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United States v. Martinez

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Northern Division

May 25, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON MARTINEZ, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHARLES B. KORNMANN, United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendant was charged by indictment on January 21, 2016, with the crimes of aggravated sexual abuse, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. He entered an initial appearance on February 4, 2016. The jury trial was initially scheduled for April 12, 2016. On March 30, 2016, the government orally moved for a continuance of the trial. The motion was granted, over the objection of the defendant, on the basis that the interests of justice are served by a continuance to allow the F.B.I, laboratory to complete forensic testing of evidence. The trial was continued to July 12, 2016. Thereafter, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the basis that the defendant was not brought to trial within 70 days as required by the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161.

         DECISION

         I. Speedy Trial Act.

         The Speedy Trial Act requires in this case that the defendant be brought to trial within 70 days after his initial appearance. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). Certain periods of delay are excluded in computing the time within which the defendant must be brought to trial. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h).

Among the statutorily approved reasons for days to be excluded from the speedy-trial calculation is an "ends-of-justice" continuance: A trial may be delayed if a district court finds the ends of justice so require and "sets forth, in the record of the case, either orally or in writing, its reasons for finding that the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial." 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A).

United States v. Adejumo, 772 F.3d 513, 521 (8th Cir. 2014). A defendant's consent is not required for the court to make a finding that the ends of justice are served by a continuance. United States v. Jones, 795 F.3d 791, 798 (8th Cir. 2015). The Speedy Trial Act prohibits an ends of justice continuance solely "because of... lack of diligent preparation ... on the part of the attorney for the Government. § 3161(h)(7)(C)." United States v. Villarreal, 707 F.3d 942, 953 (8th Cir. 2013). "A defendant has the burden of proof to show that his statutory right to a speedy trial has been violated." United States v. Williams, 557 F.3d 943, 950 (8th Cir. 2009).

         The alleged offenses in this case occurred on December 9, 2015. Over 60 pieces of evidence, including a wet mop that may have been used to mop up blood from the floor, were collected on December 9 and 10. The mop head had to be dried consistent with F.B.I, protocol prior to shipping the evidence for testing. On December 28, 2015, the evidence was sent to the Minneapolis F.B.I, office. On January 4, 2016, the items reached Minneapolis. They were mailed to the F.B.I. Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, on January 6, 2016.

         According to the prosecutor, the F.B.I. Laboratory conducts analysis of evidence in a specific order so as not to lose any evidence. Trace evidence is tested first and usually takes 30 days to conduct. DNA evidence is next tested and usually takes 60 days to conduct. Testing for latent prints and shoe prints are conducted after DNA testing. According to the prosecutor, shoe print testing takes 180 days to conduct.

         This case was assigned to the Honorable Roberto Lange at the time of the hearing on the motion to continue. Judge Lange held that the government "has acted expeditiously in collecting the evidence - and once the mop head was dried out - sending it on to the FBI office and in turn to the lab." Judge Lange concluded that "the ends of justice are served by allowing the analysis of the evidence to be completed ... a continuance of the trial by a period of... 90 day[s]... would serve the public interest in actually allowing analysis of the evidence to determine ... if there is evidence of the defendant's guilt or evidence that exculpates the defendant."

         The record in this case supports a finding that the delay in testing was not "unreasonable or indicative of a lack of diligence." See United States v. Villarreal, 707 F.3d at 954. I find that the period of delay caused by the government's motion to continue is excluded from computing the time within which the trial in this case must commence and that the defendant's statutory right to a more speedy trial was not violated.

         II. Constitutional Right to a Speedy Trial.

         The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an accused the right to a speedy trial. The United States Supreme Court has identified four factors the lower courts should assess and balance in determining whether a particular defendant has been deprived of his speedy trial right: "Length of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant's assertion of his right, and ...


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