The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, M. Dolores Denman courthouse in Rochester ()
An appeals court ordered a new trial for a man convicted of sexually abusing a child, saying a prospective juror related by marriage to the district attorney whose office prosecuted the case should have been excused for cause.
The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, panel ruled unanimously in People v. Collins, 14-02296, that the trial judge, Craig Doran, erroneously denied the request from defendant Todd Collins to excuse the juror during Collins’ 2014 trial in Ontario County Court.
Since the defense ultimately exhausted all its peremptory challenges before the jury was selected, the panel concluded that a new trial was warranted.
The court’s Dec. 23 ruling noted that the son of the prospective juror is married to the daughter of Ontario County District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo, and that the would-be juror and the district attorney are both grandparents to the couple’s child.
Justices Edward Carni, Brian DeJoseph, Patrick NeMoyer, Shirley Troutman and Henry Scudder joined in the ruling.
Collins, now 36, was in state prison Tuesday, where he has been serving a five-year sentence since December 2014. He was convicted of one count of first-degree sexual abuse for abusing an 8-year-old girl.
Brian Shiffrin, partner at Easton Thompson Kasperek Shiffrin in Rochester, represented Collins.
Assistant Ontario County District Attorney James Ritts prosecuted Collins during the 2014 trial and argued on his office’s behalf on appeal.
Neither Shiffrin nor Tantillo returned calls seeking comment Tuesday.