Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Dioguardi case brief

People v. Dioguardi case brief summary
203 N.Y.S.2d 870 (1960)

The state challenged orders of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York), which reversed the judgments of the trial court rendered upon verdicts convicting defendants of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion and dismissed the indictments.

Defendants had engaged in discussions with nonunion companies that were being picketed, wherein the companies were told that the picketing would cease if the companies paid defendants money, joined defendants' union, and retained defendants' consulting services. The question before the court on appeal was whether there was a question of fact regarding defendants' guilt that should have been submitted to the jury and not disposed of by dismissal.


  • The court held that a question of fact existed from which a jury could properly have concluded that defendants were guilty of extortion. 
  • Thus, the court reversed the appellate division's orders, reinstated the indictments, and ordered a new trial. 
  • The court found that where it was perfectly clear that either one or the other of two mutually exclusive crimes had been committed and where the line of demarcation in a particular case depended upon the evaluation of particular facts, the question could not be resolved by the courts as a matter of law. 
  • It was the province of the jury, under clear and complete instructions from the court, to consider and weigh the facts and to determine defendants' guilt or innocence of the crimes charged.

The court ordered that the appellate division orders appealed from by the state were to be reversed, the indictments reinstated, and a new trial ordered for defendants.

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