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The PEOPLE of the State of New York v. Adonis CABRERA, Defendant
On August 2, 2021, pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law (C.P.L.) Section 245.50(1), the defendant moved to challenge the People's February 24, 2020 certificate of compliance and statement of readiness, and to dismiss the indictment pursuant to C.P.L. § 30.30. The People opposed the motion on September 12, 2021. The defendant filed a sur reply on September 27, 2021, and, on December 1, 2021, filed an amended motion. Based upon a review of the Supreme Court file, relevant transcripts, and the papers filed by the parties, the motion is denied.
This action commenced on September 20, 2018, when the defendant was charged with Attempted Rape in the First Degree, and related offenses, for allegedly following a woman from the subway to her place of business, where, once there, he threw her up against the wall, put his hand over her mouth, exposed his penis, grabbed her breasts, tried to pull her pants down, all while stating “you know what I want.” As the six-month period in which the People are required to be ready for trial is measured by the number of days in the intervening calendar months, the People here are allotted 181 days to be ready for trial (See People v. Cortes, 80 N.Y.2d 201, 590 N.Y.S.2d 9, 604 N.E.2d 71 ). This Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Calculation of Speedy Trial Time
September 20, 2018 to November 9, 2018 to November 28, 2018
The defendant was arraigned on the felony complaint in Criminal Court on September 20, 2018. On November 9, 2018, the People filed the indictment and a statement of readiness. The case was subsequently adjourned to November 28, 2018 for Supreme Court arraignment. The People concede that the time period from September 20, 2018 to November 9, 2018, is charged to the People.1
November 28, 2018 to January 29, 2019 to March 21, 2019 to May 16, 2019
On November 28, 2018, the defendant was arraigned in Supreme Court. The case was adjourned to January 29, 2019 for open file discovery and grand jury minutes.
The grand jury minutes were not yet available on January 29, 2019, and the case was adjourned to March 21, 2019 for them.
On March 21, 2019, the grand jury minutes were provided to the TAP Part for review, and the case was adjourned to May 16, 2019 for decision. The defendant does not contest this time period - it is excluded (See People v. Codrington, 222 A.D.2d 692, 637 N.Y.S.2d 164 [2d Dept. 1995]; People v. Harris, 82 N.Y.2d 409, 604 N.Y.S.2d 918, 624 N.E.2d 1013 ).
May 16, 2019 to December 11, 2019
On May 16, 2019, the TAP Part issued a decision finding the grand jury minutes sufficient. The case was adjourned several times between June 19, 2019 and December 11, 2019 for discovery. These adjournments, all for discovery, are excluded (see People v. Ocasio, 39 Misc, 3d 465, 959 N.Y.S.2d 898; People v. Holden, 260 A.D.2d 233, 689 N.Y.S.2d 40 [1st Dept. 1999]; People v. Anderson, 66 N.Y.2d 529, 498 N.Y.S.2d 119, 488 N.E.2d 1231 ).2
December 11, 2019 to January 29, 2020
On December 11, 2019, the case was adjourned to January 29, 2020 for additional discovery.
On January 1, 2020, sweeping discovery reforms went into effect, repealing C.P.L. Article 240 and replacing it with an entirely new Article — C.P.L. § 245. Under the newly enacted statute, the People cannot be deemed ready for trial until they file a certificate of compliance and statement of readiness. Although courts have wrestled with whether the People are entitled to a reasonable period of time to certify compliance under the new law (see People v. Nge, 67 Misc. 3d 650, 123 N.Y.S.3d 449 [Crim. Ct. Kings County 2020]; People v. Roland, 67 Misc. 3d 330, 121 N.Y.S.3d 550 [Crim. Ct. Kings County 2020]; People v. Adrovic, 69 Misc. 3d 563, 130 N.Y.S.3d 614 [Crim. Ct. New York County 2020]; People v. Dobrzenski, 69 Misc. 3d 333, 130 N.Y.S.3d 238 [City Court, New York, Oneida County 2020]; People v. Napolitano, 67 Misc. 3d 1241(A), 2020 WL 3967709 [Supreme Court, New York County 2020]; but see People ex rel. Ferro v. Brann, 197 A.D.3d 787, 153 N.Y.S.3d 194, 2021 NY Slip Op. 04897 ), here, where the People failed to supply discovery from May 16, 2019 to January 29, 2020, despite repeated requests, including the failure to turn over surveillance video that was introduced at the grand jury proceeding months earlier, and where they have provided no reason for said prolonged delay, an exclusion cannot be countenanced. The People, therefore, are charged with the time period from January 1, 2020 to January 29, 2020.
January 29, 2020 to February 18, 2020
On January 29, 2020, the case was on for the People to complete discovery. The People had not yet certified compliance under the new law, and the case was adjourned to February 18, 2020. This time period is charged to the People.
February 18, 2020 to March 11, 2020
On February 18, 2020, the case was on again to complete discovery and for the People to file a certificate of compliance. The People stated that some materials were still outstanding, and the case was adjourned to March 11, 2020 for the People's certificate of compliance.
Off calendar, on February 24, 2020, the People served and filed a certificate of compliance, including a new statement of readiness. The time period from February 18, 2020 to February 24, 2020, is charged to the People.
March 11, 2020 to March 25, 2020 to July 17, 2020 to November 10, 2020
On March 11, 2020, the defendant requested March 25, 2020 to file a motion challenging the People's certificate of compliance. As this adjournment was made at the defendant's request for motion practice, this time period is excluded (see People v. Kopciowski 68 N.Y.2d 615, 505 N.Y.S.2d 52, 496 N.E.2d 211 ; People v. Codrington, 222 A.D.2d 692, 637 N.Y.S.2d 164 [2d Dept. 1995]).
On March 20, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, then Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order Number 202.8 tolling the provisions of C.P.L. § 30.30 through April 19, 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, successive Executive Orders extended those tolling provisions through October 19, 2020.3 Thereafter, the case was administratively adjourned to November 10, 2020, also due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As such, this period, is excluded (see People v. Goss, 87 N.Y.2d 792, 642 N.Y.S.2d 607, 665 N.E.2d 177 ).
November 10, 2020 to February 16, 2021
On November 10, 2020, the case was adjourned to February 16, 2021, on consent, for possible disposition. The defendant does not contest this time period.
February 16, 2021 to May 20, 2021 to June 14, 2021 to June 28, 2021
On February 16, 2021, the TAP Part inquired as to whether the defendant intended to file a challenge to the People's February 24, 2020 certificate of compliance. The defendant stated, “I am not asking for a motion schedule because I have no specific documents, I can verify that I am missing.” The defendant stated he was not interested in any disposition and requested a Huntley/Dunaway/Mapp hearing. The case was adjourned to May 20, 2021 to set a hearing and trial date.4 In the interim, the case was administratively adjourned from the Tap Part to this Part for June 14, 2021. As the case was adjourned to set a trial date, was administratively adjourned between Parts, and the pandemic was still shuttering in-person courtroom proceedings, this time period is excluded (see People v. Goss, 87 N.Y.2d 792, 642 N.Y.S.2d 607, 665 N.E.2d 177 ; see also People v. Robinson, 225 A.D.2d 407, 640 N.Y.S.2d 496 [1st Dept., 1996], lv denied 88 N.Y.2d 884, 645 N.Y.S.2d 458, 668 N.E.2d 429).
On June 14, 2021, the case was before this Court for the first time. Defense counsel filed an affirmation of engagement and the case was adjourned to June 28, 2021.
June 28, 2021 to August 2, 2021 to September 8, 2021 to October 19, 2021 to November 18, 2021 to December 2, 2021 to December 17, 2021 to January 5, 2022 to January 28, 2022
On June 28, 2021, the defendant requested a motion schedule to file the instant motion.5 A motion schedule was set -- the defendant filed his motion, the People responded, and the defendant filed a sur reply. The case was adjourned to October 19, 2021 for decision on the motion. On October 19, 2021, the Court was in the midst of reviewing the voluminous submissions by the parties and the case was adjourned to November 18, 2021 for decision. On November 18, 2021, the Court, having myriad questions about the parties’ submissions, held a discovery conference pursuant to C.P.L. § 245.35(2). In response to the Court's inquiries regarding the defendant's request for several items of discovery, items of which this Court was entirely unfamiliar, defense counsel replied, “I don't have the ability to answer [your] question[s]”, “I don't know what that is” [inter alia]. As a result, defense counsel requested time to file an amended motion addressing the Court's questions and the case was adjourned to December 2, 2021 for that amended motion. The People filed their reply on January 5, 2022 and the matter was adjourned to January 28, 2022 for decision. This time period, from June 28, 2021 through January 28, 2022, occasioned by the defendant's motion, is excluded (See People v. Kanter, 173 A.D.2d 560, 569 N.Y.S.2d 980 (2d Dept. 1991); People v. Brown, 136 A.D.2d 715, 523 N.Y.S.2d 911 [2d Dept. 1988]).
Certificate of Compliance
The defendant argues that the People's February 24, 2020 certificate of compliance is invalid. To begin, the People provided discovery to the defendant on June 19, 2019, October 1, 2019, January 29, 2020, February 10, 2020, February 11, 2020, and February 19, 2020. Notwithstanding, by motion dated August 2, 2021, the defendant indicated that he was still missing certain discoverable items. Among the missing items were “a FETI interview and cognitive reenactment, all videos and notes taken in relation to said FETI interview, copies of any policy or procedure guides for FETI interviewing and cognitive reenactments, Blue DD5s, court attendance records, command log, I-Cad event information, housing report No.5814, prisoner holding pen roster, interrupted patrol log,” and dozens and dozens of other items, many of which were either unfamiliar to the Court or seemingly had no relationship to the case.
In an effort to understand the discovery concerns raised by the defendant, on November 18, 2021, the Court, as stated above, attempted to determine what, if any, discovery remained outstanding (see C.P.L. § 245.35). As the defendant was unable to provide any substantive answers to the Court's inquiries, he requested an opportunity to review his motion and file an amended motion, which he did on December 1, 2021. In his amended motion, defendant asserts that he is only missing: (1) 911 calls and radio runs from September 16, 2018; (2) memo books from Officers Albert, Walker, Guess, Hughes and Tsourovakas; and, (3) a substantiated CCRB complaint from 1994 against Detective Niurca Quinones, the detective in this case.
The People state that 911 calls and radio runs from September 16, 2018 were erased by the time they were requested, and they acknowledged as much prior to filing their certificate of compliance on February 24, 2020. Sprint reports for these calls, however, were turned over to the defendant on February 11, 2020. Defendant now argues that the People's failure to obtain these items renders their certificate of compliance invalid, thereby mandating dismissal of the indictment pursuant to C.P.L. § 30.30. Not so. To be clear, C.P.L. § 245 allows the People to file a valid certificate of compliance even where discovery items are lost or destroyed and, an appropriate remedy or sanction regarding any such missing or destroyed discovery items may be sought by the defendant at the appropriate time.6
As for defendant's concerns that he may be missing memo books for Police Officers Albert, Walker, Guess, and Hughes, said memo books do not exist. As the People explained, all of these “white shield” investigators were awaiting their “gold shield” promotions to Detective at the time of the incident, and as such, were not required to record memo book entries.
With respect to Police Officer Tsourovakas, he was assigned to The Office of the Deputy Commissioner at the time of this incident, in an administrative role, and as such, he too, was not required to record memo book entries.
1994 Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) Disclosure
With respect to Detective Nuirca Quinones, the People, on October 1, 2019, provided the defendant with an extensive Brady disclosure letter and, in an effort to resolve all outstanding discovery, disclosed five unsubstantiated allegations of police misconduct related to Detective Quinones.7 So, too, the People turned over additional and extensive Giglio disclosures pursuant to CPL 245.20(1)(k) on February 19, 2020 and January 14, 2022, which included information pertaining to nineteen police officers. Notwithstanding, the defendant claims that the failure to turn over a single 27 plus-year-old 1994 substantiated CCRB discourtesy complaint, of which the People were not in possession at the time they certified compliance despite having requested all such records, renders the People's certificate of compliance invalid, mandating dismissal of the indictment. Not so. That the People belatedly disclosed a 27 plus-year-old complaint regarding a discourtesy by Detective Quinones, does not, in and of itself, render their compliance invalid.
Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that the certificate of compliance filed in this matter is valid.
The certificate of compliance filed on February 24, 2020 is valid, and the People are charged with 104 days.
The People have agreed to provide the defendant with color copies of all photographs as requested.
Based on the foregoing, the defendant's motion is denied in its entirety.
This constitutes the Decision and Order of the Court.
1. Defense counsel agrees, but incorrectly calculates this time period as 51 days.
2. Discovery in this case was particularly voluminous.
3. Current retained defense counsel first entered the case, virtually, on July 17, 2020.
4. The case was adjourned to set a trial date as opposed to adjourning it for trial as, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the courthouse was not yet fully functional.
5. As stated above, on February 26, 2021, when asked by the TAP Judge whether the defendant intended to file a challenge to the certificate of compliance, the defendant indicated he did not, as he could not “verify that [any items] were missing.”
6. Defendant's reliance on People v. Ryklin, 72 Misc. 3d 1208(A), 2021 N.Y. Slip. Op. 50678(U), 2021 WL 3085880 (Sup. Ct., Kings County 2021) is misplaced. In Ryklin, the People filed their certificate of compliance claiming they believed there were no 911 calls, which was contradicted by their own paperwork generated at the time of the defendant's arrest, a very different factual scenario than in the instant case.
7. Whether the People had to turn over these items remains unclear - courts have been exploring whether unsubstantiated allegations of police misconduct are discoverable under the new statute (See People v. Smith, 1866/2019 [unreported] [Kings Sup. 2021]; People v. Altug, CR-009552-20NY, 2021 WL 728654 [unreported] [N.Y. Crim. Ct. 2021]; People v. Green, 1709/2019 [unreported] [Bronx Sup. 2021]; People v. Akhlaq, 71 Misc. 3d 823, 144 N.Y.S.3d 835 [Kings Sup. 2021]; People v. Randolph, 69 Misc. 3d 770, 132 N.Y.S.3d 726 [Suffolk Sup. 2020]; People v. Gonzalez, 68 Misc.3d1213[A], 2020 WL 4873901 [Kings Sup. 2020]; People v. Knight, 69 Misc. 3d 546, 130 N.Y.S.3d 919 [Kings Sup. 2020]; People v. Davis, 70 Misc. 3d 467, 134 N.Y.S.3d 620 [Bronx Crim. Ct. 2020]; People v. Suprenant, 69 Misc. 3d 685, 130 N.Y.S.3d 633 [Glens Falls City Ct. 2020]), and the law with respect to whether unsubstantiated allegations of police misconduct fall under the C.P.L. § 245.20(1)(k)(iv) umbrella remains unsettled.
Jill Konviser, J.
Response sent, thank you
Docket No: Ind. No. 7441/18
Decided: January 28, 2022
Court: Supreme Court, Kings County, New York.
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