People v. Farkas (Ct. App. 2/22/2011) (Lippman, C.J.) (7-0) is a run-of-the-mill CPL § 30.30 case. The Defendant was accused of stealing a photographer's camera and punching him in the face. The initial charge, however, was only for Assault 3º and the People stated ready for trial. More than a year alter, the Grand Jury indicted the Defendant for Robbery 1º and related charges. The Court of Appeals held that the theft-rleated charges "directly derived" from the initial accusatory instrument and thus all of the time excludable for the Assault charges would apply to the new charges.
What is interesting about the court's opinion is its use of the phrase "speedy trial." Throughout the opinion, the court refers to CPL § 30.30 as a "speedy trial statute." It is no such thing. CPL § 30.30 does not guarantee that a defendant must be brought to trial within a specified period of time. Instead, it requires that the People state their readiness for trial by a certain date. The rule is directed at the People and does not impose any temporal obligation on a trial court to start a defendant's trial.
CPL § 30.20, not § 30.30, is New York's speedy trial statute. It states only that "the defendant is entitled to a speedy trial." Case law has established factors that courts will look to in deciding whether a trial has been speedily commenced or not.
The distinction is an important one. Once the People declare their readiness, CPL § 30.30 is satisfied (unless they fall back into unreadiness). Thus, in post-readiness, delays attributable to calendar backlog do not lead to dismissal or bail reduction under CPL § 30.30. Rather, court delays implicate the true speedy trial statute, CPL § 30.20, whose "fuzzy" factors test is difficult to satisfy.
The Legislature did not help matters by captioning § 30.30 as "Speedy Trial; Time Limitations," which only contributes to the confusion about this statute. Still, the Court of Appeals has itself noted the distinction between CPL § 30.20 and § 30.30 in various decisions and, thus, I was surprised by the Farkas decision's reference to CPL § 30.30 as a "speedy trial statute." (LC)