People v. Anderson

Decision Date26 December 1985
Citation66 N.Y.2d 529,488 N.E.2d 1231,498 N.Y.S.2d 119
Parties, 488 N.E.2d 1231 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Frank ANDERSON, Appellant. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Michael JONES, Appellant. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Nelson SALSEDO, Appellant. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Roger ALLEN, Appellant. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Jose ALICEA, Appellant.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

MEYER, Judge.

Although CPL 30.30(3)(b) recognizes the right of a defendant to move for dismissal after the People have answered ready, that provision simply preserves for the People such portion of the readiness period established by the section as remained available when readiness was originally declared, in the limited situation where "some exceptional fact or circumstance," occurring after the initial readiness response, makes it impossible for the People to proceed. The rules governing postreadiness failures on the part of the People differ from those relating to prereadiness default on their part not only in the "exceptional fact or circumstance" requirement but also because on a "postreadiness" motion only delay by the People is to be considered, except as subdivision 4 otherwise requires. Even as to a postreadiness failure, however, the criminal action should not be dismissed if the failure, although it affected defendant's ability to proceed with trial, had no bearing on the People's readiness, or if a lesser corrective action, such as preclusion or continuance, would have been available had the People's postreadiness default occurred during trial. In each case, therefore, the order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed.


The speedy trial guarantee established by the 6th Amendment to the Federal Constitution and embodied in CPL 30.20 and Civil Rights Law § 12 is intended to ensure fair and humane treatment of an accused person by protecting him or her against prolonged imprisonment while awaiting trial, providing relief from the anxiety and public suspicion that accompanies a criminal accusation which remains untried, and reducing the possibility that through the loss of witnesses or the dulling of memory the means of proving his or her innocence may be lost (People v. Johnson, 38 N.Y.2d 271, 276, 379 N.Y.S.2d 735, 342 N.E.2d 525; People v. Imbesi, 38 N.Y.2d 629, 631, 381 N.Y.S.2d 862, 345 N.E.2d 333; People v. Prosser, 309 N.Y. 353, 356, 130 N.E.2d 891). It also serves the interests of society in seeing that those accused of crime are swiftly brought to justice (People v. Johnson, 38 N.Y.2d, at p. 276, 379 N.Y.S.2d 735, 342 N.E.2d 525, supra ).

Although CPL 30.30, like 30.20, is entitled "speedy trial", and in large part serves the same purposes, 1 the history of its adoption makes evident that it addresses only the problem of prosecutorial readiness, and is not a speedy trial statute in the constitutional sense (People v. Worley, 66 N.Y.2d 523, 527, 498 N.Y.S.2d 116, 488 N.E.2d 1228 People v. Brothers, 50 N.Y.2d 413, 416-417, 429 N.Y.S.2d 558, 407 N.E.2d 405; People ex rel. Franklin v. Warden, Brooklyn House of Detention for Men, 31 N.Y.2d 498, 501-502, 341 N.Y.S.2d 604, 234 N.E.2d 199; Bellacosa, Practice Commentary, McKinney's Cons Laws, Book 11A, CPL 30.30, pp. 148-149).

The section is to be interpreted in light of its purposes and legislative history, but also so as to harmonize its various provisions (Sanders v. Winship, 57 N.Y.2d 391, 396, 456 N.Y.S.2d 720, 442 N.E.2d 1231; People v. Mobil Oil Corp., 48 N.Y.2d 192, 199, 422 N.Y.S.2d 33, 397 N.E.2d 724; McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 1, Statutes §§ 97, 98, 130). So interpreted it is clear that our holding in People v. Giordano, 56 N.Y.2d 524, 525, 449 N.Y.S.2d 955, 434 N.E.2d 1333, "that when the District Attorney had announced his readiness on the record he had satisfied his obligation under CPL 30.30" is read too broadly if taken to mean that no delay on the part of the People occurring after announcement of readiness is to be counted against them in determining whether the readiness requirements of the section have been met. This follows from the fact that in Giordano "the People established on the record their continued readiness for trial during the period and further established that the delay was attributable to court congestion" (People v. Giordano, 81 A.D.2d 1003, 440 N.Y.S.2d 110), for it is well settled that "language of any opinion must be confined to the facts before the court" (Dougherty v. Equitable Life Assur. Socy., 266 N.Y. 71, 88, 193 N.E. 897; accord, Danann Realty Corp. v. Harris, 5 N.Y.2d 317, 322, 184 N.Y.S.2d 599, 157 N.E.2d 597; People v. Olah, 300 N.Y. 96, 101, 89 N.E.2d 329; see, People v. Ford, 62 N.Y.2d 275, 281, n., 476 N.Y.S.2d 783, 465 N.E.2d 322). The refusal to read Giordano so broadly follows also from CPL 30.30(3)(b), for its wording 2 makes clear beyond dispute that, notwithstanding that the People have answered ready for trial within the statutory time limit, a postreadiness motion to dismiss may be made.

But it is a misinterpretation of the subdivision to read good faith into it, as did the courts below in People v. Anderson, 105 A.D.2d 38, 482 N.Y.S.2d 745, and People v. Salsedo, 107 A.D.2d 579, 483 N.Y.S.2d 299, for its reference to "exceptional fact or circumstance" evidences that more than good faith is required. Particularly is this so when that phrase is read together with the concluding clause illustrating the kind of "fact or circumstance" intended by the subdivision--"including, but not limited to, the sudden unavailability of evidence material to the people's case, when the district attorney has exercised due diligence to obtain such evidence and there are reasonable grounds to believe that such evidence will become available in a reasonable period." The necessary implication of the use of "sudden unavailability" and "due diligence" in that provision (see also, subd 4is that postreadiness delay is not excused because inadvertent, no matter how pure the intention.

A further implication of subdivision 3(b) is that with respect to postreadiness delay it is the People's delay alone that is to be considered, except where that delay directly "results from" action taken by the defendant within the meaning of subdivisions 4(a), 4(b), 4(c) or 4(e), or is occasioned by exceptional circumstances arising out of defendant's action within the meaning of subdivision 4(g), for otherwise the causal relationship required by those subdivisions is not present (People v. Colon, 59 N.Y.2d 921, 466 N.Y.S.2d 319, 453 N.E.2d 548; People v. Williams, 56 N.Y.2d 824, 452 N.Y.S.2d 571, 438 N.E.2d 104; People v. Sturgis, 38 N.Y.2d 625, 381 N.Y.S.2d 860, 345 N.E.2d 331; see, People v. Worley, supra ).

This is not to say that by answering ready prior to the expiration of the applicable period stated in subdivision 1 or subdivision 2 the People forfeit their right to the time remaining. The statute was intended to limit the People's time for preparation to the period specified, but they are entitled to the full period allowed, either before or after answering ready. To permit the "tacking" of pre- and postreadiness periods is as much in defendant's interest as in the People's, for a contrary rule might otherwise result in the People withholding their declaration of readiness, and the consequent movement of the case to trial, until just prior to the expiration of the applicable period.

But not every postreadiness default by the People not generated by exceptional circumstances or resulting from action of the defendant will permit a Trial Judge to dismiss the criminal action. There is no inherent power to dismiss (People v. Douglass, 60 N.Y.2d 194, 469 N.Y.S.2d 56, 456 N.E.2d 1179) and the purposes motivating enactment of CPL 30.30 do not mandate posteadiness dismissal when a lesser sanction is available. Thus, the failure to make Rosario material available as required by CPL 240.45 may result under CPL 240.70 in discovery, a continuance, a protective or preclusion order or any other appropriate action, and the failure to give defendant notice of intention to offer evidence of a statement made by him or her prior to trial may, when good cause is shown, result, under CPL 710.30, in permission to give notice during trial and a suppression hearing promptly thereafter. Dismissal for lack of Rosario material would be appropriate only on motion pursuant to CPL 30.20 and only if preclusion or a short continuance would violate the defendant's constitutional and statutory right to a speedy trial (CPL 30.20) after weighing the factors identified in People v. Taranovich, 37 N.Y.2d 442, 445, 373 N.Y.S.2d...

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