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United States v. Miller

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 2, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DONOVAN MILLER, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Nancy Torresen United States Chief District Judge

         Before me is Defendant's motion to dismiss due to speedy trial violations (ECF No. 45). The Defendant argues that a combination of pre-indictment delay and unduly lengthy post-indictment detention requires dismissal of the Indictment. The Government opposes the motion. Based on my review of the written motion, I will DENY the motion for reasons explained herein.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 12, 2015, the Defendant pled guilty in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont to an information charging him with conspiracy to distribute heroin in 2013. On August 24, 2015, the Defendant was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release. The Defendant was released to a Halfway House in Albany, New York on November 30, 2016. According to the Pretrial Services Report prepared in this case, the Defendant's projected release date from Bureau of Prisons custody was March 19, 2017. Pretrial Services Report 1 (ECF No. 15).

         The Indictment in this case was filed on December 14, 2016. The Indictment alleges that on about March 29, 2014, the Defendant knowingly transported an individual in interstate commerce with the intent that she engage in prostitution and aiding and abetting the same in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421 and § 2. Indictment (ECF No. 2). The Clerk of Court issued a warrant for the Defendant's arrest on December 15, 2016. Arrest Warrant (ECF No. 7). The date that the Defendant was arrested on the warrant is in dispute. The Defendant contends that he was arrested on December 20, 2016. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 4. The Government contends that the Bureau of Prisons merely moved him from his halfway house placement to a secured facility after they learned of the warrant for his arrest on new charges. Obj. to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 4. (ECF No. 48). The docket entries from the Northern District of New York, where the Defendant made his initial appearance, reflect that the Rule 5(c)(3) arrest of the Defendant occurred on January 9, 2017. United States District Court for the Northern District of New York Docket Sheet (ECF No. 11-1). Miller waived his right to a preliminary detention hearing in that district, instead requesting that such hearing be held in the prosecuting district. Waiver of Rule 5 and 5.1 Hearings (ECF No. 11-3). The Defendant was ordered transported to the District of Maine. Commitment to Another District (ECF No. 11-4).

         The Defendant first appeared in the District of Maine on February 28, 2017. First Appearance (ECF No. 17). The Court continued the detention hearing several times either on the Defendant's motion or a joint motion of the parties. Def.'s Mots. to Continue (ECF Nos. 23, 27 and 33). At the March 20, 2017, detention hearing the Government withdrew its motion for detention and the Defendant was released on conditions that day. (ECF Nos. 38, 41).

         DISCUSSION

         The Defendant argues that a combination of pre-indictment delay and unreasonably long post-indictment detention requires dismissal of the Indictment under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(b), the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause, and the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. I will address each argument in turn.

         I. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(b)

         Under Rule 48 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, courts have supervisory authority to “dismiss an indictment, information, or complaint if unnecessary delay occurs in: (1) presenting a charge to a grand jury; (2) filing an information against a defendant; or (3) bringing a defendant to trial.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 48(b). The Defendant asks me to exercise my discretion to dismiss the indictment against him pursuant to Rule 48(b) because the indictment is dated December 14, 2016, which is more than 32 months after the date of the alleged criminal conduct. The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, however, has held that Rule 48 applies only to post-arrest delay. See, e.g., United States v. McCoy, 977 F.2d 706, 712 & n. 6 (1st Cir. 1992) (“Rule 48(b) is limited in application to post-arrest delay.” (citing United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 319 (1971))).

         The Defendant's post-arrest delay - now less than six months with only three months spent in pre-trial detention - does not amount to the type of extreme delay which would warrant relief under Rule 48.

         II. Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause

         The Defendant also seeks dismissal of the indictment on the alternative ground that the 32-month pre-indictment delay violated his rights under the Fifth Amendment.[1] Marion, 404 U.S. at 324. As the First Circuit has explained,

[T]he Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment has a limited role to play in protecting against oppressive [pre-indictment] delay. The Due Process Clause has only a limited role in this context because the statutes of limitations provide the primary protection against undue pre-indictment delays. To rise to the level of a due process violation despite the applicable statute of limitations not having run, the delay (1) must have caused substantial prejudice to [defendant's] rights ...

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