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United States v. Mitchell

United States District Court, Second Circuit

September 4, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RONALD MITCHELL, et al., Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

RICHARD J. ARCARA, District Judge.

Defendant Ronald Mitchell has moved to dismiss the Indictment in this case for a violation of his right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, 18 U.S.C. § 3161, et seq. (the "Speedy Trial Act" or "Act"). Defendant Mitchell argues that the 70-day period within which his trial was required to begin under § 3161(c)(1) of the Act expired after entry of a Magistrate Judge's pretrial rulings on the ground that no ends-of-justice exclusions of time from the speedy trial calculation were entered pursuant to § 3161(h)(7)(A). The United States opposes defendant's motion to dismiss on the ground that pretrial delay for codefendants' objections and appeals of the Magistrate Judge's pretrial rulings is delay for pretrial motions that is automatically excluded from the speedy trial calculation pursuant to §§ 3161(h)(1)(D) and (h)(6) of the Act and no additional ends-of-justice exclusions of time were necessary to toll the speedy trial clock.

It is well-settled that § 3161(h)(6) of the Speedy Trial Act provides for one calculation of the 70-day period within which the trial must start that applies to all defendants joined together for trial. United States v. Pena, 793 F.2d 486, 489 (2d Cir.1986) (construing§ 3161(h)(7) before it was redesignated § 3161(h)(6) by technical amendment in the Judicial Administration and Technical Amendments Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-406, § 13(3), 122 Stat. 4291). And it is equally wellsettled that, unless a defendant files a motion to be severed from codefendants with whom the defendant is joined together for trial, even unreasonable delay of the defendant's trial resulting from a pretrial motion of a codefendant is automatically excluded from the speedy trial calculation by operation of § 3161(h)(1)(D). United States v. Vasquez, 918 F.2d 329, 337 (2d Cir.1990); see United States v. Tinklenberg, 131 S.Ct. 2007, 2015 (2011) ("[In Henderson v. United States, 476 U.S. 321 (1986)], "the Court rejected the contention that the exclusion for pretrial motions governs only unreasonable delays... and [held] that the exclusion was intended to be automatic." quoting Henderson, 476 U.S. at 327 (1986), citing Bloate v. United States, 559 U.S. 196 (2010)).

Defendant Mitchell did not file a motion to be severed from codefendants with whom he was joined for trial because of pretrial delay, and codefendant pretrial motions were pending that automatically excluded time under § 3161(h)(1)(D. the Act. In these circumstances, the Court finds no ends-ofjustice exclusions of time were necessary to exclude delay for hearing and disposition of pretrial motions of codefendants. The Court therefore finds defendant has failed to carry his burden to establish that his right to a speedy trial was violated, and his motion to dismiss the Indictment is denied.

PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

On February 1, 2010, defendant Mitchell and 26 codefendants were charged in a criminal complaint alleging defendant knowingly participated in a cocaine-trafficking conspiracy with potential penalties of a 10-year mandatoryminimum term of imprisonment and a maximum term of life imprisonment. Dkt. No. 3.[1] The complaint was attached to a supporting affidavit that was 281 pages long. Id.

Defendant Mitchell was produced on a writ for an initial appearance on March 10, 2010, and the presiding Magistrate Judge entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendant. The Magistrate Judge entered a prospective ends-ofjustice Speedy Trail Act exclusion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A) through June 30, 2010. Dkt. No. 172.[2]

On June 29, 2010, defendant Mitchell and 22 codefendants were indicted. The Indictment charged three codefendants individually with participating in three separate narcotics-trafficking Continuing Criminal Enterprises in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848(a) (the "CCE counts"). The Indictment did not charge defendant in any of the CCE counts; he was charged in a single count with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. § 846. That is the same offense he was charged with in the complaint. Other defendants were charged in substantive cocaine-distribution counts in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a), and in counts charging unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug-trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), in addition to the CCE counts.

During a June 30, 2010 arraignment and scheduling conference for a codefendant, a prospective Speedy Trail Act exclusion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A) was entered through November 26, 2010. Dkt. No. 192. A pretrial motions deadline of November 26, 2010 was ordered. Id.

Defendant Mitchell was again produced on writ and was arraigned on the cocaine-trafficking conspiracy charge in the Indictment on July 16, 2010. Defendant entered a plea of not guilty. The previously-entered Speedy Trial exclusion and pretrial motions deadline was adopted for defendant. See July 16, 2010 Minute Entry.

Some of defendant Mitchell's codefendants filed pretrial motions, see e.g., Dkt. Nos. 249, 250, while others sought additional time to file motions, see e.g., Dkt. Nos. 246, 247. The Magistrate Judge entered an amended scheduling order that extended the time to file pretrial motions until February 4, 2011, and made additional findings to support a prospective Speedy Trail Act exclusion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A) through that date. Dkt. No. 254. Upon a motion by another codefendant, Dkt. No. 297, a second amended scheduling order extended the time to file pretrial motions to April 1, 2011, with additional findings supporting a prospective Speedy Trail Act exclusion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A) through that date. Dkt. No. 308. Earlier-filed pretrial motions by other codefendants remained pending. See e.g., Dkt. Nos. 249, 250.

Defendant Mitchell filed his pretrial motions on March 31, 2011. Dkt. No. 331. Among other pretrial relief, defendant sought severance from trial with the codefendants pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 14(a) on the ground that the trial was expected to include a large amount of inflammatory evidence against the co-defendants which defendant contended would not relate to him and would be unfairly prejudicial to him. Id. Defendant did not seek a severance for trial based upon a claim of reasonable delay.

Numerous other pretrial motions were filed by 10 remaining codefendants. See e.g., Dkt. Nos. 252, 333-36. The United States was given additional time to respond to defendants' pretrial motions, with consent of the remaining defendants in the case, see Dkt. No. 359, ¶ 8, and oral argument of the pretrial motions was adjourned to June 29, 2011. Dkt. No. 362. Some codefendants, with consent of the United States, sought to have the codefendants' pretrial motions held in abeyance. See e.g., Dkt. Nos. 377, 381. The Magistrate Judge granted the requests and adjusted the schedule for briefing and oral argument. See e.g., Dkt. No. 382.

During oral argument of some codefendants' pretrial motions on June 29, 2011, further proceedings on the pretrial motions, including a suppression hearing, were scheduled. Another codefendant asked the Court to hold his pretrial motions in abeyance. See June 29, 2011 Minute Entry.[3] The Magistrate Judge reserved decision on pretrial motions that were submitted at the close of oral argument. Id. Hearing a one codefendant's pretrial motions, and a suppression hearing, were adjourned to August 5, 2011. See July 28, 2011 Minute Entry. Briefing was ordered at the close of the suppression hearing on August 5, 2011. See August 5, 2011 Minute Entry. Further motions to adjourn oral argument of ...


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