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Aggravated Harassment Dismissed - Speedy Trial Violation

Here, in People v. JOHNSON-McLEAN, 2019 N.Y. Slip Op 51941 (Crim. Ct. 2019), a complaint is made against the Defendant and, based on the constitutional rights of the accused are curtailed: Arrests, Court Appearances and Orders of Protection.

When People call the office accused of harassment and aggravated harassment, we often hear "I am innocent" or "I did not do what they say" together with, perhaps, the "police lied." Here it is a Catifah Morgan who makes the complaint. While the accused enjoys, among other things, the right to confront her accusers and speedy trial, the analysis is not so simple:

The defendant was arraigned on July 3, 2019 on a complaint sworn to by Police Officer Nicole Longo as informed by a complainant referred to as "Catifah Morgan". On that date, the People conceded that they needed the informant's supporting deposition and the case was adjourned for conversion. The People did not provide a supporting deposition on the next court date of August 6, 2019 and the case was adjourned to October 8, 2019 for conversion.

On September 26, the People filed and served off-calendar a statement of readiness along with a copy of the original complaint (naming "Catifah Morgan") and a supporting deposition signed by one "Latifah Morgan." Notably, on the supporting deposition, the name "Catifah" appears in the typed portion but with the "C" scratched out and replaced with a handwritten "L" and the initials "LM."

On the next court date, October 8, 2019, the defendant objected to the People's statement of readiness, arguing that a supporting deposition signed by a person not named in the complaint was inadequate to convert the complaint to an information. The court agreed. The People then made an application to amend the complaint to conform to the supporting deposition, which was denied by the court. Later that same day, the People filed and served a superseding information sworn to and signed by "Latifah Morgan."

Criminal Defendants in New York State enjoy statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights. That means, under the New York Criminal Procedure Law, there are statutory protections under Criminal Procedure Law Article thirty (30.30). Under both the New York State and Federal Constitution there are speedy trial provisions that do not allow the people to unduly delay under a separate analysis.

CPL § 30.30(1)(b) provides that a motion to dismiss must be granted if the People are not ready for trial within "ninety days of the commencement of a criminal action wherein a defendant is accused of one or more offenses, at least one of which is a misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of more than three months and none of which is a felony. .." In calculating chargeable time, the court must first calculate the period of time between the filing of an accusatory instrument and the People's declaration of readiness for trial, less any time statutorily excludable and plus any post-readiness delays attributable to the People (CPL § 30.30; People v. Cortes, 80 NY2d 201, 208 [1992]).

Before they may declare readiness for trial, the People must have done "all that is required of them to bring the case to a point where it may be tried" (People v. England, 84 NY2d 1, 4 [1994]). At that point, the People are deemed ready for trial only if they have stated their readiness in open court or by written notice to defense counsel and the Court (People v. Kendzia, 64 NY2d 331, 337 [1985]). After the People have announced their readiness, the People are charged for adjournments caused solely and exclusively by the People, providing that the time is not otherwise excludable under CPL § 30.30(4) (see People v. Cortes, 80 NY2d 201, 210 [1992]).

What most criminal defendants, and sometimes the attorneys on either side, fail to realize is that the People must do more than simply answer ready. Indeed "in order to be effective, a statement of readiness must convey a state of actual readiness for trial" (see People v. England, 84 NY2d 1, 4 [1994]; People v. Kendzia, 64 NY2d 331 [1985]). "Actual readiness" presupposes a jurisdictionally valid accusatory instrument conforming to the requirements of CPL § 100.40 (People v. Dreyden, 15 NY3d 100 [2010]). The Criminal Procedure Law dictates that "Without a fully converted, facially sufficient information, any statement of readiness by the People is illusory and ineffective" See id.; People v. Colon, 110 Misc 2d 917, 920 [Crim Ct, New York County 1981], affd 59 NY2d 921 [1983]; People v. Santini, 59 Misc 3d 223 [Crim Ct, New York County 2018]; People v. N.S., 58 Misc 3d 613 [Crim Ct, Queens County 2018]).

The Court in , recites the oft forgotten standard that "A criminal complaint that relies on hearsay allegations must be accompanied by "sufficient supporting depositions. .. that remove all hearsay from the complaint and thereby establish a prima facie case against the defendant" (People v. Flores, 189 Misc 2d 665, 666 [Crim Ct, Queens County 2001]).

The People cannot be ready for trial on a facially insufficient instrument or an unconverted misdemeanor complaint

From illegal treehouses to aggravated harassment accusations, the accused should not waive his or her right to a legally sufficient accusatory instrument. Like all other rights, Defendants who fail to exercise their rights may waive them with the direst of consequences.

The case is People v. JOHNSON-McLEAN, 2019 N.Y. Slip Op 51941 (Crim. Ct. 2019). Case dismissed.

Hire an attorney who knows the difference. If you are accused of a crime you cannot afford to have an attorney who is unable or unwilling to exercise your statutory and constitutional rights.

Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954) 998-2918 (FLA)


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