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United States v. Sauceda

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

January 25, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
REYMUNDO SAUCEDA, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS INDICTMENT

          KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant, Reymundo Sauceda, moves pro se to dismiss the indictment in this matter under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(b) because he has been deprived of his right to a speedy trial.[1] Docket 171. Plaintiff, the United States, opposes the motion. Docket 175. For the reasons stated below, the court denies Sauceda's motion to dismiss the indictment.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 26, 2016, Sauceda was arrested on a complaint, which alleged that Sauceda was part of a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846. See Docket 1. Sauceda entered an initial appearance on the complaint on July 27, 2016. Docket 7. On August 9, 2016, an indictment was filed charging Sauceda and co-defendant Martin Rios with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846. Docket 15. Sauceda entered his initial appearance on the indictment on August 15, 2016, and Rios entered his initial appearance on the indictment on August 18, 2016. Dockets 21 and 25. The court issued a scheduling and case management order as to Sauceda and Rios on August 19, 2016. Docket 29.

         Since the issuance of the August 19, 2016 scheduling and case management order, Sauceda and his attorneys have filed eleven continuance motions.[2] See Dockets 42, 51, 62, 72, 77, 79, 96, 161, 168, 170, 181. As reflected in these continuance motions-as well as in the court's orders granting the majority of the continuance motions-the reason for the requested continuances was that Sauceda's attorneys needed additional time to prepare for trial in order to effectively represent Sauceda.[3]

         On July 6, 2016, a superseding indictment was filed, which added Ramiro Reyna, Jr., as a co-defendant. Docket 84. Co-defendant Reyna has moved for two continuances following his entry into the case. Dockets 141 and 174; see also Dockets 147 and 179 (orders granting continuances). Sauceda entered his initial appearance on the superseding indictment on July 31, 2017. Docket 102.

         On August 29, 2017, Sauceda filed three motions to suppress evidence. Dockets 105, 107, and 109. On September 12, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy held an evidentiary hearing on Sauceda's motions to suppress. Docket 121. Magistrate Judge Duffy filed a report and recommendation denying Sauceda's motions to suppress on September 27, 2017. Docket 139. And on October 16, 2017, this court entered an order adopting the report and recommendation in full following Sauceda's failure to object to the report and recommendation. Docket 155.

         DISCUSSION

         Sauceda filed his pro se motion to dismiss the indictment for alleged speedy trial right violations on January 5, 2018. Docket 171. On January 18, 2018, the court held a hearing on Sauceda's motion to dismiss.[4] At this hearing, the court went over the history of this case and heard argument from the parties regarding the motion to dismiss.[5] Docket 178. After considering the arguments presented, the court orally indicated that it would deny Sauceda's motion to dismiss. Id. On January 23, 2018-less than one month after Sauceda filed his motion to dismiss-Sauceda and his counsel filed an eleventh continuance motion. Docket 181; see also Docket 182 (waiver of speedy trial acknowledgment signed by Sauceda). The court granted this continuance on January 25, 2018. See Docket 183.

         I. Speedy Trial Act

         “Under the Speedy Trial Act, a defendant must be brought to trial within 70 days of his indictment or first appearance, whichever is later.” United States v. Mallett, 751 F.3d 907, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2014) (quotation omitted); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). When conducting a defendant's speedy trial calculation, certain days are excluded from the calculation. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h); United States v. Aldaco, 477 F.3d 1008, 1016 (8th Cir. 2007). “After these days are excluded, if the total number of non-excludable days exceeds seventy, then the district court must dismiss the indictment upon the defendant's motion.” Aldaco, 477 F.3d at 1016-17 (citations omitted). “The defendant has the burden of proof to support the motion, with the exception of the exclusion of time under 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(3) concerning the unavailability of the defendant or an essential witness.” Id. at 1017 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3162(a)(2)).

         Here, a review of Sauceda's speedy trial clock shows that 70 days are remaining. The reason Sauceda's speedy trial clock remains at 70 days is because following Sauceda's August 15, 2016 initial appearance on the indictment, excludables have been running either to await the initial appearance of a co-defendant or because continuances were requested by Sauceda. As indicated above, Sauceda and his attorneys have filed eleven motions to continue following the issuance of the court's August 19, 2016 scheduling and case management order. See Dockets 42, 51, 62, 72, 77, 79, 96, 161, 168, 170, 181. And each of the court's orders granting these continuances indicated that “[t]he period of delay resulting from such continuance is excluded in computing the time within which the trial of the offense must commence.” See, e.g., Dockets 43, 80, 179 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A)). Thus, because Sauceda has primarily been the party requesting continuances, and because Sauceda makes no showing of how his statutory speedy trial rights were violated, the court concludes that Sauceda has not met his burden to show that more than seventy non-excludable days have run.[6]See Aldaco, 477 F.3d at 1017 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3162(a)(2)).

         II. Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial

         The Sixth Amendment guarantees that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial . . . .” U.S. Const. amend. VI. “The Sixth Amendment right ‘attaches at the time of arrest or indictment, whichever comes first, and continues until the trial commences.' ” Aldaco, 477 F.3d at 1019 (quoting United States v. Perez-Perez, 337 F.3d 990, 995 (8th Cir. 2003)). In the Eighth Circuit, “Sixth Amendment challenges are reviewed separately from the Speedy Trial Act.” Id. at 1018. “But . . . ‘[i]t would be unusual to find the Sixth Amendment has been violated when the Speedy Trial Act has not.' ” Id. at 1018-19 (quoting United States v. Titlbach, 339 F.3d 692, 699 (8th Cir. 2003)). “ ‘To trigger speedy trial analysis, the defendant must allege ...


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