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United States v. Lara

United States District Court, D. Maine

August 4, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
VICTOR LARA JR., Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR SPEEDY TRIALVIOLATION

          JON D. LEVY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Following a jury trial held in September 2016, Victor Lara was convicted of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery and of using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence. ECF No. 240-1. Lara subsequently moved to dismiss the indictment against him on the basis that his right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 3161 et seq. (2017), and under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution had been violated. See ECF No. 301. For the following reasons, I deny the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Lara was arrested on state charges related to his federal offenses in August 2014. He was held in state custody until being arrested on the federal charges underlying the instant case in March 2015. Lara was indicted on the federal charges along with two co-defendants. The case was tried before a jury in September 2016. One of the co-defendants proceeded to trial with Lara and was also convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, among other offenses, while the third co-defendant pleaded guilty and testified on behalf of the Government at the trial.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Lara argues for dismissal based on both the Speedy Trial Act and on the Sixth Amendment. He concedes in his reply briefing, however, that his claim under the Speedy Trial Act is untimely. ECF No. 315 at 1; see also 18 U.S.C.A. § 3162(a)(2) (2017) (“Failure of the defendant to move for dismissal prior to trial or entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere shall constitute a waiver of the right to dismissal under this section.”). Because Lara has waived any claim under the Speedy Trial Act, I address only his Constitutional argument.

         A. Sixth Amendment Speedy Trial Right

         Courts examine four factors to determine whether a defendant's right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment[1] has been violated: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) the defendant's assertion of his right, and (4) the prejudice to the defendant caused by the delay. United States v. Irizarry-Colón, 848 F.3d 61, 67 (1st Cir. 2017) (citing Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972)). No one factor is dispositive; courts are instructed to “weigh all of the factors collectively before deciding whether a defendant's right to a speedy trial has been violated.” United States v. Dowdell, 595 F.3d 50, 60 (1st Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted). I turn to consider each factor.

         1. Length of the Delay

         Assessing the length of the delay involves a double inquiry: first, the delay must cross the threshold of being “presumptively prejudicial” in order to trigger the Constitutional speedy trial analysis and the weighing of the four factors defined above. Irizarry-Colon, 848 F.3d at 68. If the delay crosses this threshold, then the extent to which it stretches beyond the bare minimum required to trigger the analysis is one of the factors considered in the balancing test. Id. “Delay of around one year is considered presumptively prejudicial, and the presumption that delay prejudices the defendant ‘intensifies over time.'” United States v. Carpenter, 781 F.3d 599, 610 (1st Cir. 2015) (quoting Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647, 652 and n.1 (1992)).

         Lara contends that the length of the delay in his case should be measured from the time of his arrest on the related state charges in August 2014, which would result in a delay of approximately 25 months. The First Circuit has held, however, that the dual sovereignty doctrine dictates that a defendant's federal right to a speedy trial attaches upon the federal accusation or arrest. See Dowdell, 595 F.3d at 61-62. Lara argues that the First Circuit's decision in Rashad v. Walsh, 300 F.3d 27, 36 (1st Cir. 2002), supports the inclusion of his time in state custody in the speedy trial analysis.

         In Rashad, the court held that the defendant's time spent in state custody prior to his federal indictment did not count in the speedy trial analysis because the state detention was unrelated to the incident underlying the defendant's speedy trial claim. See 300 F.3d at 36. The court stated that “the fact that the petitioner was in state custody prior to his indictment is of no consequence unless that detention was related to the charges on which his speedy trial claim is based.” Id. Lara relies on this statement to argue that if the state detention is related to the same incident that results in later federal charges, then the time spent in state custody should count in the speedy trial analysis.

         Lara's interpretation of Rashad is foreclosed by the First Circuit's later decision in United States v. Dowdell. The defendant in Dowdell was the subject of a federal drug investigation. 595 F.3d at 52. He was indicted on state drug distribution charges arising out of the federal investigation in March 2002. Id. at 53. The federal government filed charges arising out of the same incident in November 2004. Id. The defendant eventually filed a motion to dismiss on speedy trial grounds, and argued that the length of the delay should be measured from the state indictment in March 2002 because the “state charges arose out of a federal investigation, were for the same offense as his federal charges, and were allegedly dismissed following a coordinated effort with the federal government.” Id. at 62. The court rejected this argument, holding that Supreme Court precedent on the dual sovereignty doctrine compelled the conclusion that “[t]he speed of a federal trial is measured from the federal accusation on which it is based; one sovereign's enforcement of its own criminal laws is not attributable to another sovereign merely because of the presence of investigatory assistance, prosecutorial collaboration, or overlap among charges.” Id.[2]

         Based on Dowdell, the delay in Lara's case must be measured from his federal arrest in March 2015. Lara was therefore detained for 17 months and 20 ...


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