The First Department, over an extensive two-justice dissent, determined the trial court properly denied defendant’s motion to dismiss on speedy-trial grounds stemming from the six-year delay between the shooting and trial. The defendant and another man, Armstead, were charged in the shooting death of a bystander while intending to shoot another. The People wanted to convict Armstead before trying defendant in the hope Armstead would testify against defendant. Three trials of Armstead ended in at least a partial mistrial. Before the fourth trial, Armstead pled guilty to manslaughter. Over the course of the six years, delays were incurred, inter alia, because counsel were unavailable and because of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy:
The chronology of this case highlights some of the problems faced by the courts of this state in large metropolitan areas. These include overburdened courts, overcrowded jails, and overworked prosecutors and legal services defense counsel. Nevertheless, these issues must be considered in the context of this particular case as they affect, if at all, this particular defendant.
The dissent tends to minimize the defense side of the equation in determining the reason for the delay, choosing to focus on the prosecution’s attempt to get Armstead to testify against defendant as the main reason for the delay in bringing him to trial. While the attempt to get Armstead to testify against defendant certainly played an important role in the delay, it is not the only reason and ignores the many other causes for the delay.
The … chronology shows that much of the delay was occasioned by requests for adjournments by defendant and/or his codefendant for motion practice, change of counsel, discovery proceedings, unavailability of co-defendant’s counsel and the like. In the analogous CPL 30.30 situation, adjournments granted with a codefendant’s consent are not chargeable to the People … , and they should not be chargeable here. Despite the dissent’s conclusion to the contrary, the record supports the conclusion that these adjournments were not motivated by a goal on the part of the People to gain an unfair tactical advantage over defendant … . People v Wiggins, 2016 NY Slip Op 06538, 1st Dept 10-6-16
CRIMINAL LAW (SIX YEAR DELAY IN BRINGING DEFENDANT TO TRIAL WAS NOT MOTIVATED BY THE PEOPLE’S ATTEMPT TO GAIN A TACTICAL ADVANTAGE; DISMISSAL ON SPEEDY TRIAL GROUNDS PROPERLY DENIED)/SPEEDY TRIAL (SIX YEAR DELAY IN BRINGING DEFENDANT TO TRIAL WAS NOT MOTIVATED BY THE PEOPLE’S ATTEMPT TO GAIN A TACTICAL ADVANTAGE; DISMISSAL ON SPEEDY TRIAL GROUNDS PROPERLY DENIED)