New York State Criminal Procedure Law section 710.30 - Interpretation

In People v. O'Doherty, (70 N.Y.2d 479, 517 N.E.2d 213, 522 N.Y.S.2d 498 [1987), the Court of Appeals reviewed the history of New York State Criminal Procedure Law section 710.30, noting in particular that the statute originally required the giving of notice by the People "within a reasonable time before the commencement of the trial" (at 485) and there after was amended by the Legislature specifically to substitute the present language, requiring the giving of notice "within fifteen days after arraignment" (at 487). As held by Chief Judge Wachtler in O'Doherty, 70 N.Y.2d at 487-488: "The People argue . . . that the delay should be excused because it resulted in no harm to the defendant . . . [N]otice was given far in advance of trial. Thus, they contend, the purpose of the statute, which they identify as giv[ing] a defendant adequate time to prepare his case for questioning the voluntariness of a confession or an admission' has not been frustrated because the defendant was not prejudiced by the delay. This position finds support in a number of decisions . . . These decisions evince an understandable reluctance to deprive the People of useful evidence for failure to comply with a stringent statutory requirement, especially where defendant is not harmed by the omission. Although we fully understand the sentiment, we believe that these decisions conflict with the plain language of the statute, which reflects a legislative policy determination with which the courts may not interfere . . . " That the People have only 15 days after arraignment to comply does not change the plain meaning of the statutory language . . . Thus, acceptance of the argument advanced by the People would require that permission to serve late notices be granted routinely. Such an approach would effectively abrogate the 15-day requirement and invite a return to the practice of giving notice at a much later date, even on the eve of trial. Such a result was not the Legislature's intention."