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Indictment Dismissed for Speedy Trial Violations

The Constitution and Criminal Defense Attorneys are not always aligned - in this case, this client hears the words that all the accused want to hear "On this record, the full 43-day adjournment is chargeable to the People, and the indictment was properly dismissed." In People v. LaBate, 2024 N.Y. Slip Op 1582, the facts are terrible, "Patrick Labate was arrested and charged with reckless driving (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1212) and related offenses. In short, he crashed his car into a parked police vehicle that had its overhead lights activated." New York State has statutory speedy trial rights (pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law Section 30.30) and Constitutional Speedy trial rights. A motion under CPL 30.30 was filed.

The High Court in this criminal case, the New York Court of Appeals Criminal Defense, notes that the defense attorney for LaBate filed a motion arguing "that the People's failure to be ready on successive trial dates and requests for specific adjournments without offering any explanations rendered the earlier statement of readiness illusory." In response, there was no explanation. So how does this case get to the highest court in the state of New York regarding Speedy Trial?

Criminal Court denied Mr. Labate's motion to dismiss. The court found the People were chargeable with 75 days and rejected Mr. Labate's claim that the People should be charged with the entire 43-day adjournment from September to October. The court reasoned that September 5th was the People's first postreadiness declaration of unreadiness and as "the case was not adjourned to the People's requested date, there is no basis to believe that the People would not actually be ready on the requested date." Mr. Labate's case proceeded to trial where a jury convicted him of reckless driving and acquitted him of all the remaining charges.

While the criminal court wished to excuse the People, prosecutors who were pursuing charges against the criminal defendant, the appellate court reversed. The Court "reasoned that, because the People did not "provide any explanation, reasonable or otherwise, for their failure to be ready on September 5, 2018, October 18, 2018 or November 28, 2018[,]" Mr. Labate "met his burden of demonstrating that the People's statement that they would be ready for trial on September 17th, which is `presumed truth and accurate,' was illusory" (id. at 2, quoting People v Brown, 28 NY3d 392, 405 [2016])."

The issue in this case is "charge time in this case exists purely in a postreadiness context—meaning, the time after which the People have already declared ready for trial." The Court of Appeals notes the legal standard for Statutory Speedy Trial in New York State:

Section 30.30 of the Criminal Procedure Law was enacted in 1972 to address prosecutorial delays that "deprived defendants of their right to a prompt trial, hindered the People's ability to try cases effectively, and undermined public confidence in the criminal justice system" (People v Anderson, 66 NY2d 529, 535 n 1 [1985]; see also People v Sinistaj, 67 NY2d 236, 239 [1986]; People v Price, 14 NY3d 61, 64 [2010]; Brown, 28 NY3d at 403). The statute places a specific time limit on the People to be ready for trial and otherwise requires dismissal....Being "ready for trial" requires the People to make a statement of readiness, either on the record in open court or as a written off-calendar notice (People v Chavis, 91 NY2d 500, 505 [1998]; see also People v Kendzia, 64 NY2d 331, 337 [1985]). Because a statement of readiness serves to "toll the `speedy trial clock' from running" either completely or "for the remainder of that adjournment period" (People v Stirrup, 91 NY2d 434, 440 [1998]), a declaration of readiness must be more than "merely mouthing those words" (People v England, 84 NY2d 1, 5 [1994]). Announcing trial readiness cannot simply be an "empty declaration that the People are prepared to present their case" but instead must affirm that "the People have done all that is required of them to bring the case to a point where it may be tried" (id. at 4).

The Court of Appeals, in Criminal Speedy Trial Criminal Defense matters, holds that "our precedents consistently explain that if the People are not ready for trial after they have declared readiness and seek an adjournment, the People must provide an explanation for their post-readiness requests for adjournments either some time before or in response to a defendant's CPL 30.30 motion." This is not new law but, again, makes clear the requirement on the People to do something if it cannot try the case, it is (again) the obligation of "the People to ensure that the record explains the cause of adjournments." The People can make this statement in Court or out of Court, "However, when the People have failed to offer a reason for a postreadiness adjournment request causing delay of a previously scheduled trial date, they are charged with the entire delay, not merely the length of the adjournment they requested."

Above dissent, the Court of Appeals reitterates the change in New York Speedy trial Law: "Section 30.30 now provides that "[a]ny such exclusion when a statement of unreadiness has followed a statement of readiness made by the [P]eople must be evaluated by the court after inquiry on the record as to the reasons for the [P]eople's unreadiness and shall only be approved upon a showing of sufficient supporting facts" (CPL 30.30[4][g])."

The case is People v. LaBate, 2024 N.Y. Slip Op 1582 (2024): Speedy Trial Dismissal of Reckless Driving in New York State Granted.

Cory H. Morris, Esq. New York and Florida, Injury, Addiction, Accident, Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954)-745-4592 (FLA)

New York State Criminal Defense: Call 631-450-2515 or E-Mail to arrange for an evaluation of your injury, accident, traffic matter, criminal matter or appellate matter.


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