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New trial ordered in robbery case

Juror should have been excused

By: Bennett Loudon//December 9, 2021

New trial ordered in robbery case

Juror should have been excused

By: Bennett Loudon//December 9, 2021

A state appeals court has ordered a new trial in a robbery case because of a juror who should have been excused after making statements hinting that she would not be impartial.

Defendant Ismail Feddaoui was convicted in October 2017 in state Supreme Court in Queens before Justice John LaTella of second-degree robbery and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

In a decision released Wednesday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Second Department, reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial for Feddaoui.

About 3:30 in the morning on July 2, 2015, a 73-year-old man was robbed by three men on a street in Queens. The victim reported the robbery to police, identified the three perpetrators, including Feddaoui, and they were arrested.

The Second Department ruled that the evidence in the case was legally sufficient to find Feddaoui guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Feddaoui’s appellate lawyer argued that the defense should have been permitted to introduce audio recordings of the victim’s interviews with Legal Aid investigators during the trial — something Justice LaTella denied and the Second Department agreed.

“However, the Supreme Court should have granted the defendant’s for-cause challenge to a prospective juror who evinced a state of mind that was likely to preclude her from rendering an impartial verdict based on the evidence,” the Second Department wrote.

A prospective juror who makes statements that raise a serious doubt about their ability to be impartial must be excused “unless the juror states unequivocally on the record that he or she can be fair and impartial,” the panel wrote.

In Feddaoui’s case, the prospective juror’s statements that she would expect the defense to present evidence raised a serious doubt about her ability to be impartial.

“Since the defendant exhausted his peremptory challenges, the denial of his for-cause challenge constitutes reversible error,” according to the decision.

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