Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mathurin: Plea Negotiations do not toll Speedy Trial Act

In U.S. v. Mathurin, No. 11-13211 (Aug. 15, 2011), the Court held that the government violated the Speed Trial Act when it failed to file an indictment within thirty days from the date on which the defendant was arrested -- which in Mathurin’s case was the date on which he was transferred from juvenile to adult status.
The government claimed that the thirty-day period was tolled because during this period the parties were engaged in plea negotiations. The Court rejected this argument, pointing that 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)’s tolls the period during which a court considers a plea agreement, but does not automatically toll periods during which plea negotiations are happening. The Court declined to include plea negotiations within the "ends of justice" catch-all of the Act, noting that plea negotiations are controlled by the parties, not the court, and this catch-all was aimed at delay attributable to court inaction. The Court rejected the argument that Mathurin waived the Speedy Trial claim because he failed to raise it prior to the filing fo the indictment. The Court noted that the Act only requires the defendant to move for dismissal prior to trial, or entry of a guilty plea. The Court rejected the argument that defense counsel "sought the pre-indictment delay," noting that a party could not control the running of the act, which is designed to advance the public’s interest in speedy trials.
The Court remanded the case to the district court for a determination whether the indictment should be dismissed with, or without, prejudice.