Monday, April 20, 2015

Speedy Trial Act Victory for Defendant

U.S. v. Hicks, 2015 WL 968423 (3/6/15) (Col.) (Published) - A Speedy Trial Act defense victory. After the district court ruled on all pretrial motions, the government filed a motion for a conference to set a trial date. The district court did not rule on that motion for almost two months. It then set the conference for two months later. The 10th holds that only 30 days were excludable due to the government's motion, which was a pro forma or administrative motion, because a hearing was not necessary to decide the motion. The motion was "under advisement" when it was filed. It only required a simple administrative act, regardless of how complicated the matters would be at the conference, especially since the defense had agreed with everything asserted in the motion at a prior hearing.

On the other hand, Mr. Hicks's constitutional speedy trial rights were not violated. (1) The length of the delay, five and a half years favored Mr. Hicks, but all the other Barker v. Wingo factors weighed against him. (2) He was responsible for much of the delay since he filed more than 40 "unique" motions, including several for extensions of deadlines and for a delay until his state prosecution was concluded. The government's part of the delay resulted from relatively benign reasons of negligence and a crowded court docket. (3) Mr. Hicks first asserted his rights near the beginning of the proceedings, but did not renew that claim until more than 3 years later. He asked for many continuances and didn't oppose most of the government's continuance requests. So the assertion factor did not favor Mr. Hicks. (4) As for the prejudice factor, a six year delay might lead to a presumption of prejudice, but only if all of that delay was solely attributable to the government. Here Mr. Hicks was responsible for much of the delay. He couldn't complain about oppressive pretrial incarceration because he was also being held on charges pending in state court. He showed no special harm from anxiety. He didn't specify what evidence he lost due to the delay. So no prejudice was shown that the 10th is willing to recognize. On balance no constitutional violation.