The First Department, reversing the motion court, over a two-justice dissent, determined the defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment because of a violation of the speedy trial statute should have been granted. The People were aware of a key witness's plan to vacation out of the country. Therefore, the witness's unavailability could not be considered an “exceptional circumstance” justifying the exclusion of time under the speedy trial statute:
… [T]he mere fact that a necessary witness plans to go on a vacation does not relieve them of their speedy trial obligation … .
… The People knew that their cooperative witness was planning a vacation to the Dominican Republic, yet they failed to call him or to otherwise secure his presence before he left the country. The prosecutor admitted that although learning of the witness's proposed vacation plans on July 25, 2013, and being specifically asked by the witness to contact him the next day to discuss the trial schedule and his proposed vacation, no one from the District Attorney's office tried to contact the witness until July 30, 2013, at which time they learned he had already left on vacation. Although the witness indicated a willingness to work with the prosecutor on scheduling his vacation and had not yet bought his ticket to the Dominican Republic, the prosecutor never subpoenaed the witness, sought a material witness order, or even communicated with him prior to his departure. People v Ricart, 2017 NY Slip Op 05922, First Dept 8-1-17
CRIMINAL LAW (SPEEDY TRIAL, THE PEOPLE WERE AWARE OF THEIR WITNESS'S PLANS TO VACATION OUT OF THE COUNTRY, THE WITNESS'S ABSENCE WAS NOT AN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCE JUSTIFYING AN EXCLUSION OF TIME UNDER THE SPEEDY TRIAL STATUTE (FIRST DEPT))/SPEEDY TRIAL (THE PEOPLE WERE AWARE OF THEIR WITNESS'S PLANS TO VACATION OUT OF THE COUNTRY, THE WITNESS'S ABSENCE WAS NOT AN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCE JUSTIFYING AN EXCLUSION OF TIME UNDER THE SPEEDY TRIAL STATUTE (FIRST DEPT))