Grayton v. Ercole, No. 10-1419 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Grayton was found guilty of Murder in the Second Degree, N.Y. Penal Law 125.25(1), based on a 2001 shooting death, and was sentenced to 25 years to life imprisonment. He exhausted his state appeals and timely petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. 2254, arguing that his exclusion from a Geraci hearing violated his constitutional right to presence at all material stages of the trial. Geraci hearings are held in New York state courts to determine whether a defendant has procured a witness’s unavailability by misconduct and has thus forfeited his Confrontation Clause rights in regards to that witness. The district court assumed, without deciding, that Grayton had a federal constitutional right to be present at the hearing, then determined that he had waived that right. The Second Circuit affirmed, first holding that there is a right to be present at a Geraci hearing. Grayton had at least minimal knowledge of the proceeding; if he objected to his exclusion, it was incumbent upon him to have made that known. It is not unreasonable to call failure to do so waiver.