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United States v. Myers

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

June 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER MYERS, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: RENEWED MOTION TO DISMISS

          JUSTIN L. QUACKENBUSH SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT was Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 55). The court did not require the Government to respond. Testimony of the Defendant and oral argument was heard on June 2, 2017. Defendant was present and in custody, represented by Colin Prince of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Van Marter. This Order memorializes and supplements the court's oral rulings.

         I. Introduction/Summary of the Case

         A detailed procedural summary of both the state and federal proceedings up to December 7, 2016, was set forth in the Order re: Motion to Dismiss. See (ECF No. 32). Those facts are not repeated herein, but are incorporated by reference to the prior Order. Additional relevant facts occurring after the December 7, 2016 hearing are set forth below.

         On January 18, 2017, Defendant pled guilty to two counts of Second Degree Assault in the Spokane County case and was sentenced to 63 months incarceration. This came after 12 continuances in the state case.

         On February 17, 2017, at the Government's request, a Writ of Habeas Corpus ad Prosequendum was issued in this federal case. (ECF No. 35). On March 8, 2017, Defendant was arraigned. (ECF No. 44). On the same day, this court issued a Scheduling Order setting trial for May 15, 2017. (ECF No. 45).

         On April 28, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Continue (ECF No. 49). On May 5, 2017, the court granted the Motion and set trial for June 12, 2017. (ECF No. 54).

         On May 22, 2017, Defendant filed the Renewed Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 55), seeking an evidentiary hearing to allow Defendant the opportunity to testify “regarding the prejudicial effects of the delay and to perfect the appellate record.” (ECF No. 55 at 2). The court allowed Defendant to testify at the hearing.

         II. Discussion

         “[T]he right to a speedy trial is as fundamental as any of the rights secured by the Sixth Amendment.” Kloper v. State of N.C. , 386 U.S. 213, 223 (1967). However, “[t]he right to a speedy trial is generically different from any of the other rights enshrined in the Constitution for the protection of the accused.” Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 519 (1972). These differences include: (1) the “societal interest in providing a speedy trial which exists separate from, and at times in opposition to, the interests of the accused”; (2) “deprivation of the right [to a speedy trial] may work to the accused's advantage”; and (3) “the right to speedy trial is a more vague concept than other procedural rights.” (Id. at 519-21).

         To determine whether a violation of the speedy trial right occurred, the Supreme Court adopted a balancing test which courts must use “on an ad hoc basis.” (Id. at 529-30). Because of the nature of the right, the Supreme Court “can do little more than identify some of the factors which courts should assess in determining whether a particular defendant has been deprived of his right.” (Id. at 530). Those factors are: (1) the length of delay; (2) the reason for delay; (3) defendant's assertion of their speedy trial rights; and (4) prejudice to the defendant. (Id.). None of these factors are “either a necessary or sufficient condition to the finding of a deprivation of the right of speedy trial” and must be considered “together with such other circumstances as may be relevant.” (Id. at 533). The Supreme Court also noted “[t]he amorphous quality of the right also leads to the unsatisfactorily severe remedy of dismissal of the indictment when the right has been deprived. This is indeed a serious consequence because it means that a defendant who may be guilty of a serious crime will go free, without having been tried.” (Id. at 522).

         Despite the court previously finding it did not apply to Defendant as a pretrial detainee, the Government again argued the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act's anti-shuttling provision prohibited the Government from obtaining Defendant and sending him back to state custody while the state proceeding was ongoing. The Government's position was not well founded. The Act applies “[w]henever a person has entered upon a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution.” 18 U.S.C. App. 2 § 2, Art. III(a) (emphasis added). There are legitimate concerns about the practical impact of shuttling a defendant back and forth for ongoing proceedings in state and federal court. However, the Act had no bearing in this matter until the point in time Defendant was subject to a term of incarceration on the state charge. Accordingly, the court rejects any argument by the Government that the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act applied or could have applied to Defendant prior to January 18, 2017, when he was sentenced on the state charges.

         A. Length of Delay

         The Ninth Circuit has noted “[a]lthough there is no bright-line rule, courts generally have found that delays approaching one year are presumptively prejudicial.” U.S. v. Gregory, 322 F.3d 1157, 1161-62 (9th Cir. 2003); see Doggett v. U.S., 505 U.S. 647, 652 n.1 (1992) (same). The delay is measured from “the time of the indictment to the time of trial.” Gregory, 322 F.3d at 1161-62 (quoting U.S. v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., Inc., 877 F.2d 734, 739 (9th Cir. 1989)). If a defendant shows the delay has been long enough to be “presumptively prejudicial, ” “the court must then consider, as one factor among several, the extent to which the delay stretches beyond the bare minimum needed to trigger judicial examination of the claim.” Doggett, 505 U.S. at 652. “[N]o showing of prejudice is required when the delay is great and attributable to the government.” ...


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