Court Decision: New York's High Court Affirms Dismissal Due to Speedy Trial Violation

Court of Appeals: People v. Labate

New York’s High Court Affirms Dismissal Due to Speedy Trial Violation

In December 2017, Mr. Labate was arrested and charged with reckless driving and related offenses. Because the most serious offense with which he was charged was a class A misdemeanor, the People were required to be ready for trial within 90 days. In February 2019, the People indicated they were ready for trial. Criminal court denied Mr. Labate’s motion to dismiss on speedy trial grounds, but the Appellate Term reversed, determining the People failed to provide any explanation for their failure to be ready in the key 43-day time period at issue.

In a People’s appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. The Court reiterated that the obligation is on the prosecution to ensure that the record explains the cause of adjournments. When the People failed to offer a reason for a postreadiness adjournment request causing delay of an already scheduled trial date, the prosecution should be charged with the entire delay, not merely the length of adjournment they requested. Because in this case the prosecution filed an off-calendar statement of readiness, were not ready on three successive trial dates, and failed to provide any explanation, the time period is properly charged to the People. Dismissal was therefore warranted, since the chargeable time exceeded the 90-day limit.

Brian Perbix represented Mr. Labate