In an interesting twist of events, a case for drunk driving and speeding was dismissed because the plaintiff did not have a speedy trial. While it may sound like fun, it was not funny at all for the defendant, aged 65, whose case had been dragging on for more than two years, at least two dozen court appearances, and while on 14 trial dates prosecutors pleaded that they were not ready.
Most charges against Teresa Perkins, who was charged with driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest, reckless driving and other related statutory offenses, were dropped earlier in March by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael Gerstein, who did not dismiss two traffic infractions.
However, the remaining charges were dismissed by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Curtis Faber, who noted that even after Gerstein had dismissed the other charges for violating the defendant’s right to a speedy trial, prosecutors continued to delay and at least on four dates submitted they were not ready. While dismissing the charges, Farber observed, “This defendant, facing the least serious level of offense, continues to await trial two years after the date of her arrest.”
Legal Aid Society attorney Bahar Ansari, the defense lawyer of Perkins said that the case was an example of the manner in which even simple matters moved in the criminal court. She said, “It’s emotionally and physically exhausting” for defendants.
During the judgment, Farber also noted that New York’s speedy trial statute does not provide a time frame for traffic infractions, the way it does for felonies, misdemeanors and violations, and “appears to be a legislative oversight.”
Though he did not opine whether the 90-day speedy trial period should apply on Perkins’ traffic infractions, he wrote, “Recognizing that traffic infractions, more than any other kind of offense, are expected to be disposed of summarily, it can hardly be said that this two year prosecution, with over 25 court appearances, constitutes a summary proceeding.”