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Shargel v. Lefkowitz

decided: March 13, 1979.

GERALD L. SHARGEL, ATTORNEY IN BEHALF OF VINCENT ALOI, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
LOUIS J. LEFKOWITZ, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT, AND CHARLES E. FENTON, WARDEN OF THE FEDERAL PENITENTIARY AT LEWISBURG, AS AGENT FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Erard L. Goettel, Judge, granting a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed on behalf of a state prisoner convicted of Perjury in the First Degree, N.Y. Penal Law § 210.15, for giving false testimony before a grand jury. The writ was granted on the ground that the state court improperly admitted into evidence at the perjury trial the entire transcript (with a few deletions) of the petitioner's immunized grand jury testimony. Affirmed.

Before Waterman, Mansfield and Timbers, Circuit Judges.

Author: Per Curiam

The State of New York appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Gerard L. Goettel, Judge, entered on October 13, 1978, granting the petition of Gerald L. Shargel for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Vincent Aloi, who was convicted by the New York Supreme Court of perjury in the first degree, N.Y.Penal Law § 210.15, after a jury trial for giving false material testimony before a grand jury. Under New York Criminal Procedure Law §§ 50.10(1) and 190.40 Aloi automatically received transactional immunity which did not extend to perjurious testimony.*fn1 At the jury trial of Aloi for perjury the state trial judge, although the defendant's alleged false testimony wherein he denied ever being at a certain apartment in Nyack, New York, constituted but a small portion of the 92-page transcript of his entire grand jury testimony, admitted into evidence over Aloi's objection the entire transcript (except for a few minor deletions) on the ground that it could be used by the jury to determine the materiality of the alleged false statements and whether the defendant knew they were false. The district court, relying heavily upon the Third Circuit's decision in United States v. Apfelbaum, 584 F.2d 1264 (3d Cir. 1978), granted the writ on the ground that the state was precluded by the grant of immunity from introducing any of Aloi's immunized testimony except "the perjurious statements alleged in the indictment plus the minimal relevant and essential other testimony necessary to be able to place the alleged perjury in its proper context."

In Cameron v. United States, 231 U.S. 710, 720-24, 34 S. Ct. 244, 58 L. Ed. 448 (1914), the Supreme Court, in holding that truthful immunized testimony by the defendant in one proceeding was protected by a statutory grant of immunity from use to prove perjury in another proceeding,*fn2 indicated that the testimony might be used "for any legitimate purpose in establishing" the perjury in the same proceeding, 231 U.S. at 721, 34 S. Ct. at 247. The state contends that this language authorizes a more liberal standard than that applied in Apfelbaum, supra, which made no reference to Cameron.

We find it unnecessary to decide in this case whether the Apfelbaum or some more liberal standard should be applied to determine the extent to which Aloi's immunized testimony may be used to prove that he gave perjurious testimony in the same proceeding since, even under the more liberal Cameron standard, it was clearly improper to admit virtually all of his immunized grand jury testimony. Since it was not shown that all of his testimony was false, the testimony could not have been admitted as unprotected by the grant of immunity. Assuming at least some of it was truthful, it had no probative value in determining whether the alleged perjurious portion was intentionally false.

Accordingly the judgment of the district court ...


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