The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY
Memorandum Opinion On Motion to Dismiss
Defendant was indicted on March 16, 1964. Now, almost six years later, on February 13, 1970, the government proposes to try him for alleged income tax evasions covering the years 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960 amounting to $13,000.
On February 3, 1970, defendant moved for an order, pursuant to Rule 48(b), Fed.R.Crim.P., and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Federal Constitution, dismissing the indictment on the ground that defendant has been deprived of his right to a speedy trial and to due process and would be unduly prejudiced by a trial six years after return of the indictment and ten to thirteen years after the alleged events.
Defendant promptly pleaded not guilty to all five counts of the indictment on March 31, 1964. Following the plea, motions were made by both sides and decided on October 1, 1965. Among these motions was defendant's motion for a bill of particulars. The government filed the requested bill of particulars on January 14, 1966.
Thereafter, the government did not take any steps to bring this case to trial until June 6, 1969, three and a half years later, at which time an assistant United States attorney, who had just been put in charge of the case, placed it on the trial calendar.
The government candidly admits that it can offer no excuse for the delay here except the constitutionally deficient and perennial one of inadequate staff in the United States Attorney's office.
There is no criticism intended here of the present or former United States Attorney or any Assistant United States Attorney. There is no question that the present and former United States Attorney and all of their staff are exceedingly dedicated and overworked men and women. The responsibility for providing a defendant in a criminal case with a speedy trial in this District is, nevertheless, the responsibility of government. It is plainly the responsibility of government to remedy the shortage of Assistant United States Attorneys and judges.
As soon as the case was assigned to the present Assistant United States Attorney in June 1969, he placed it upon the trial calendar on June 6, 1969. An associate of defense counsel moved to adjourn the assignment of the case to a trial judge until June 12, 1969. The request was granted without opposition from the government. [Affidavit in Opposition, Exh. A.] On June 12, the Assistant asked the court to send the case out for a November or December trial. Defense counsel consented to this request. [Affidavit in Opposition, Exh. B.] The government claims that the delay which ensued from June 1969 to date stemmed from the unavailability of a judge assigned to a criminal trial part to try the case until February 1970 and the record supports its claims [Affidavit in Opposition, Exhs. C-F.]
In short, the inordinate delay from January 1966 until February 1970 in bringing this case to trial results from governmental inaction. It is just such governmental default that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a speedy trial rails against. And as defense counsel so aptly rejoins, he has tried 10 tax evasion and other criminal cases in this very Court of more recent "vintage" than the instant case. [Affidavit in Support, p. 5 and Supplemental Affidavit.]
There was, therefore, in this case, a conscious government decision to postpone this trial in favor of other later indicted defendants. There is here an unexcused delay of four years from the filing of the government's bill of particulars until trial, an extended period of delay similar to that which formed a basis for the grant of similar motions in recent cases in this Court. United States v. Skinner, 308 F. Supp. 1221 (S.D.N.Y.1969); United States v. Chin, 306 F. Supp. 397 (S.D.N.Y.1969); United States v. Ketchum, F. Supp. (S.D.N.Y., Aug. 11, 1969, 62 CR. 782); United States v. Roberts, 293 F. Supp. 195 (S.D.N.Y.1968); United States v. Richardson, 291 F. Supp. 441 (S.D.N.Y.1968); United States v. Mann, 291 F. Supp. 268 (S.D.N.Y.1968).
Such a delay is not only undue delay but, when unexcused as here, it is prima facie prejudicial. In such a case, defendant need not show any more particularized prejudice beyond faded memory. See United States ex rel. Solomon v. Mancusi, 412 F.2d 88, 91 (2d Cir. 1969). The burden then shifts to the government to show that defendant has not been prejudiced by the delay.
In the mid fifties, defendant took over an upholstery business. One of the counts in the indictment charges him with understating the gross receipts of this business in his 1960 return. The other four counts charge defendant with wilfully attempting to evade his taxes on his income from the business for the four years in question.
Defendant claims that several prospective witnesses, including the former owners of the business and several employees, have either died or left the country since the indictment was returned and, consequently, he would be ...