Kudos to Simple Justice for bringing us the inside tale of a how the system really works.
Let's see as SJ recounts it, the real story behind People v. Flores goes as follows:
In the normal course, the top count of depraved indifference murder was dismissed after the court inspected the grand jury minutes for sufficiency. So far, great. But from that point on, the case went downhill fast.
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice--for shame!
The Assistant District Attorney wasn't very proud of this dismissal, so no one was told of it and the decision was buried in the file. The defense attorney never bothered to mention anything to his client, and was subsequently replaced by a new attorney, who never bothered to read the file for the decision on motions.
The Court Clerk who marked the count dismissed did so in the wrong place, the wrong side of the file jacket. When the case was sent to a new judge for trial, the new clerk looked in the correct place on the file jacket and saw nothing there. The trial judge never read the file and didn't know of the order dismissing the charge. And the prosecutor never bothered to mention anything to anyone as the case went to trial.
And so the case was tried, and the defendant convicted of murder. And no one knew. Well, not exactly no one, as the Nassau County ADA knew that he had gotten a conviction for a dismissed count, but he was npt about to screw up a good conviction by dredging up bad memories.
It took a court data input clerk, about a month after the conviction, to realize that something went wrong. Very wrong. So what does he do? As an employee of the court system, he naturally notifies the District Attorney (who else would he tell?). But this time, someone realizes that they have made a huge mistake and word spreads about the murder conviction on a dismissed count of an indictment.
And so, the Trial Judge promptly vacates the conviction and chastises all involved, himself included, for this shocking failure? No, no. The Trial Judge decides that it doesn't matter. A conviction is a conviction, even without a charge, and sentences the defendant to the maximum. For good measure, he maxes out the defendant on the lesser counts as well.