United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Northern Division
CHARLES B. KORNMANN United States District Judge.
are charged with first degree murder, second degree murder,
assault resulting in serious bodily injury, and child abuse
in connection with the death of defendant Makes Him
First's five year old daughter. Defendant St. Pierre has
filed a motion to dismiss the superseding indictment,
claiming his right to a speedy trial has been violated.
Makes Him First was initially charged by criminal complaint
on October 13, 2016. She made an initial appearance the
following day and counsel was appointed to represent her
pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. She filed a motion for
a continuance on December 1, 2016, and that motion was
granted. Her trial was continued to April 17, 2017. On
November 9, 2016, defendant St. Pierre was charged in a
superseding indictment. He made an initial appearance on
December 6, 2016, and counsel was appointed to represent him
pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. The next day, his jury
trial was set for February 6, 2017, which was within the time
prescribed by the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161.
Defendant Makes Him First's trial was then reset for
February 6, 2017.
January 20, 2017, counsel for defendant Makes Him First filed
a second motion for continuance. Defendant St. Pierre
objected to a continuance and requested that the Court sever
the defendants for trial. The motion to continue was granted
over defendant St. Pierre's objection, the request for
severance was denied, and the trial was continued to May 23,
Court held an in camera hearing and sua
sponte appointed new counsel to defendant Makes Him
First on February 7, 2017. Defendant St. Pierre filed his
motion to dismiss on March 31, 2017, contending that his
right to have his trial held within 70 days has been
violated. Shortly after his motion to dismiss was filed,
defendant Makes Him First filed another motion to continue
the May 23, 2017, trial. Defendant St. Pierre objects to that
continuance as well.
Speedy Trial Act requires that trial begin within 70 days
after a defendant is charged or first appears. 18 U.S.C.
§ 3161 (c)(1). However, in the case of co-defendants, a
"reasonable period of delay when the defendant is joined
for trial with a codefendant as to whom the time for trial
has not run and no motion for severance has been
granted" is excluded in computing the time within which
trial must commence. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(6). In this
case, trial for the co-defendant was set for April 17, 2017,
prior to the time defendant St. Pierre entered an initial
appearance on the superseding indictment. His trial could
have originally been set for April 17, 2017, without
violating the Speedy Trial Act.
continuance of the trial from February 7, 2017, to May 23,
2017, was granted over defendant St. Pierre's objection
based upon the finding that:
[T]he ends of justice are served by continuing this trial
which ends outweigh the best interest of the public and the
defendants in a speedy trial. Despite the exercise of due
diligence, counsel requires additional time to effectively
review the government's discovery and to further
investigate the matter to properly defend this case.
Additional discovery is still being collected which must be
reviewed by defense counsel.
Eighth Circuit reminds us,
Any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by
any judge ... at the request of the defendant or his counsel.
. . if the judge granted such continuance on the basis of his
findings that the ends of justice served . . . outweigh the
best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy
trial. [18 U.S.C.] § 3161(h)(7)(A).
United States v. Jones, 795 F.3d 791, 798 (8th Cir.
2015). "[T]he plain language of section 3161(h)(7)(A)
does not require a defendant's consent to the continuance
if the judge granted such continuance on the basis of his
findings that the ends of justice served by taking such
action outweigh the best interest of the public and the
defendant in a speedy trial." United States v.
Herbst 666 F.3d 504, 510 (8th Cir. 2012) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
case, the ends of justice outweigh defendant St. Pierre's
desire for a more speedy trial. Defendants are both charged
with very serious crimes. Each is also charged with aiding or
abetting the other in committing the charged crimes.
Defendant Makes Him First required additional time to mount
her defense to these charges and she is entitled to that
additional time. The co-defendant exclusion provision of
§ 3161(h)(6) "is crucial in a case involving
multiple defendants because it provides that an exclusion
applicable to one defendant applies to all
codefendants." United States v. Fogarty, 692
F.2d 542, 546 (8th Cir. 1982). A continuance was granted in
this case at the request of defendant Makes Him First and the
exclusion of the time attributable to that continuance
applies to defendant St. Pierre.
St. Pierre contends that his Sixth Amendment right to a
speedy trial has been violated. "It is rare when the
Sixth Amendment has been violated, but the Speedy Trial Act
has not." United States v. Perez-Perez, 337
F.3d 990, 995 (8th Cir. 2003).
The Supreme Court identified four factors to consider when
applying a Sixth Amendment balancing test to a pretrial
delay: the length of delay, the reason for delay, whether the
defendant asserted the right to a speedy trial, and whether
the defendant suffered any prejudice. Barker v.