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State v. Jacobson

July 6, 2012

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF–RESPONDENT,
v.
BRETT J. JACOBSON, DEFENDANT–APPELLANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lansing, Judge.

Brett J. Jacobson appeals from the district court's appellate decision that reversed the magistrate court's order dismissing misdemeanor charges for violation of Idaho's speedy trial statute, Idaho Code § 19–3501. We reverse the district court's decision and reinstate the magistrate's order of dismissal.

I.

BACKGROUND

On June 26, 2010, Jacobson was arrested and cited for three misdemeanor offenses. He was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 28. Jacobson's counsel filed a notice of appearance, a speedy trial demand, and a demand for a sworn complaint on July 9. On August 2, a criminal complaint was filed. In August, the magistrate set the trial for January 14, 2011. On January 4, however, Jacobson moved to dismiss the charges on the ground that the State had failed to bring him to trial within six months from the entry of his not guilty plea as mandated by Idaho Code § 19–3501(4). At a hearing, the magistrate explained that the court had used the "ISTARS" court computer tracking system to automatically select a trial date compliant with Idaho Code § 19–3501, but the date of filing of the formal complaint was incorrectly entered as the starting date for the six-month period instead of the correct date of June 28, which was the date of Jacobson's not guilty plea. The magistrate court concluded that its error did not, under the statutory standard, constitute good cause for the failure to bring Jacobson to trial by December 28, 2010, which was six months from the entry of his not guilty plea, and the court therefore dismissed the charges.

The State appealed the dismissal order to the district court. That court, after conducting a balancing of factors applicable to constitutional speedy trial inquiries under the federal and Idaho constitutions, reversed. Jacobson appeals to this Court, seeking reinstatement of the magistrate's order of dismissal.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Whether a legal excuse has been shown for a delay of trial beyond the statutory period allowed by Idaho Code § 19–3501 is a matter for judicial determination upon the facts and circumstances of each case. State v. Clark, 135 Idaho 255, 260, 16 P.3d 931, 936 (2000). A trial judge does not have unbridled discretion to find good cause, however, and on appeal we will independently review the lower court's decision. Id.

III.

ANALYSIS

In Idaho, criminal defendants enjoy both constitutional and statutory entitlements to a speedy trial. The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution. These constitutional protections are supplemented by Idaho Code § 19–3501, which sets specific time limits within which a criminal defendant must be brought to trial. As relevant to the misdemeanor prosecutions here, the statute provides:

The court, unless good cause to the contrary is shown, must order the prosecution or indictment to be dismissed, in the following cases:

....

(4) If a defendant, charged with a misdemeanor offense, whose trial has not been postponed upon his application, is not brought to trial within six (6) months from the date that the ...


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