The Drug Law Reform Act of 2009 (2009 DLRA) allows for incarcerated felons who committed a class B felony prior to January 13, 2005 and who are serving an indeterminate sentence with a maximum of more than three years to apply for resentencing (CPL 440.46). In People v. Phillips (2d Dept. 3/15/2011), the Appellate Division held that parole status was not controlling for a 2009 DLRA resentencing application. The Defendant's motion for resentencing had been denied by the County Court, holding that the Defendant was a reincarcerated parole violator and that made him ineligible for resentencing.
The Appellate Division reversed, holding that parole violations do not automatically bar DLRA 2009 relief. While the AD2 acknowledged that the Court of Appeals stated that the legislature did not want new crimes to trigger the opportunity for resentencing, the Court held that only applied to the Drug Law Reform Act of 2005 and not 2009 DLRA. The court held that relief under 2009 DLRA could not be denied on the basis that the defendant is reincarcerated as a parole violator. The denial of the defendant's motion was reversed and remanded for a new determination.
This case now sets up a department split. The First Department previously held that parole violators were not eligible for resentencing under the 2009 DLRA (People v. Pratts, 74 A.D.3d 536, 537, lv. granted, 15 N.Y.3d 895). Leave was granted in that case. It will be interseting to see how the Court of Appeals resolves the issue. (JMM/LC)