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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

NYCHA Decision Dismissing Non-Desirability on the Grounds that Charges were Based on Records Sealed Pursuant to CPL 160.55 (2008)

  • Organization: New York City Housing Authority
  • Document Type: Case law/admin decisions
  • Date Created: Wednesday, September 10, 2008
  • Submitted: Monday, September 22, 2008
  • Attachment(s): DOC

NYCHA sought to terminate tenancy of a tenant represented by the Legal Aid Society who had been arrested in a neighbor's apartment when it was raided by the police executing a search warrant. The tenant pled guilty to Disorderly Conduct (PL 240.20), which is defined in the Penal Law as a Violation and a non-criminal offense. The matter was sealed pursuant to CPL 160.55, which provides for the sealing of non-criminal offenses. (See training handout from The Bronx Defenders on sealing of criminal records.)

NYCHA sought to admit into evidence the search warrant, the appearance history, the arrest report, the field test report, the property clerk's invoice, and the deposition of one of the arresting detectives. Legal Aid objected to the introduction of all of the documents including those regarding the neighbor's arrest, arguing in part, that to allow those related to the neighbor to be used against our client would make an end-run around the purpose of the sealing statute.

In voir dire one of the arresting detectives revealed that the source of his knowledge was a review of the sealed records. While NYCHA argued that the information on which the charges were based could have come from an article in a Staten Island newspaper, the Hearing Officer held that "NYCHA did not state, however, that it actually did base the charges upon the newspaper article, and it seems an unlikely scenario: Charges are brought upon evidence; it is questionable whether a newspaper article, taken by itself, would suffice."

The decision issued states, "There being no credible explanation how the charges were prepared without the use of sealed records, the charges must be dismissed." Click here to download the full decision

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