People v Fleming
2009 NY Slip Op 00258 [58 AD3d 527]
January 20, 2009
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
As corrected through Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
Delroy Fleming, Appellant.

[*1] Richard M. Greenberg, Office of the Appellate Defender, New York (Jennifer Eisenberg of counsel), for appellant.

Robert T. Johnson, District Attorney, Bronx (Robert R. Sandusky, III of counsel), for respondent.

Judgment, Supreme Court, Bronx County (Ira R. Globerman, J.), rendered April 8, 2003, as amended April 20, 2006, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, sentencing him to a term of eight years, unanimously reversed, on the law, and the matter remanded for a new trial.

Defendant did not receive effective assistance of counsel. The existing record establishes that trial counsel's overall performance was prejudicially deficient (see People v Droz, 39 NY2d 457 [1976]). Counsel demonstrated her lack of basic comprehension of criminal law and procedure through her persistent frivolous conduct at multiple stages of the proceeding, including, among other things, pretrial motion practice, a purported interlocutory appeal, the suppression hearing, requests for jury instructions, posttrial motions and sentencing. Counsel's woeful lack of knowledge approached the traditional "farce and a mockery of justice" standard (see People v Tomaselli, 7 NY2d 350, 353-354 [1960]). This case presented an issue of whether defendant was aware of the illicit contents of a package he accepted in a controlled postal delivery. Counsel completely and prejudicially misunderstood and mishandled this issue, and defendant was deprived of a fair trial as a result. We find counsel's unfamiliarity with the [*2]sentencing parameters for defendant's crime particularly troubling in view of the fact that before trial defendant received a beneficial plea offer of three to nine years. Concur—Mazzarelli, J.P., Friedman, Buckley, Acosta and Freedman, JJ.