People v. Santana (2006) – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In People v. Santana (7 NY3d 234, 851 NE2d 1193, 818 NYS2d 842 [2006]), the Court of Appeals analyzed the language in the criminal contempt in the second degree (Penal Law § 215.50 [3]) statute, which states that a person is guilty of contempt by intentional disobedience or resistance to the lawful process or other mandate of a court "except in cases involving or growing out of labor disputes as defined by subdivision two of section seven hundred fifty-three-a of the judiciary law."

The Court reasoned that the exclusionary language was not an element of the crime because it required going outside of the Penal Law, to the Judiciary Law, which delineates multiple circumstances which constitute labor disputes.

Santana concluded it was unreasonable to believe the legislature intended the People to negate each of the alternatives specified in the Judiciary Law in every criminal contempt prosecution.