People v. Nelson, 2022-50347

CourtNew York Civil Court
Writing for the CourtSOMA SYED, J.C.C.
PartiesThe People of the State of New York, v. Ernest Nelson, Defendant.
Decision Date02 May 2022
Docket NumberCR-019708-21NY,2022-50347

The People of the State of New York,
v.

Ernest Nelson, Defendant.

No. 2022-50347

Docket No. CR-019708-21NY

Civil Court of the City of New York, New York County

May 2, 2022


Unpublished Opinion

Assistant District Attorney Adam Maltz for the People

Surraya Elizabeth Johnson for the defense.

SOMA SYED, J.C.C.

Defendant, charged with one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree in violation of Penal Law § 220.03, moves this Court to find the People's Certificate of Compliance ("COC"), filed on November 10, 2021, invalid, and for an order dismissing the accusatory instrument pursuant to CPL § 30.30.

The People oppose defendant's motion, arguing that the COC was valid because it was made in good faith, and because they exercised due diligence and made reasonable inquiries to find and provide all necessary discovery prior to certifying compliance. Accordingly, the People argue that because their COC was valid, they have not exceeded the CPL § 30.30 speedy trial time limitations. For the reasons stated below, the defendant's motion is DENIED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 1, 2021, the People filed the accusatory instrument commencing this action. On November 10, 2021, the People filed the Discovery Package, Automatic Discovery Form (ADF), Certificate of Readiness (COR), Certificate of Compliance (COC), Affidavit of Service, and a Table of Contents (TOC). The arresting officers' body-worn camera footage was listed in both the People's ADF and TOC and was uploaded to the eDiscovery portal for transmission. (Vidal Aff. ¶ 8). The footage, however, was not transmitted along with the other items of discovery. (Vidal Aff. ¶ 9).

After serving the discovery, the People emailed defense counsel regarding the discovery listed in the ADF and TOC, and inquired of defense counsel whether all had been received by the defense. (Vidal Aff. ¶ 8, Exhibits 6, 7, Email dated November 10, 2021, and Email dated November 16, 2021). The People did not receive a reply to their email on November 10th, nor did they receive a reply to their November 16th email on the date of its transmission.

On November 29, 2021, 19 days after the ADF was filed, and after the People's emails inquiring into the defense's receipt of all discovery, defense counsel alerted the People that, unlike the rest of the documents provided in eDiscovery, the body-worn camera footage had not been received. (Exhibit 9). Upon seeing that the body-worn camera footage had not transmitted as intended, the People disclosed the footage via the eDiscovery portal within two hours of receiving defense counsel's November 29th notification, and sent an email alerting defense counsel of the transmission. (Vidal Aff. ¶ 9, Exhibit 10).

On December 1, 2021, the defendant filed an omnibus motion which included a challenge to the People's compliance with CPL Article 245. On December 2, 2021, Judge Morales adjourned the matter for a response and decision on the defendant's omnibus motion. At that appearance, Judge Morales left the issue of the validity of the November 10, 2021 COC open to further briefing and adjourned the case for decision.

On January 27, 2022, the court granted defendant a Mapp/Dunaway hearing, and ordered that the parties confer on all issues regarding discovery pursuant CPL § 245.35. The case was then adjourned for hearing and trial to March 2, 2022.

On March 2, 2022, the People announced ready for trial, but the case was adjourned due to defendant appearing virtually and stating that he was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Defense counsel again raised the issue of the November 10th COC, and the People specified that its witnesses, and prosecutor were ready, and that it had complied with CPL Article 245. [1] The case was adjourned to March 24th for trial.

On March 24, 2022, People announced not ready due to the unavailability of the arresting officer, and requested March 30, 2022 for trial. The court adjourned for hearings and trial to March 30, 2022.

On March 30, 2022, the People again announced ready for trial. The defendant then filed the instant dismissal motion and the case was adjourned to for response and decision.

DISCUSSION

Defendant is charged with "at least one... misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of more than three months." CPL 30.30(l)(b). Thus, his motion to dismiss must be granted if the People were not ready for trial within 90 chargeable days of the commencement of the action. Id. Central to defendant's motion to dismiss is defendant's claim that the People's COC filed on November 10, 2021 was invalid, and therefore the People were not ready for trial upon its filing.

Validity of the People's Certificate of Compliance

The People filed their COC on November 10, 2021 after serving discovery disclosures pursuant to CPL §§ 245.20(1) and 245.50(1). The defendant asserts that the November 10, 2021 COC was invalid based on the People's failure to disclose the body-worn camera footage. See Defs Mot. at p. 4.

Under CPL § 245.50(1), the People's COC can be deemed valid if filed "in good faith and reasonable under the circumstances." The legislature specifically included "due diligence" and "good faith" in the statutory language in recognition that a COC could be valid even when certain materials had not been disclosed. See CPL § 245.50(1); People v. Williams, Crim Ct NY County, October 18, 2021, Thompson, J., Dkt. No. CR-000709-20NY at p. 5; People v. Ingramminors, Crim Ct NY County, April 14, 2021, Diaz, J., Dkt. No . CR-020938-20NY at p. 6; People v. Knight, 69 Misc.3d 546, 552 (Sup. Ct., Kings Co. 2020) (deeming a COC valid even when an additional "discovery...

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