Criminal Law's Cool!

Your Weekly Dive into Real Live Criminal Court CaseS guided by New York City Criminal Lawyer Don Murray. 

 New York City criminal lawyer Don Murray

Hi.  This is Don Murray.  Here at Criminal Law's Cool!, you can learn about principles of Criminal Law and the real life practice of criminal law using recently decided real life cases I have carefully selected to serve as examples.  Along the way, I will provide the insight that only an insider to the system can provide, and I will do my best to make a complex system understandable for those without legal experience or training.

Whether you are interested in a particular topic here, or whether you just want to learn about the actual practice and experience of criminal law in New York City, I hope you will find the articles here of interest.  On a related note, if you are a high school social studies teacher, click on the following link for some suggestions for new ways to present Fourth Amendment issues.


Take a long leisurely dive into the world of automobile presumptions using the New York Appellate Division Second Department case of People. v. Drayton Archer, decided March 21, 2018.  Join me on a trip through this home grown (Queens County) case, and you will learn about the automobile presumption, when it applies, how it works in real life, why is it such a powerful tool, and are there any exceptions?  How better to spend a Saturday night?


Take a brief but deep dive into a case decided by the New York Appellate Division Second Department (People v. Jose Fuertes) on March 28, 2018.  This case seems short and unremarkable, but with me as your guide, you will soon see how this case illustrates a very important lesson about the difficulty of success at pretrial suppression hearings in criminal cases.  In this dive, you will explore what pretrial suppression hearings are and how arguing about whether a witness should have been believed or not on appeal is an argument you never want to have to make.  The lesson here is that, where credibility is concerned, except in the rarest of circumstances, whatever the trial level judge says...goes.


Here is a deep dive into a common result on appeal when defendants complain about the police having lied to them and used trickery to convince them to make incriminating statements.  Often people assume that the police "can't lie" but not only can they...they do, and often to suspects during interrogations.  Our Courts routinely approve of this process and decline to interfere in it, and this case (People v. Plass) is no different.  Learn about why this is, and how when accused of a crime, silence truly is golden, despite how tempting it may be to "cooperate".


In this deep dive, enter the stressful world of a defense lawyer when a trial judge rules that his entire defense is not allowed in the First Department (Manhattan) case of People v. Montgomery.  Spoiler alert - on Appeal the Trial Judge is overturned, but remember that appeal often takes years.  As a trial lawyer, you have to be in it to win it and a Judge denying you the right to present the defense you have prepared can be...unpleasant.


Episode 5 takes us into the world of traffic stops that lead to the recovery of evidence such as guns or drugs in cars.  What starts as a routine traffic stops becomes a serious criminal possession of a weapon charge or criminal possession of a controlled substance charge.  Often, the basis for the traffic stop, or the actions of the police during the traffic stop become of the focus of a high stakes, hotly contested hearing where the stakes are the case itself.  Using the case of People v. Rodriguez from the Second Department, decided May 2, 2018, NYC Criminal Lawyer Don Murray walks through the common situation where the escalation of a traffic stop to something more is justified because the circumstances of the traffic stop caused the officer to "fear for his safety".


Episode 6 is a "Supremely" Deep Dive into the United States Supreme Court's recent Fourth Amendment decision Byrd v. United States.  The decision seems straightforward that as a general rule, the Fourth Amendment applies to unauthorized (non-thief) drivers of rental cars.  The decision, along with the oral argument, however, provide a fascinating insight into the the larger picture that the Supreme Court must consider in deciding cases.  Join Don Murray in a discussion of this fascinating new case.


Episode 7 is another deep dive into a Supreme Court case, except this time it is an "historical" deep dive into one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time.  Mr. Murray chose to explore the case of Korematsu v. United States because it resonates with the current controversy surrounding the Government's policy (concluded, for the time being) to separate illegal immigrant minors from their parents, and to house those minors in prisons.  


In Carpenter v. United States, the Supreme Court recently found that the Government needs a search warrant based on probable cause to poke around your cell phone location data.  You may have thought that's the way it already was or that it was a ground ball issue.  That isn't the way it was, and the case was very closely decided (5-4 in favor of finding cell phone location data to be sufficiently private to require an interested Government to obtain a warrant based on probable cause.)  Read Don Murray's summary and explanation of this major privacy decision.