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The law on signaturesFebruary 12, 2015

People v. Haywood, 2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 00555 (2d Dept. 2015)

“The trial court properly precluded the defendant from cross-examining one of the complaining witnesses regarding a notarized statement which she had denied signing, and for which the notary could not be located. “[T]here must be a proper foundation laid for the introduction of prior inconsistent statements of a witness. In order to prevent surprise and give the witness the first opportunity to explain any apparent inconsistency between his [or her] testimony at trial and his [or her] previous statements, he [or she] must first be questioned as to the time, place and substance of the prior statement” (Peoplev Duncan, 46 NY2d 74, 80-81; see People v Weldon, 111 NY 569, 575-576; Richardson, Evidence [Prince 10th ed], § 502). “If the witness does not admit that he [or she] signed the statement[ ], the genuineness of the signature can be proved by any one or in any legal way. Such proof enables the impeaching party to properly offer the paper in evidence as a part of his [or her] case or, with the permission of the court, at any other stage of the trial” (Larkin v Nassau Elec. R.R. Co., 205 NY 267, 270). Where, as here, the party seeking to admit the writing into evidence has not proven the genuineness of the signature, “the writing cannot be read to the jury, or, provided it can be produced, used as a basis for a cross-examination as to its contents until it is in evidence”’ (Jerome Prince, Richardson on Evidence § 6-411[b], at 407 [Farrell 11th ed], quoting Larkin v Nassau Elec. R.R. Co., 205 NY at 270; see also People v Lyons, 112 AD3d 849, 850People v Benson, 233 AD2d 749). Accordingly, we decline to disturb the trial court’s determination in this regard.”

This is interesting.