Appellate Division, Fourth Department
Harmless Error Analysis
People v. Miller
Appealed from Supreme Court, Monroe County
Background: At the trial for second-degree murder and other charges, the defendant raised the defense of extreme emotional disturbance. The trial judge submitted to the jury a verdict sheet with an instruction to determine whether “the Defendant established by a preponderance of the evidence that he acted under Extreme Emotional Disturbance.” The defendant objected to the wording of the verdict sheet.
Ruling: The conviction is reversed and a new trial ordered. A written legal instruction on the burden of proof was improper. Harmless error analysis does not apply.
Drew R. DuBrin for the defendant, and Kelly Christine Wolford, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office