ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court issued a decision in the matter of the criminal trial of Nauman Hussain, who pleaded guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide. Hussain’s final attempt to force a plea deal made with a retired judge has been rejected.
At issue is Hussain’s responsibility for improperly maintaining the Ford Excursion limousine whose brakes failed in Schoharie County, and the deaths caused by the crash. He pleaded guilty under specific circumstances, but the new judge appointed to his case—Peter Lynch—eventually rejected the deal. He offered an immediate sentencing or the opportunity to go to trial.
Chosing a trial at first, Hussain then legally filed to try to force the court to accept that original plea. The Appelate Court—referring to Hussain as “petitioner” and Lynch as “respondent”—ruled that, “because respondent was under no obligation to merely “rubber stamp” the probation sentence, the mandamus relief being sought by petitioner is unavailable.” Merriam Webster defines “mandamus” as “a writ issued by a superior court commanding the performance of a specified official act or duty.”
The court justified dismissing Hussain’s petition to force Lynch to comply with the plea agreement on several factors. The court found that the community service he had performed so far had been lacking, that his Fifth Amendment rights were not violated, and that new evidence in the form of victim impact statements were available to Lynch that had not been available to the previous judge, George Bartlett.
“We continue to prepare for trial, as we have been doing of months,” said Nauman’s defense attorney, Lee Kindlon. “We are evaluating all of our options, including asking for an emergency stay to go to the Court of Appeals, but are cognizant that jury selection begins in ten days. Our focus now is on defending Nauman Hussain.”
Hussain was set to get five years probation in the plea deal under the previous judge, but the new judge is pushing for at least a year in prison, instead. This was the last effort to reinstate that former deal. Jury selection is now set to begin in 10 days. The jury trial remains on the Schoharie County Court calendar to start on May 1.