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United States v. Leeper

December 22, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge



Presently before this Court are motions to dismiss the Indictment based upon alleged violations of the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161 et seq., and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution filed by Defendants Jose Martinez and Hashaun Leeper. (Docket Nos.184 and 185.) Martinez has also moved to sever himself from his co-defendants. (Docket No. 184.)*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, the motions to dismiss and Martinez's motion for severance are denied.


A. Facts

This Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the facts and record of proceedings in this case. Only those facts necessary to resolve the present motions are discussed below.

On March 18, 2008, a federal grand jury returned a 26-count Indictment, naming 11 defendants. Although Hashaun Leeper was among the named defendants, Jose Martinez was not. The Indictment charged violations of the federal narcotics laws, including 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846 and 853(a); and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Following a hearing on March 21, 2008, the Honorable H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr., United States Magistrate Judge, directed that Hashaun Leeper be detained pending trial. Hashaun Leeper has remained incarcerated.

On June 10, 2008, the Government filed a Superseding Indictment. Therein, the Government added Jose Martinez as a defendant. The Government then moved to detain Martinez. Following a hearing on July 17, 2008, Judge Schroeder directed that Martinez be detained pending trial. Martinez has also remained incarcerated.

On October 15, 2008, Defendant Quentin Leeper filed a motion for discovery and to suppress evidence. (Docket No. 114.) Defendants Raymond Hodnett (Docket No. 123), Ronquike Maisonet (Docket No. 125), Major Anthony Newton (Docket No. 126), and Dion D. Knight (Docket No. 127) joined Quentin Leeper's motion. In addition to joining Quentin Leeper's motion to suppress, Maisonet, Newton, and Knight also filed omnibus motions of their own which were dated November 13, 2008, and joined in all motions of co-defendants. (Docket Nos. 125, 126, 127.) Judge Schroeder took the motions under advisement on December 11, 2008. (Docket No. 133.) Thereafter, on December 22, 2008, Martinez's attorney moved to withdraw. On January 14, 2009, withdrawal was granted, after which Defendant Martinez retained Attorney Parrinello.

On January 13, 2009, Judge Schroeder issued an Order of Continuance extending the time to decide the motions by 30 days, or from January 10, 2009 until February 9, 2009. (Docket No. 139.) Citing the complexity of the motions, Judge Schroeder excluded time pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(8)(A), after finding that the interests of justice in issuing a continuance overrides the defendants' and the public's interest in a speedy trial. (Docket No. 139.) The Order stated, "if for any reason counsel believes that an exclusion is inappropriate, an objection may be raised and a record made of the objection." (Docket No. 139.) No defendant objected.

Judge Schroeder issued seven additional Orders of Continuance before issuing his Report, Recommendation and Order, all of which were identically worded to the Order filed on January 13, 2009. (Docket Nos. 144, 150, 151, 155, 157, 158, 159.) Again, no defendant objected to these continuances.

On August 12, 2009, Judge Schroeder issued a Report, Recommendation and Order with respect to Quentin Leeper's and Major Anthony Newton's motions to suppress. (Docket No. 160.) And on September 3, 2009, Judge Schroeder issued five separate Decisions and Orders addressing the omnibus motions of Maisonet, Knight, Newton, and Leeper and the Motion for Joinder by Raymond Hodnett. (Docket Nos. 163, 164, 165, 166 and 167.)

By Order dated September 15, 2009, this Court adopted Judge Schroeder's Report, Recommendation and Order (Docket No. 160), and scheduled a status conference for September 25, 2009. (Docket No. 168.)

The parties appeared at the status conference on September 25, 2009. Prior to adjourning, this Court scheduled another status for October 2, 2009. This Court then excluded the time pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161(h)(7)(A) and (h)(1)(D), over the objection of Hashaun Leeper.

At the status conference, this Court scheduled trial for January 5, 2010, and on December 2, 2009, Defendants Jose Martinez and Hashaun Leeper filed their motions to dismiss based upon speedy trial violations. Defendant Martinez's motion also included a motion to sever (Docket No. 184.)


A. Defendants' Speedy Trial Act Claims

In their motions to dismiss, both Leeper and Martinez challenge Judge Schroeder's seven exclusions of time as unwarranted and unreasonable.*fn2 Specifically, they argue that the motions were not complex and, therefore, should not have tolled the speedy trial clock. Both defendants argue that, because Judge Schroeder exceeded his 30 day allotment to decide the motions after taking them ...

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