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District of Columbia v. Cruz

July 10, 2003

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLANT,
v.
CARLOS O. CRUZ, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (T-5687-02) (Hon. Erik P. Christian, Trial Judge)

Before Schwelb, Farrell and Washington, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Washington, Associate Judge

Submitted June 25, 2003

The District of Columbia appeals a decision by the trial court to dismiss a case with prejudice when the District failed to respond to the court's introductory inquiry as to whether the District was ready to proceed with the trial. Concluding that the court abused its discretion in dismissing with prejudice, we reverse.

I.

Carlos O. Cruz was arrested on September 24, 2002 and charged with operating a motor vehicle without a permit, in violation of D.C. Code § 40-301 (d) (1998), currently § 50-1401.01 (d) (2001), and operating a motor vehicle after revocation, in violation of D.C. Code § 40-302 (e) (1998), currently § 50-1403.01 (e) (2001). The trial date was set for November 11, 2002. The entire proceeding on that date consisted of the following:

The Court: Good morning to both of you. This matter is set for trial. Is the government ready? (pause)

The Court: All right. This matter is dismissed.

The Government: Thank you, Your Honor.

Defense Counsel: Thank you, Your Honor.

The Court: with prejudice

The Government: Your Honor, I would object to that. It's my understanding that Court doesn't have authority to dismiss a case -

The Court: You can file whatever ...


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