1. Whether a pre-arraignment declaration of readiness prior to a defendant's arraignment is effective to stop the "speedy trial" clock under CPL 30.30 when, within six months of the filing of the complaint, the government filed the indictment, announced its readiness on the record, and attempted to notify the defendants.
2. Whether scheduling an arraignment date and securing a defendant's appearance is the government's responsibility in assuring a "speedy trial," and thus, whether any delay between the pre-arraignment declaration and the arraignment is charged to the government.
1. Yes. Provided that the declaration accurately reflects the government's position and the government attempt to contact the defendant is not made in bad faith, such a declaration of readiness is effective to stop the "speedy trial" clock.
2. No. The responsibility of scheduling an arraignment date and securing a defendant's appearance lies with the court and any such delay cannot be charged to the government.
On May 31, 1995, the government filed a felony complaint charging several defendants with Assault in the Second Degree. On November 16, 1995, the government sent letters to the defendants at their last known addresses. These letters were returned undelivered. On November 22, 1995, the government filed an indictment charging the defendants with Assault in the First Degree, made a declaration of readiness in open court, and again mailed letters to the defendants at their last known addresses; these letters informed the defendants of the indictment, the government's readiness, and the scheduled arraignment date of November 28, 1995. Although the defendants failed to appear as scheduled, they were ultimately arraigned more than six months following the filling of the complaint. The defendants argued before a Judicial Hearing Officer that the declaration was premature because the defendants had not yet been arraigned, that the government did not exercise due diligence in contacting the defendants, and that the government was not ready to proceed at the time of its declaration. The trial court granted the defendants' motion based on the Judicial Hearing Officer's recommendation on the grounds that the defendants were not produced within the prescribed six months under CPL 30.30. The Appellate Division affirmed without opinion. The Court of Appeals reversed, stating that a pre-arraignment declaration of readiness is valid under CPL 30.30 if the government is truly ready to proceed, if the indictment is made at least two days before the six month period ends, and if attempts to contact the defendants are not made in bad faith. The Court of Appeals further stated that any delay resulting from scheduling an arraignment date and securing a defendant's appearance is the responsibility of the court and may not be charged to the government.
Prepared by the liibulletin-ny Editorial Board.