People v. DeLee
Lambda Legal has submitted an amicus brief with the New York Court of Appeals urging the court to reinstate the 2009 conviction of Dwight DeLee, who was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in the 2008 shooting death in Syracuse of Lateisha Green, a transgender woman. In the 2009 trial, DeLee was convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. The jury also found DeLee not guilty on a second count, which was described to the jury as including manslaughter “but not as a hate crime.” DeLee’s attorneys appealed the verdict, arguing that the two verdicts contradicted each other and that therefore the conviction should be reversed. The Appellate Division agreed and on a 4-1 decision in July reversed the conviction, and DeLee was immediately released from prison.
In its brief, Lambda Legal argues that the jury understandably believed that they had to choose between either convicting DeLee of manslaughter as a hate crime or of manslaughter but not as a hate crime. The jurors made a choice that the facts and jury instructions supported. Hate crimes continue to plague the LGBT community and other communities, and to allow DeLee to walk free after his conviction on the key count of the indictment only further complicates the already daunting task of securing convictions for anti-LGBT hate crimes.
Organizations joining Lambda Legal on the amicus brief include: the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University’s School of Law; Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF); the Anti-Defamation League; the LGBT Community Center in New York City; Empire State Pride Agenda; the Transgender Alliance of Central New York; and the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Inc.
- October 7, 2013: Lambda Legal submits motion seeking permission to file an amicus brief with the New York Court of Appeals on behalf of Lambda Legal, the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University’s School of Law and six human rights organizations.