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In People v. Cyrus , 8026/02, the Appellate Division, First Department held that I rendered ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and I am delighted that Louis Cyrus has been granted a new trial. On the whole, I am in agreement with the appellate court that I did not provide the effective assistance of counsel Mr. Cyrus was entitled to. That was due to my relative inexperience in October 2003 in trying felony cases, and I would not make those same “rookie” mistakes again. I am also encouraged that People v. Cyrushas been an awakening of sorts at the First Department. In prior cases, I was concerned that the appellate court was overlooking constitutional violations for the sake of upholding convictions. For example, in People v. Johnson,6 AD3d 226 (2004), Justice Richard Andrias, who sat on the Cyruspanel, began oral argument by reciting the crimes the defendant was convicted of. I had always thought that the focus of direct appeal is whether the defendant received a fair trial, not the charges at trial. In the process, Justice Andrias affirmed the conviction with a ruling that was actually contradicted by the trial record – the arresting officer testified he did not see a hand signal from his partner to arrest defendant, but Justice Andrias determined he did. All of Mr. Johnson’s complaints of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, far more egregious than mine, were wholly overlooked.

Edward Land New York, N.Y.

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