Saturday, December 22, 2007

Client May Seek Speedy Trial Without Lawyer's Assent

A criminal defendant who is represented by counsel may assert a claim to a speedy trial pro se, even though counsel does not press the claim:

"Even excellent defense counsel may not be prepared to go to trial and may seek a continuance, or multiple continuances, due to the press of other business or for other perfectly proper reasons unrelated to the defense of defendant's case. The individual defendant, whose right to a speedy trial is at stake, may not care about those other cases or those other reasons. The defendant incarcerated while awaiting trial is properly concerned with his own need to resolve the charges against him. The tension between the burdens on defense counsel and the defendant's desire to resolve the charges quickly appears to have arisen in this case, in which defendant repeatedly sought a speedy trial, and counsel appears never to have sought to bring the case to trial or to call up the speedy trial motions or motion to dismiss for hearing."

The Supreme Court of Missouri ordered the trial judge to immediately hold a hearing to determine whether the defendant (who has been incarcerated for 18 months) should be released. A hearing to determine the speedy trial issue must be held within seven days. If the right was violated, the case must be dismissed. If not, the trial must be held within 30 days of the hearing. (Mike Frisch)

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