People v. Brown, 2022-50234

CourtNew York City Court
Writing for the CourtJoshua L. Farrell, J.
PartiesThe People of the State of New York, Plaintiff, v. Kara Brown, Defendant.
Decision Date04 April 2022
Docket Number2022-50234,File CR 2153-21

The People of the State of New York, Plaintiff,

Kara Brown, Defendant.

No. 2022-50234

File No. CR 2153-21

City Court of Albany, Albany County

April 4, 2022

Unpublished Opinion

P. David Soares, Esq., Albany County District Attorney

By: Alizabeth H. Volkman, Esq., Assistant District Attorney

Stephen Herrick, Esq., Albany County Public Defender

By: Michelle H. Walton, Esq., Assistant Public Defender

Joshua L. Farrell, J.

Defendant, Kara Brown, stands charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree and criminal contempt in the second degree. Penal Law §§240.30(2) and 215.50(3). The jury trial of these charges is scheduled to begin on May 2, 2022.

Defendant now moves, based upon a recent document disclosure by the People, for an order invalidating the People's December 17, 2021 Certificate of Compliance ("CoC") and Statement of Trial Readiness ("STR"). The People opposed the motion, which is now fully submitted. Because the People failed set forth any facts to demonstrate their due diligence, reasonable inquires, or good faith in ascertaining the existence of the previously undisclosed document, defendant's motion is granted.

Starting with CPL §245.20(2)'s unambiguous discovery directive, the "prosecutor shall make a diligent, good faith effort to ascertain the existence of material or information discoverable under subdivision one of this section and to cause such material or information to be made available for discovery..." The statutory obligation is twofold: the People must make a "diligent, good faith effort to ascertain" discoverable material and information, and then make it "available" to the defense.

After completing their CPL §245.20(2) obligations, the People must certify their discovery compliance. CPL §245.50(1). The People must certify that they first "exercis[ed] due diligence and ma[de] reasonable inquiries [and then, second, ] disclosed and made available all known material and information subject to discovery." Id. This certification requirement explicitly recognizes that not all discoverable items will be turned over. Some materials may be "lost or destroyed [or the] subject of [a protective] order." Id. In such case, the People may file a "proper" certificate of discovery compliance by providing the defense with "information" about the discovery not actually provided. CPL §245.50(1) and (3).

Where the propriety of the People's CPL §245.50(1) certification is at issue, as it is here, the legislature provided specific guidance:

"No adverse consequence to the prosecution or the prosecutor shall result from the filing of a certificate of compliance in good faith and reasonable under the circumstances; but the court may grant a remedy or sanction for a discovery violation as provided in section 245.80 of this article."

CPL§ 245.50(1). Of course, if the People fail to demonstrate that they proceeded with "due diligence and ma[de] reasonable inquiries" or they fail to establish that their efforts were made "in good faith reasonable under the circumstances" their CPL §245.50(1) certification would not be "proper."

Within this statutory structure, a burden shifting analysis is readily apparent. First, the defendant must identify a specific defect with the People's CPL §245.50(1) certificate of discovery compliance. In response, the burden shifts to the People to demonstrate the propriety of their certification. The People must make a factual showing that establishes their due diligence and reasonable inquiries with respect to the specific items of discovery at issue. They must demonstrate that their efforts were made in good faith and reasonable under the specific circumstances of the case. see generally People v Pierna, - Misc.3d -, 2022 WL 700447, at *9 (Crim Ct, Bronx County, Mar 2, 2022). "This may be accomplished by recounting the steps they took to obtain certain materials or...

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