The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
In a prior decision, the Court raised issues under the Speedy Trial Act regarding both the trial and the detention of the defendants, and requested briefing. The final brief was received on June 21, 2011, and the matter is now at issue.
The Government concedes that the Speedy Trial Act was violated and seeks a dismissal without prejudice. The defendants seek dismissal with prejudice. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the dismissal should be without prejudice.
This case began with the filing of a Complaint on November 23, 2010. The three defendants -- Macedo, Sanchez-Elorza, and Jaimes-Oliveros -- were charged with possessing methamphetamine on November 17, 2010, with intent to distribute. They had their initial appearance on the Complaint on November 30, 2010, and began their period of detention on these charges on that date.
On December 14, 2010, an indictment was filed against the same three defendants charging them with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and four charges of possession with intent to distribute. The defendants were arraigned on the indictment on December 21, 2010, and a trial date was set for February 14, 2011.
On January 26, 2011, the Government filed a superseding indictment. It carried forward the five charges from the original indictment and added a single charge -- felon-in-possession -- against an existing defendant, Jaimes Oliveros. No other modifications were made by the superseding indictment. The three defendants were arraigned on the superseding indictment on February 3, 2011. At that arraignment, trial was continued to March 28, 2011. None of the parties requested the continuance and no findings of excludable time were made.
Defendant Jaimes-Oliveros filed a motion for continuance on March 16, 2011, and the Court granted that motion, continuing trial until May 23, 2011. On May 17, 2011, defendant Macedo filed a motion for continuance, and the Court granted that motion, continuing the trial to July 18, 2011.
The Court raised the Speedy Trial Act issue with counsel and requested briefing. The Court expressed concern that the filing of the superseding indictment did not warrant any extensions of the Speedy Trial Act deadlines with regard to the charges contained in the original indictment and carried through into the superseding indictment. The defendants responded by filing motions to dismiss with prejudice on the ground that the Act was violated. The Government concedes that the Act was violated but requests dismissal without prejudice.
If the Speedy Trial Act's 70-day requirement started to run on the date defendants were arraigned on the indictment -- December 21, 2010 -- the trial on the original charges had to take place by March 1, 2011. The original trial date of February 14, 2011, was within this time. But when defendants were arraigned on the superseding indictment on February 3, 2011, a new trial date was set for March 28, 2011. That date was 27 days beyond the Speedy Trial Act deadline for the charges contained in the original indictment and carried through in the superseding indictment. The new trial date was not requested by any party and was not accompanied by any findings of excludable time. Defendant Jaimes-Oliveros filed a motion to continue on March 16, 2011, so the Act was violated by the 15 days between the March 1, 2011, deadline and the March 16, 2011, motion to continue.
The Government concedes that the Speedy Trial Act deadline was March 1, 2011, and that the proper remedy is dismissal, but they ...