New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog
March 9, 2010

SDNY Suppresses Gun Based on Defense Lawyer's Crime Scene Investigation

Federal Defender Roland Thau demonstrates the power of that most basic defense technique: crime scene investigation.  In United States v. Gomez, 2010 WL 431878 (S.D.N.Y. February 8, 2010), Mr. Thau’s client was arrested for trespass in a public park at midnight, searched and charged with possession of the “hard metal object” found in his pocket.  Thau moved to suppress the gun on the grounds that the arrest was made without probable cause.  Trespass under New York State law requires that the defendant enter property “fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders” and “notice [of the trespass] is given by posting in a conspicuous manner.”  Thau’s crime scene investigation established that the park’s many entrances were wide open at night and the signage regarding opening hours could be “practically invisible,” depending on one’s approach to the park.  There was therefore no reasonable suspicion, much less probable cause, to believe that Mr. Gomez had committed the crime of trespass, and SDNY Judge Sweet suppressed the seized gun.  Well done Roland!

Lawyers: Roland Thau, Federal Defenders, Inc. (Defendant); AUSA Jessica Ortiz

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