A judge has refused to consolidate the cases of two men facing charges of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, holding both defendants would be harmed if a joint trial were to occur. Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge John Wilson (See Profile) denied the prosecution’s attempt to try the cases of Lucas Valentine and Bernard Galvez together.
A New York City police officer on Feb. 18 observed Galvez behind the wheel of a vehicle while Valentine stood outside. The officer also spotted a fire hydrant on the ground, along with damage to a parked car and a fence. Galvez said he was “not driving, just backing up” while Valentine said “I was the one driving, I just closed my eyes.” The men were both charged on Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs; Galvez faces additional charges such as fourth degree criminal mischief. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office pressed for consolidation, which was opposed by the defendants.
Galvez’s attorney pointed out that Valentine could give testimony exculpating his client, but Valentine’s Fifth Amendment rights would prevent such testimony if he also was on trial. In his Oct. 26 ruling, Wilson agreed with the defense’s reasoning, noting how Galvez was “disavowing any involvement in the accident” while Valentine then said he drove the vehicle.
Though public policy favored joinder of charges when they came from the same criminal transaction, consolidation was ultimately up to the trial court, said Wilson. “Under these circumstances, the antagonistic defenses of each Defendant would cause prejudice to each Defendant if these cases were jointly tried,” the judge wrote. The cases are People v. Valentine, 12KN014088 and People v. Galvez, 2012KN014467.