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United States v. Allen

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

August 6, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RICHARD T. ALLEN, JR.

          Christopher H. Steger, Magistrate Judge.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TRAVIS R. McDONOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Richard T. Allen, Jr.'s motion to dismiss the indictment for violation of the Speedy Trial Act and the Sixth Amendment (Doc. 96). There is no dispute that the Government has violated Defendant's protections under the Speedy Trial Act (Doc. 100, at 1), and Defendant's motion (Doc. 96) will be GRANTED. For the following reasons, the indictment will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 23, 2018, a grand jury indicted Defendant on one count of conspiracy to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, and a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846, 841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(C). (Doc. 1.) On March 12, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to continue the deadlines and trial date. (Doc. 19.) On March 26, 2018, the Court granted Defendant's motion. (Doc. 24.) On May 22, 2018, the grand jury returned a three-count superseding indictment charging the defendant with a conspiracy to distribute and two substantive distribution-related offenses. (Doc. 31.) On July 30, 2018, one week before the trial was set to begin, Defendant filed a motion to continue the trial date. (Doc. 57.)

         On August 1, 2018, the United States filed a plea agreement signed by Defendant and his attorney, leading the Court to cancel Defendant's trial date and set Defendant's rearraignment for August 14, 2018. (Docs. 60-63.) But, on August 14, 2018, Defendant did not proceed with his guilty plea and instead moved the Court to appoint him new counsel. (Docs. 66, 70.) On August 17, 2018, Defendant's attorney moved to withdraw. (Doc. 69.) United States Magistrate Judge Christopher H. Steger held a hearing on August 22, 2018, and, on September 5, 2018, allowed Defendant's previous attorney to withdraw and appointed Defendant's current counsel. (Docs. 73, 79.)

         On November 6, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to suppress, and Magistrate Judge Steger set a hearing on the motion for January 9, 2019. (Docs. 81, 83.) On December 28, 2019, Defendant filed an amended motion to suppress (Doc. 84), so the hearing was reset for February 6, 2019. (Doc. 85.) Defendant was accidentally not brought to the hearing on February 6, 2019, so the hearing was rescheduled and held on February 12, 2019. (Docs. 89, 90.) After the suppression hearing, Defendant moved to extend the time to file a post-hearing brief on February 21, 2019, which the Court granted. (Docs. 92, 94.)

         On July 3, 2019, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss indictment for violation of the Speedy Trial Act. (Doc. 96.) On July 11, 2019, Magistrate Judge Steger issued his report and recommendation that the Court deny Defendant's amended motion to suppress. (Doc. 98.) No. timely objections were filed, and the undersigned accepted and adopted Magistrate Judge Steger's report and recommendation and denied Defendant's amended motion to suppress. (Doc. 102.) On July 26, 2019, the Government responded to Defendant's motion to dismiss, agreeing that it had violated Defendant's rights under the Speedy Trial Act but denying that it has violated Defendant's Sixth-Amendment rights. The Government requested that the Court dismiss the indictment without prejudice. (Doc. 100, at 1.) Defendant's motion to dismiss is now ripe for the Court's review.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. The Speedy Trial Act

         The Speedy Trial Act requires that the trial of a defendant charged in an information or indictment “commence within seventy days from the filing date (and making public) of the information or indictment, or from the date the defendant has appeared before a judicial officer of the court in which such charge is pending, whichever date last occurs.” 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). The statute also sets forth periods of delay to “be excluded in computing the time within which . . . the trial of any such offense must commence.” Id. § 3161(h).

         “[I]f a meritorious and timely motion to dismiss [based on a Speedy Trial Act violation] is filed, the district court must dismiss the charges, though it may choose whether to dismiss with or without prejudice.” Zedner v. United States, 547 U.S. 489, 499 (2006). To make this determination, the Court considers the following factors: “the seriousness of the offense; the facts and circumstances of the case which led to the dismissal; and the impact of a reprosecution on the administration of this chapter and on the administration of justice.” 18 U.S.C. § 3162(a)(2); e.g., United States v. Turner, 602 F.3d 778, 786 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court must balance these factors, and there is no presumption regarding whether dismissal should be with or without prejudice. United States v. Gross, 432 Fed.Appx. 490, 493 (6th Cir. 2011).

         Defendant and the Government agree that Defendant's rights under the Speedy Trial Act have been violated, and that, as of the date Defendant filed his motion to dismiss, 247 non- excludable days had passed since Defendant's original indictment. (Doc. 96, at 2; Doc. 97, at 3; Doc. 100, at 1, 5.) Thus, the indictment must be dismissed.

         To determine whether dismissal should be with or without prejudice, the Court considers the three factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3162(a)(1). First, the offense at issue is a serious one. In the Sixth Circuit, drug offenses are “categorically labeled . . . as serious.” United States v. Moss, 217 F.3d 426, 431 (6th Cir. 2000); see also United States v. Ewing, 1994 WL 577055, at *2 (6th Cir. Oct. 18, 1994) (“Felony drug charges . . . are generally treated as serious offenses.”). Furthermore, in this case, the charged offense is typically subject to a twenty-year statutory maximum, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C); however, Defendant may be subject to an enhanced sentence ...


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