Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Speedy Trial Win

United States v. Tinklenberg, Nos. 06–2646 and 08–1765 (6th Cir. 2009). Panel of Judges Keith, Clay, and Gibbons. In an opinion that addresses issues of first impression for the court, the panel dismissed the defendant’s case with prejudice.


* It is the date the defendant appears and not the date of the defendant’s not-guilty plea that starts the speedy-trial clock.

* The plain language of the Speedy Trial Act mandates excluding from the speedy-trial calculation the days on which motions are filed and resolved. This decision is in keeping with the conclusions of other courts of appeals.

* The duration of competency evaluations are not limited under the Speedy Trial Act, but delay in transporting a defendant to such an evaluation beyond ten days is presumptively unreasonable, and if no evidence in rebuttal is presented to explain the delay, the extra time is not excluded.

* Pre-trial motions are not excluded unless they cause an actual delay (or the expectation of delay) of trial. This holding breaks with the conclusions of other courts of appeals. The court concluded that "[e]xcluding time for mundane pretrial motions to allow a gun into the courtroom as evidence and depose a witness by video would frustrate the purpose of the Speedy Trial Act.


* 73 non-excludable days elapsed prior to the defendant’s trial.

* The Speedy Trial Act was violated.

* Dismissal with prejudice was warranted. The defendant’s offense was serious and there was no evidence that the delay was in bad faith and only three days had elapsed to exceed the limit. But re-prosecution would not serve justice because the defendant had already served his sentence and a sentence for violating supervised release.

Judge Gibbons's Concurrence:

* She does not agree that delays in transporting a defendant for a competency evaluation should be counted in the speedy-trial calculus. She believes that 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)(A) (relating to competency evaluations) is specific and should not be qualified by what she feels are the more general dictates of § 3161(h)(1)(F) (relating to transportation to examinations).

* She still calculates the passage of 71 non-excludable days and would dismiss with prejudice.

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