The simple fact is, a motorist charged with a New York traffic violation has no statutory right to a speedy trial. The denial of a statutory right to a speedy trial in a New York traffic violation case is yet another example of the New York Judiciary completely disregarding the laws duly enacted by the Legislature and imposing their own will. It is yet another example of what I consistently refer to as judicial supremacy as opposed to judicial oversight. Such rulings by the courts quite simply amount to a judicial hijacking of the legislative role thus destroying the separation of powers.
A review of the relevant laws reveals that the Courts’ denial of speedy trial rights in traffic violation cases (as well as the denial of other rights in traffic violation cases) is completely contrary to the clear and unambiguous wording of the laws; laws that the judiciary is constitutionally obligated to enforce and carryout whether they agree with them or not.
First of all, the New York State Legislature has determined that, with some exceptions, traffic “violations shall be deemed as misdemeanors and all provisions of law relating to misdemeanors . . . shall apply except that no jury trial shall be allowed for traffic infractions.” See VTL § 155. Therefore, if the Legislature has determined that traffic violations are to be treated procedurally as misdemeanors, under what possible theory could the speedy trial statutes not apply? See for example People v. Solomon, 1984, 124 Misc.2d 33, 475 N.Y.S.2d 749 (1984) where the court held that the right to speedy trial does not attach to actions commenced for traffic violations. See also People v. Howell, 158 Misc.2d 653, 601 N.Y.S.2d 778(1993)(Speedy trial statute applies only to felonies, misdemeanors, and violations, and “violation” is specifically defined to exclude traffic infractions.)
Under what possible theory of statutory construction could the Solomon court have concluded that statutory speedy trial rights do not apply to traffic violations in light of the clear wording of VTL § 155 which states that traffic violations shall be treated as misdemeanors?
In fact, NY CPL 30.30(1)(d) states that when a defendant is charged with a violation, the People must be ready within 30 days of the commencement of the criminal action. However, the courts have literally hijacked the legislative authority by ruling that the speedy trial provisions found in CPL 30.30 don’t apply to traffic infractions. If you are charged with a traffic violation in New York and more than two years have passed since the time you received the ticket and the time your trial is scheduled, contact Tilem & Campbell because while you may not have a statutory right to a speedy trial on a traffic violation case, you do have a constitutional speedy trial right which usually takes effect at about two years. In a future blog I will discuss the constitutional speedy trial right you have when charged with a traffic violation.