People v. Weissinger, 2022-50221

CourtNew York Justice Court
Writing for the CourtRobert L. Cook, J.
PartiesThe People of the State of New York, Plaintiff v. David J. Weissinger, Defendant.
Docket Number2022-50221
Decision Date23 March 2022

The People of the State of New York, Plaintiff

David J. Weissinger, Defendant.

No. 2022-50221

Justice Court of the Town of Henrietta, Monroe County

March 23, 2022

Unpublished Opinion

For the People:Sandra Doorley, Monroe County District Attorney

By: Armando Benitez, Assistant District Attorney

For the Defendant:Timothy Donaher, Monroe County Public Defender

By: Efthimia Bechrakis, Assistant Public Defender

Robert L. Cook, J.

The Defendant moves for an order invalidating the People's certificate of compliance and statement of readiness for trial ("COC") and dismissing the People's accusatory instrument on the grounds that he has been denied a speedy trial by virtue of incomplete and untimely discovery. The motion is granted. The COC is declared invalid and the accusatory instrument is dismissed.

On September 21, 2021, the Defendant was arraigned on charges of violating Vehicle and Traffic Law §1192(3) - Driving While Intoxicated 1st Offense and Vehicle and Traffic Law §1129(A) - Following Too Close. He pled not guilty and the matter was adjourned to October 21, 2021 for discovery and possible disposition. The following day, September 22, 2021, the People filed a certificate of compliance and statement of readiness for trial ("COC").

On October 21, 2021, the Defendant reported that discovery was incomplete due to the People's failure to provide the 911 telephone calls and the motor vehicle accident report; requested an adjournment for purposes of filing an omnibus motion; and waived CPL §30.30 time. The Court adjourned the case to November 29, 2021 for argument of the omnibus motion and directed the people to complete discovery by that date.

On October 28, 2021, the Defendant filed the omnibus motion. The People's response and cross-motion were filed on November 29, 2021. At that day's motion hearing, the Defendant advised the Court that the 911 telephone calls and motor vehicle accident report remained outstanding. The Court imposed a December 14, 2021 deadline for discovery to be completed and scheduled a probable cause and Huntley hearing for January 26, 2022. However, the 911 calls and motor vehicle accident report were not provided to the Defendant until January 24, 2022. At the January 26, 2022 probable cause and Huntley hearing the People requested an adjournment due to the unavailability of their witness. The hearing was adjourned to February 23, 2022.

This motion to dismiss was filed by the Defendant on February 7, 2022. On February 17, 2022 at the Defendant's request, the Court indefinitely postponed the probable cause and Huntley hearing in order to hear arguments on the dismissal motion on February 23, 2022 instead. The People filed a Supplemental COC and response to the motion at the February 23rd hearing. Following argument, the Court reserved decision on the dismissal motion until and ordered that any supplemental arguments or authority be filed with the Court in writing within ten days. None were received.

The Defendant's argument is that the September 22, 2021 COC was illusory because discovery was not complete at that time, that more than 90 days chargeable to the People elapsed from the date of the Defendant's arraignment to the filing of the Supplemental COC, and that consequently the accusatory instrument should be dismissed pursuant to CPL §30.30(1)(b). The Defendant calculates 139 days chargeable to the People.

The People argue that the COC was not illusory. It was offered in good faith and reasonable under the circumstances because the 911 calls were not in the People's possession and that the failure to provide the motor vehicle accident report was not prejudicial to the Defendant because the information was available in other documents that were produced. The People calculate 13 days chargeable to themselves if the COC is found not illusory and 42 days if it is illusory.

The automatic discovery provisions of CPL §245.20, coupled with the speedy trial dictates of CPL §30.30 (1)(b) require the People to complete relevant discovery to the Defendant within 90 days after a misdemeanor arraignment.

CPL §245.50 requires the People to file a COC when discovery is complete certifying that "after exercising due diligence and making reasonable inquiries to ascertain the existence of material and information subject to discovery, the prosecutor has disclosed and made available all known material and information subject to discovery," CPL §245.50(1) and that "the People shall not be deemed ready for trial for purposes of section 30.30 of this chapter until it has filed a proper certificate pursuant to subdivision one of this section," CPL §245.50(3).

Although CPL §245.50(3) exempts from mandatory discovery lost or destroyed items or those under a protective order, CPL §245.50(1) also provides that "[n]o adverse consequence to the People or prosecutor shall result from the filing of a certificate of compliance in good faith and reasonable under the circumstances."

"Clearly, the People's trial readiness is now directly tied to meeting their discovery obligations, 'such that discovery compliance is a condition precedent to a valid announcement of readiness for trial.'" (People v. Quinlan, 71 Misc.3d 266, 270 [Crim Ct, Bronx County 2021], quoting People v. Lobato, 66 Misc.3d 1230 [A], 2020 NY Slip Op. 50322 [U], *4 [Crim Ct, Kings County 2020].) Absent a valid exception, a COC filed prior to discovery compliance is illusory and does not stop the speedy trial clock. (People v. Cooper, 71 Misc.3d 559, 565 [Erie County Ct...

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