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Law School Case Brief

People ex rel. Maxian v. Brown - 77 N.Y.2d 422, 568 N.Y.S.2d 575, 570 N.E.2d 223 (1991)

Rule:

N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 140.20(1) requires that upon arresting a person without a warrant, a police officer, after performing without unnecessary delay all recording, fingerprinting and other preliminary police duties required in the particular case, must without unnecessary delay bring the arrested person or cause him to be brought before a local criminal court and file therewith an appropriate accusatory instrument charging him with the offense or offenses in question. The statute requires that a pre-arraignment detention not be prolonged beyond a time reasonably necessary to accomplish the tasks required to bring an arrestee to arraignment.

Facts:

In January 1990, respondent, the Legal Aid Society, filed various habeas corpus proceedings with the trial court against the New York City Police and Correction Commissioners on behalf of arrestees who remained in pre-arraignment custody in excess of 24 hours, claiming that the period of time between arrestees' warrantless arrests and arraignment was unreasonable. The trial court granted the petitions to the extent that arrestees held in custody for more than 24 hours without arraignment were entitled to release unless an acceptable explanation for the delay was given. The lower appellate court affirmed, holding that a delay was presumptively unnecessary and, unless explained, constituted a violation of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 140.20(1). The lower appellate court then granted appellant police department leave to appeal to the court. 

Issue:

Were arrestees held in custody for more than 24 hours without arraignment entitled to release?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the decision of the lower appellate court, stating that N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 140.20(1) required that upon arresting a person without a warrant, a police officer, after performing without unnecessary delay preliminary police duties related to the arrest, was without unnecessary delay to bring the defendant to be arraigned. According to the Court, the steps leading up to arraignment generally could be accomplished within 24 hours after arrest and the delays in defendants' proceedings were unnecessary within the meaning of N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 140.20(1).

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