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A violation of the right to counsel at a pretrial hearing does not automatically entitle a defendant to a new trial when the outcome would not have been affected even if the defendant was properly represented, a deeply divided New York Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

In a 4-3 decision with the four Republican judges appointed by Gov. George E. Pataki in the majority and the three Democrats appointed by former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo in the minority, the court refused to adopt a bright-line rule that would result in a new trial anytime the right to counsel was violated at a suppression hearing.

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