellant.

Decided: December 27, 2004

FRED T. SANTUCCI, J.P., DANIEL F. LUCIANO, ROBERT W. SCHMIDT, and REINALDO E. RIVERA, JJ. Lynn W.L. Fahey, New York, N.Y. (Lisa Napoli of counsel), for appellant. Charles J. Hynes, District Attorney, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Leonard Joblove and Jodi L. Mandel of counsel;  Rachel Pasternak on the brief), for respondent.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County (McKay, J.), rendered March 7, 2003, convicting him of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, and criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree (two counts), upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

 The defendant's challenge to the Supreme Court's Sandoval ruling (see People v. Sandoval, 34 N.Y.2d 371, 357 N.Y.S.2d 849, 314 N.E.2d 413) is without merit.   The nature and extent of cross-examination have always been subject to the sound discretion of the trial judge (People v. Sandoval, supra at 374, 357 N.Y.S.2d 849, 314 N.E.2d 413).   Here, the court struck an appropriate balance between the probative value of the defendant's prior crimes on the issue of his credibility and the possible prejudice to the defendant (see People v. Williams, 56 N.Y.2d 236, 238-239, 451 N.Y.S.2d 690, 436 N.E.2d 1292;  People v. Rahman, 46 N.Y.2d 882, 883, 414 N.Y.S.2d 683, 387 N.E.2d 614).   The defendant failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the prejudicial effect of the evidence of his prior convictions so outweighed the probative worth of that evidence that its exclusion was warranted (see People v. Sandoval, supra at 378, 357 N.Y.S.2d 849, 314 N.E.2d 413;  People v. Simmons, 213 A.D.2d 433, 623 N.Y.S.2d 309).

 The mere fact that some of the prior convictions were similar in nature to the instant offenses did not warrant their preclusion (see People v. Mack, 6 A.D.3d 551, 775 N.Y.S.2d 345).   The fact that the defendant chose to specialize in one type of criminal activity did not shield him from impeachment by use of prior convictions (see People v. Mattiace, 77 N.Y.2d 269, 274-275, 567 N.Y.S.2d 384, 568 N.E.2d 1189;  People v. Sokolov, 245 A.D.2d 317, 318, 667 N.Y.S.2d 263).   The prior offenses were probative of the defendant's willingness to place his interests above those of society (see People v. Duffy, 36 N.Y.2d 258, 262, 367 N.Y.S.2d 236, 326 N.E.2d 804, cert. denied 423 U.S. 861, 96 S.Ct. 116, 46 L.Ed.2d 88;  People v. Turner, 239 A.D.2d 447, 448, 657 N.Y.S.2d 756), and by precluding the prosecutor from eliciting the underlying facts of the defendant's convictions, the Supreme Court avoided any undue prejudice to the defendant (see People v. Mack, supra at 551, 775 N.Y.S.2d 345;  People v. Ricks, 135 A.D.2d 844, 845, 522 N.Y.S.2d 945).   Finally, the fact that one of the defendant's convictions was more than 16 years old did not, in and of itself, require preclusion of that conviction for impeachment purposes (see People v. Turner, supra at 447-448, 657 N.Y.S.2d 756;  People v. Ricks, supra at 844-845, 522 N.Y.S.2d 945).

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