People v. McKenna – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In People v. McKenna (76 NY2d 59, 555 N.E.2d 911, 556 NYS2d 514 [1990], the defendant filed an omnibus motion on August 1, 1985, which included a request for court inspection of the grand jury minutes. The People filed a written response but did not supply the grand jury minutes to the court until January 3, 1986.

The court charged the People with the entire period of delay from defendant's motion to delivery of the grand jury minutes to the court, holding that the "concededly negligent failure to provide the grand jury minutes for five months after the statement of readiness was made mandates dismissal of the indictment" (Id., 76 NY2d at 64, 556 NYS2d at 516).

In People v. McKenna, the People's failure to provide the trial court with the grand jury minutes that were necessary for determination of defendant's motion to dismiss for legal insufficiency was a direct impediment to the commencement of trial.

In McKenna, the Court of Appeals held that:

"because the trial could simply not go forward until the CPL 210.30 motion was decided, the People's dilatory conduct in failing to provide the minutes necessary to that decision was a direct, and virtually insurmountable, impediment to the trial's very commencement . . .

"As such, the prosecutorial failure here must be deemed to be one having a direct bearing on the People's readiness, since the People can hardly claim to be 'ready' when they have not done all that is required of them to bring the case to the point where it may be tried." (Id. at 64)