Tag: first degree murder indictment

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In People v. Clark, the New York Court of Appeals throw out a first degree murder charges because the People, the prosecutor, did not act diligently in obtaining evidence.

The issue was ” whether the Appellate Division erred in holding that the People were chargeable with the period of delay of 161 days for DNA testing after having failed to exercise due diligence in seeking defendant’s DNA exemplar in order to conduct comparative testing with the DNA obtained by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) from the gun that was the subject of weapons offenses charged in the indictment.” Id. at 1

In the end, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the attempted first degree murder indictment on speedy trial grounds. While DNA had been recovered from the gun involved, a swab of the Defendant’s DNA was not taken until nine months after indictment:

CPL 30.30, the “so-called ‘speedy trial’ statute,” is a longstanding fixture in our State’s prosecution of criminal actions and was specifically intended “to address delays occasioned by prosecutorial inaction” (People v McKenna, 76 NY2d 59, 63 [1990]). In 1972, when the legislature enacted CPL 30.30, it was accompanied by a memorandum of the State Executive Department, Crime Control Counsel which declared “the purpose of the bill [is to] ‘promote prompt trials for defendants in criminal cases,'” noting “that ‘[t]he public, defendants and the victims of crimes all have a strong interest in the prompt trial of criminal cases'” (People v Anderson, 66 NY2d 529, 535 n 1 [1985], quoting 1972 McKinney’s Session Laws of NY, at 3259).

“Pursuant to CPL 30.30 (1)(a), the People must be ready for trial within six months of the commencement of a criminal action accusing a defendant of a felony offense” (People v Carter, 91 NY2d 795, 798 [1998]). “CPL 30.30 (4) lists the periods which are to be excluded from the computation of time within which the People are required to be ready” (McKenna, 76 NY2d at 62). CPL 30.30 (4) (g), the statutory provision at issue here, allows the exclusion of “periods of delay occasioned by exceptional circumstances” in obtaining unavailable evidence “material to the people’s case, when the district attorney has exercised due diligence to obtain such evidence” (CPL 30.30 [4] [g]).

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