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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one today, on speedy trial

In USA v. Jackie Richardson (SD Ind., Pratt), a 25-page, with J.Posner writing for the majority, and J.Hamilton, starting on p. 13 of 25, concurring. Posner:

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy … trial.” The brevity of the provision is striking. There is no quantification of “speedy” and no specification of when in the course of a criminal investigation or prosecution the speedy-trial clock begins to tick. But the Supreme Court has held that it does not begin to tick “before a defendant is indicted, arrested, or otherwise officially accused.” United States v. MacDonald, 456 U.S. 1, 6 (1982). To the same effect see United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 313 (1971), and United States v. Loud Hawk, 474 U.S. 302, 310 (1986). The question presented by this appeal is whether or in what circumstances the clock begins to tick when a federal complaint and detainer are served on a person who is being prosecuted by a state. * * *

All this said, we acknowledge that the extreme vagueness of the speedy-trial clause of the Sixth Amendment, and the limited clarification of it that has been attempted by the Supreme Court, open up a potential for prejudice to a defendant caught between two sovereigns.

The district judge was right to deny the motion to dismiss the federal prosecution. AFFIRMED.

HAMILTON, Circuit Judge, concurring in the judgment. I agree with my colleagues that defendant Jackie Richardson’s speedy trial right under the Sixth Amendment was not violated here. I would follow a much narrower path to that conclusion, however, to stay more consistent with Supreme Court precedent and to preserve the ability to deter or prevent unduly prejudicial delay in future cases. * * *

The better solution is to recognize that a federal complaint and arrest warrant filed under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 3 and 4 add up to an “official accusation” of a crime that starts the Sixth Amendment speedy trial clock, at least where the suspect is in state custody and subject to a federal detainer. Richardson has not established a violation of his speedy trial right, but we should not foreclose the possibility that another defendant could.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 12, 2015 07:45 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions