New York State Court Of Appeals Blows It Again

William T. Stachowski

October 23, 2007

(DEPEW, NY) Today is a sad day for New Yorkers. The New York State Court of Appeals have placed the last nail in the coffin on New York State's Death Penalty Statute. Sadly, political ideology has reared its ugly head on a public policy matter that impacts all of our lives.

The case involves the shootings of seven innocent people who were shot in the head at point-blank range, apparently to eliminate the witnesses in a robbery by a murderer by the name of John Taylor. Five of the victims died. This was the infamous "Wendy’s Murders" case that took place in Queens several years ago.

Judge Reed wrote the following in her dissenting conclusion. "The crime was horrific....After a textbook trial, defendant was convicted of six counts of capital murder and sentenced to death by the jury. Yet, a majority of the Court vacates the sentence of death. Why? Not because the deadlock instruction delivered in the trial judge was coercive--it was not, as the concurrence concedes and the plurality does not dispute. Instead, John Taylor’s death sentence is vacated because the deadlock instruction delivered in the capital trial of Stephen LaValle was coercive." The Honorable Judge Reed continues by saying... "The death sentence was vacated (under the LaValle decision) because the trial judge gave a coercive deadlock instruction to the jury. But NO SUCH coercive instruction was given in this case (TAYLOR). Here defendant John Taylor’s death sentence is vacated on the basis of a NON-COERCIVE deadlock instruction."

This statement is just shocking. In other words, the New York State Court of Appeals were comparing apples to oranges by comparing two different capital murder deadlock provision cases when rendering their decision. In fact, Judge Reed goes one step further and informs the public on the ideological makeup on an anti-death penalty New York State Court of Appeals.

Judge Reed states the following: "Fair-minded citizens might well be forgiven for wondering whether the Court of Appeals is simply UNWILLING EVER to uphold a death sentence, no matter how the law is written (or may be rewritten), no matter how carefully the trial judge and the jury carry out their responsibility."

What we have is a New York State Court of Appeals out-of-control, basing our state’s death penalty statute not on the merit of the case in front of them, but rather, injecting their personal anti-death penalty ideologies when rendering decisions.

It should also be noted that Judge Smith, who dissented in the "LaValle case" that the jury instructions were coercive. However, now, he became the swing vote in supporting the "Taylor case"; thereby nullifying the State of New York’s Death Penalty statute.

The State Senate has passed annually a technical fix to the deadlock provision of the death penalty statute to protect police officers and the public-at-large from murderers who kill and kill again. Unfortunately, the State Assembly leadership consistently does not allow legislation to fix the death penalty from being considered and voted on by their members. The State Senate will continue to pass the technical fix to our death penalty statute until our District Attorneys, and most importantly the innocent victims of murder, have the opportunity to seek the death penalty when the crime is so heinous and repulsive.