Does the Defendant Have the Right to Know the People's Readiness for Trial ?
According to People v. Kendzia (64 N.Y.2d 331), ready for trial within the meaning of CPL 30.30 encompasses two necessary elements.
First, there must be a communication of readiness by the People which appears on the trial court's record. This requires either a statement of readiness by the prosecutor in open court transcribed by the stenographer, or recorded by the clerk, or a written notice of readiness sent by the prosecutor to both defense counsel and the court clerk, to be placed in the original record.
Second, the prosecutor must make his statement of readiness when the People are in fact ready to proceed.
In People v. Zhu (171 Misc. 2d 298 [Sup Ct, Kings County 1997], the People conceded that they sent the statement to the wrong attorney even though they were given notice that the defendant's private counselor had replaced his original attorney from the Legal Aid Society.
The People in that case made the same argument that is made by the People in the case at bar.
They argued that substantial compliance with the requirements as set forth in Kendzia is sufficient, considering that the People acted in good faith in attempting to notify counsel which excuses their office failure, and that no actual prejudice was suffered by the defendant.
This court finds no merit in this argument.
This court finds that the fact that the People acted in good faith is irrelevant under these circumstances. What is relevant is that the People have an obligation to inform the correct defense attorney that they have made a declaration that they are ready for trial.
The defendant has a right to know when the People have made a statement of trial readiness, so that the defendant understands when he has to be ready for trial, and so he can prepare his case accordingly. the defendant should not suffer because the People's mistake was made in "good faith."
The People's argument that the defendant did not suffer any prejudice is also without merit.
The fact that the defendant never received word that the People were ready until the next court date without question results in prejudice to the defendant.
The defendant has a right to know when the People have made a declaration of readiness.