There is no doubt that the Corona Virus Pandemic has disrupted every aspect of New York life. This is especially true for New York lawyers practicing in New York Criminal Courts. With New York Courts closed except for essential matters, New York criminal lawyers and their clients find themselves having to navigate a whole new landscape that is having a major impact on criminal clients.
Consider just a few facts: New York Criminal Cases are often being adjourned into June or even July from March or April. What about the constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial? Under New York CPL 30.30 (1)(b), A prosecutor must be ready for trial within 90 days of the commencement of a criminal case where a client is charged with an “A” misdemeanor. Which means that many clients should be getting their cases dismissed when the Courts reopen. However, CPL 30.30 (4)(g), excludes from the 90 calculation periods of delay caused by “exceptional circumstances”. While I know of no Court that has ruled on this issue yet, I do not think it will be too long before Courts rule that all of the time occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic will be excluded under that section. This may raise many issues for clients.
What about the DWI client that was arraigned on a DWI in February and had their license suspended pending prosecution under New York law. We got her a hardship license so that she could drive to and from work but the client lost her job and so is not permitted to drive and her case has already been adjourned until June at the earliest. Four months after the arraignment.