Supreme Court Justice Brendan T. Lantry dismissed felony charges against two individuals accused of purchasing false COVID-19 vaccine passports, criticizing the Manhattan District Attorney’s disproportionate pursuit of these charges and highlighting inconsistencies in prosecutorial practices.
The ruling emphasized the systemic issue of arbitrary application of justice and the need for compelling factors to justify dismissal.
The court acknowledged the severity of falsifying a healthcare database but showed sympathy towards the defendants’ personal circumstances, considering their actions as less severe and not resulting in direct harm.
Justice Lantry said, “This Court is astonished to see the People make such an argument when the People routinely — nearly daily — move to dismiss significantly more serious counts or entire indictments in the interests of justice.”
“An indictment or any count thereof may be dismissed in furtherance of justice…when, even though there may be no basis for dismissal as a matter of law upon any ground specified…such dismissal is required as a matter of judicial discretion by the existence of some compelling factor, consideration, or circumstance clearly demonstrating that conviction or prosecution of the defendant upon such indictment or count would constitute or result in injustice,” he continued.
The judge ruled, “Clearly, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is not among the most serious crimes in the New York Penal Law, nor are the factual allegations against Defendants R.V. and J.O. particularly serious in nature.”
Positive aspects of the defendants’ history and character were noted, suggesting that probation or lesser sentences might be more appropriate.