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State of Idaho v. Craig Charles Risdon

December 21, 2012

STATE OF IDAHO,
PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CRAIG CHARLES RISDON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonneville County. Hon. Jon J. Shindurling, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gutierrez, Judge

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

2012 Opinion No. 68

Judgment of conviction for statutory rape, affirmed.

Craig Charles Risdon appeals from his judgment of conviction entered upon his conditional guilty plea to statutory rape. Specifically, he challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss on constitutional and statutory speedy trial grounds. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

At the age of twenty-eight, Risdon engaged in a sexual relationship with a fifteen-year-old girl, resulting in her pregnancy. A criminal complaint was issued on October 16, 2009, charging Risdon with two counts of statutory rape, Idaho Code § 18-6101(1). Risdon was arrested in California on October 28 and made an initial appearance in Idaho on November 12. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for November 25. However, the parties stipulated three times to continue the preliminary hearing: twice because they were awaiting DNA test results of the infant born to the victim and once because defense counsel had a scheduling conflict. On February 16, 2010, Risdon was charged by information with two counts of statutory rape, but was not arraigned until May 5 because he requested, and the parties stipulated to, a further delay in order to obtain the DNA results. At the arraignment, the district court scheduled a pretrial conference for July 28 and a jury trial to commence on August 9.

On the date of the pretrial conference, the State moved to continue the trial because the state forensic laboratory scientist who performed the DNA testing establishing Risdon's paternity of the infant (hereinafter "DNA scientist"), would be unavailable to testify at trial due to medical complications arising from pregnancy. The district court granted the motion to continue, finding there was good cause for the delay given the DNA scientist's medical condition. Because the State was told the DNA scientist would be unavailable for approximately seven more months, the prosecution agreed to request that the state lab retest the DNA samples, which the State estimated would take approximately sixty to ninety days. The district court reset the trial for November 1.

On September 16, the State again moved to continue the trial on the basis the state lab declined to retest the DNA samples, as it was against the lab's policy to do so. Without Risdon or his counsel present, the district court granted the motion, resetting trial for January 24, 2011. On January 12, Risdon filed a motion to continue the trial and to dismiss the case on both constitutional and statutory speedy trial grounds. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, reaffirming its prior ruling that there was good cause for the delay due to witness unavailability and the lab's "good faith" refusal to perform retesting.

Apparently granting Risdon's motion to continue, the district court vacated the January 24 trial date and scheduled a status conference for January 27, during which trial was again rescheduled to February 22. However, prior to the trial date, the parties entered a conditional plea agreement, whereby Risdon agreed to plead guilty to one count of statutory rape, but preserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss. Risdon now appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

Risdon argues the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss on constitutional and statutory speedy trial grounds. 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 prosecution 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: (2) If a defendant, whose trial has not been postponed upon his application, is not brought to trial within six (6) ...


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