At the end of June and the beginning of July, respectively, two panels of a New York State appeals court (the Appellate Division, First Department) each ruled that police had violated a suspect’s state constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that as a result, the trial judges should have suppressed the weapons found on the suspects–that is, the judges should have excluded the weapons from evidence that could be introduced against the defendants at a criminal trial.
In one sense, the distinctive aspects of New York law have little bearing on the suppressions at issue in the two New York cases, In re Darryl C.
and In the Matter of Jaquan M.
In both of those cases, the majorities of the appellate court panels did not dispute that police were justified in taking the first two steps discussed in De Bour
: (1) approaching to request information, and (2) posing the more pointed questions that would plainly be aimed only at a suspect. Both courts found, however, that the police lacked “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the suspects were committing, had committed, or were about to commit a crime, and that the police also lacked reasonable suspicion to believe that the suspects posed a danger or were armed. On their face, then, it would seem that these two decisions represent fact-specific applications of a standard that is, for the most part, the same under federal and New York State constitutional law.