PEOPLE v. CONSTAS

Reset A A Font size: Print

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

The PEOPLE, etc., respondent, v. Steve CONSTAS, appellant.

Decided: February 24, 2009

DANIEL D. ANGIOLILLO, J.P., JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, ARIEL E. BELEN, and CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, JJ. Andrew Worgan, Kew Gardens, N.Y., for appellant. Charles J. Hynes, District Attorney, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Leonard Joblove, Ruth E. Ross, and Danielle Gurkin of counsel), for respondent.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Del Giudice, J.), rendered August 21, 2006, convicting him of murder in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

 The defendant's contention that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel due to counsel's failure to present an insanity defense is without merit.   The defendant, who was found competent to stand trial, was consistent in his refusal to present such a defense.   Once a defendant is found competent to stand trial, he has every right, even over counsel's objection, to reject the use of an insanity defense (see People v. Pulecio, 237 A.D.2d 633, 656 N.Y.S.2d 46).   Viewing the record as a whole, the defendant received meaningful representation (see People v. Baldi, 54 N.Y.2d 137, 444 N.Y.S.2d 893, 429 N.E.2d 400;  People v. Arevalo, 54 A.D.3d 380, 380-381, 862 N.Y.S.2d 586;  People v. Adams, 12 A.D.3d 523, 783 N.Y.S.2d 867).   Defense counsel presented a reasonable defense, interposed appropriate objections, and effectively cross-examined witnesses (see People v. Smith, 12 A.D.3d 707, 784 N.Y.S.2d 882;  People v. Adams, 12 A.D.3d 523, 783 N.Y.S.2d 867).

 The defendant's contention that he was denied the right to be present during the trial and sentencing is without merit.   The defendant was informed of the right to be present and the consequences of failing to appear for trial, namely, that the trial would proceed even if he failed to appear (see People v. Parker, 57 N.Y.2d 136, 139-141, 454 N.Y.S.2d 967, 440 N.E.2d 1313;  People v. Severino, 44 A.D.3d 1077, 1078, 844 N.Y.S.2d 391).   The defendant, after being given these warnings, refused to come to the courtroom for the trial or sentencing.   Reasonable efforts were made to determine whether his refusal was voluntary.   The court properly determined that the trial and sentencing should proceed in his absence (see People v. Ciccarello, 276 A.D.2d 637, 714 N.Y.S.2d 695;  People v. Dhan, 271 A.D.2d 452, 706 N.Y.S.2d 881;  People v. Ravenell, 179 A.D.2d 788, 789, 579 N.Y.S.2d 1015).

Copied to clipboard