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United States v. Riley

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville

March 1, 2018



          ALETA A. TRAUGER United States District Judge.

         Before the court is defendant Robert Patrick Riley's Motion to Dismiss Indictment (Doc. No. 59) on the basis that he has been denied the right to a speedy trial, as protected by both the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C.§ 3161, and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. That motion has been fully briefed. Also pending is the defendant's Motion for Evidentiary Hearing (Doc. No. 60) on the Motion to Dismiss, as well as several pro se motions filed by the defendant, both when he was represented by counsel and after he was allowed to proceed without representation: three Motions to Dismiss Indictment (Doc. Nos. 31, 40, 77), also on Speedy Trial Act and constitutional grounds; a Motion for Independent Mental Examination (Doc. No. 41); and Motion to Squash [sic] Motion for Independent Mental Examination (Doc. No. 57).

         As set forth herein, the court finds that an evidentiary hearing is not required and will, therefore, deny the motion for such. (Doc. No. 60.) Finding no violation of the right to a speedy trial under either the Sixth Amendment or the Speedy Trial Act, the Motions to Dismiss filed by counsel for the defendant and by the defendant pro se (Doc. Nos. 31, 40, 59, 77) will be denied. The defendant's pro se Motion to Squash (Doc. No. 57) will be granted, and the Motion for Independent Mental Examination (Doc. No. 41) will be withdrawn in accordance with the defendant's request.

         I. Background

         A Criminal Complaint charging Riley with a single count of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) was filed on May 3, 2017, and an arrest warrant was issued the same day. (Doc. Nos. 1, 2.) As stipulated by the parties and substantiated by the docket in this case, Riley was arrested on the warrant and entered an initial appearance on May 9, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 4, 5.) On May 12, 2017, the government's detention motion was granted. (Doc. Nos. 3, 11.) The Indictment was filed on May 17, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 13 (Indictment), 14 (Sealed Indictment).) Riley was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on May 19, 2017. (Doc. No. 15.) An Order setting trial for July 25, 2017 was entered on May 23, 2017. (Doc. No. 16.)

         On May 25, 2017, the defendant, through counsel, filed a sealed Motion for a Competency Examination. (Doc. No. 18.) By sealed Order, the court granted that motion on June 1, 2017. (Doc. No. 21.) The court specifically ordered that Riley be committed to a facility of the United States Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) for the purpose of determining the defendant's competency to commit the crime with which he is charged and his competency to stand trial, “for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days, unless extended by further order of the court in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 4247(b).”[1] (Id.) In the same Order, the court directed the United States Marshals Service to “transport the defendant to the institution designated by the [BOP] as soon as reasonably practicable.” (Id.)

         According to the joint Stipulation filed by the parties at the court's request, on June 8, 2017, the BOP designated FDC Miami as the institution to which Riley would be sent for the competency evaluation. (Doc. No. 67, at 2.)

         On July 17, 2017, counsel for Riley filed his first Motion to Continue Trial (Doc. No. 22), in which he explained that the defendant had been incarcerated at FTC Oklahoma City since the entry of the Order committing the defendant to the custody of the BOP. (Doc. No. 22, at 1.) During that period, however, counsel had not had any contact with his client and had not obtained a waiver of his speedy trial rights. Counsel represented that he would make an effort to obtain the defendant's executed waiver of speedy trial rights and file it with the court once he did so. (Id. at 1-2.) The court granted the motion on July 20, 2017, “conditioned upon the timely filing of a waiver of speedy trial” (Doc. No. 23), and entered an Order the same day resetting the trial date for September 12, 2017 (Doc. No. 24). However, no speedy trial waiver was ever filed.

         On August 14, 2017, seventy-four days after the court entered the Order granting the Motion for a Competency Evaluation and directing that the defendant be transported to a facility designated by the BOP, Riley arrived at FDC Miami. (Doc. No. 67, at 2.)

         On September 7, 2017, counsel for Riley filed his Second Motion to Continue Jury Trial, stating that he had not been in touch with his client since he was turned over to the custody of the BOP on June 1, 2017 and that he had mailed a speedy trial waiver to Riley, but Riley had not returned it. (Doc. No. 25, at 1.) Counsel again represented that he would attempt to communicate with his client by U.S. Mail, obtain a speedy trial waiver, and promptly file it with the court. (Id. at 1-2.) The court granted this motion on the same day, noting only that the trial date would be reset by subsequent order. (Doc. No. 26.) No. speedy trial waiver followed the entry of the Order granting the Second Motion to Continue either.

         According to the government, the defendant refused to cooperate with the attempts to evaluate him until October 19, 2017. (See Doc. No. 67, at 2 (“Examiners state cooperation began”).) In various pro se filings, the defendant disputes that statement. (See, e.g., Doc. No. 45, at 3.)

         On December 7, 2017, Riley filed his first pro se Motion to Dismiss Indictment, arguing that his rights under the Speedy Trial Act had been violated and that the Indictment should be dismissed with prejudice. (Doc. No. 31.) He also filed a motion seeking the appointment of new counsel (Doc. No. 32), which the court denied (Doc. No. 34).

         The court finally received the Forensic Evaluation of the defendant, dated December 6, 2017, around December 19, 2017. (Doc. No. 36.) Based on the Evaluation, the court entered an Order on December 19, finding the defendant competent to stand trial and resetting trial for February 13, 2018. (Doc. No. 37.) Riley was returned to the custody of the United States Marshals Service on December 21, 2017. (Doc. No. 67, at 2.)

         He filed a second pro se Motion to Dismiss Indictment on January 10, 2018. (Doc. No. 40.) The court conducted a status conference with the defendant present on February 1, 2018. At that time, the defendant affirmed that he wished to keep Bob Lynch, Jr. as his attorney. In order to allow the defendant time to file certain motions prior to trial, Riley agreed to continue the trial to March 6, 2018, and agreed to sign a limited speedy trial waiver, pertaining only to the time between the previous trial date of February 13, 2018 and the new date of March 6, 2018. (Doc. No. 54.) The defendant's signed waiver was entered separately on the docket, as was an Order resetting the trial for March 6. (Doc. Nos. 53, 55.)

         On February 12, 2018, Riley, through appointed counsel Lynch, filed a Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Evidentiary Hearing. (Doc. Nos. 59, 60.) On February 13, 2018, Bob Lynch filed a Motion to Withdraw, which was granted. New counsel, James Kevin Cartwright, was appointed. The government then filed a Response in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, and the defendant filed a Reply. (Doc. Nos. 66, 74.) The government and newly appointed counsel, in accordance with the court's request (Doc. No. 62), also filed a joint Stipulation of Events Relevant to Speedy Trial (“Stipulation”) (Doc. No. 67).

         On February 20, 2018, Cartwright requested a status conference, because he had been given notice by his client that he was “fired.” (Doc. No. 68.) At the status conference conducted on February 23, 2018, the court granted Riley's request to proceed to trial pro se but appointed Cartwright as elbow counsel. (Doc. No. 75.)

         Thereafter, the defendant filed his third pro se Motion to Dismiss Indictment, along with numerous attachments, in which he again insists that he was not uncooperative, that he was “never called for any testing until Oct. 29th 2017 by anyone” and that he was “tested a matter of 4 ½ hours in 100 days at that facility.” (Doc. No. 77-4, at 1.) The documents submitted by the defendant include several messages from the defendant to the warden of the facility where he was held, asking why his evaluation was taking so long. Notably, one message, dated November 22, 2017, asks

What is going on with phycology [sic] that it is taken [sic] 4 to 6 months to get evaluation here? I have been told I would see my DR LEWIS [sic] yesterday. ITS been over a month since the time before that. . . . All of us here is wondering why 30 day order ...

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