Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, November 07, 2016

Hughes: No speedy trial violation

In U.S. v Hughes, No. 14-14181 (Nov. 4, 2016), the Court rejected the defendant’s argument that his prosecution for being a felon-in-possession of a firearm should have been dismissed on Speedy Trial Act grounds. The Court found that the oral, pre-trial motion of the government for the detention of the defendant automatically triggered an excludable period from that day until the conclusion of the hearing on that motion. As a result, no Speedy Trial Act violation occurred. The Court rejected the argument that the period of delay was caused by the defendant’s non-excludable motion for a continuance. The Court also rejected Hughes’ claim that a juror was struck in violation of Batson. The government explained that it struck the juror because he had committed a felony and violated the terms of his resultant probation; these were not facially discriminatory reasons. The Court also rejected a Crawford v. Washington challenge to the admission of statements by a 911 caller. Citing Davis v. Washington, the Court explained that the 911 caller’s statements were non-testimonial. The Court further ruled that a jury instruction that told the jury that it took account of a defendant’s false exculpatory statement did not violate Hughes’ right to remain silent, when evidence was introduced that Hughes (falsely) denied knowledge of the firearm that was found by law enforcement. A false statement by a defendant may be considered as substantive evidence of guilt.