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Case dismissed on speedy trial grounds

Prosecutor 'never stated ready for trial'

By: Bennett Loudon//January 25, 2023

Case dismissed on speedy trial grounds

Prosecutor 'never stated ready for trial'

By: Bennett Loudon//January 25, 2023//

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A New York City criminal court judge has dismissed a case on speedy trial grounds.

Judge Wanda L. Licitra, in Queens, granted a defense motion to dismiss the case because the prosecutor never stated he was ready for trial within the statutory 90-day period.

The prosecutor claimed that the defense waived their right to a speedy trial “by emailing that they were interested in a disposition,” according to Licitra’s decision

The case started on July 19 when the defendant, identified as Mr. Johnnie, was a charged with a misdemeanor punishable by 364 days in jail.

At the arraignment, the prosecutor was not ready for trial. The case was adjourned to Sept. 22. On that date, the prosecutor again was not ready for trial and the case was adjourned to Nov. 17.

On Oct. 27, 100 days after the arraignment, Johnnie’s attorney sent an email to the prosecutor saying that, “in the interest of expediency,” Johnnie was willing to plead guilty to disorderly conduct if the case could be moved up to a sooner date.

On Oct. 28, the prosecutor contacted a court asking to reschedule the case for a sooner date. But the court could not accommodate the request, so the next adjournment date remained Nov. 17.

On Nov. 17, the defense sought a dismissal on speedy trial grounds.

The 90-day window for the prosecutor to declare readiness for trial ended on Oct. 17.

“The People did not state ready for trial before that date. Indeed, they have never stated ready for trial,” Judge Licitra wrote in the decision.

The prosecution did not claim that any time within the 90 days after arraignment was excludable. And the prosecutor did not claim that the defense caused any delay, she wrote.

The prosecutor argued that by sending an email expressing interest in a disposition 100 days after the arraignment the defense essentially waived Johnnie’s statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights.

In the message, the defense attorney wrote that she was aware “the defendant’s statutory speedy trial rights were ripe, and that there was a reason in which the defendant nonetheless wished to plead guilty.”

“While a person entirely waives their (speedy trial) claim upon actually pleading guilty, there is no authority that the same occurs simply upon a defense attorney’s email expressing interest in a disposition,” Licitra wrote.

“Accordingly, the court must grant the defense’s motion. The case is dismissed,” she wrote.

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