Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ammar: Speedy Trial Act violation

In U.S. v. Ammar, No. 13-12044 (Nov. 29, 2016), the Court vacated a defendant’s conviction because of a violation of the Speedy Trial Act, and remanded for the district court to consider whether the dismissal of the indictment should be with, or without, prejudice. On September 1, 2011, Ammar was indicted, with other defendants, in a case in which the government was contemplating seeking the death penalty. This indictment started the 70-day Speedy Trial Act deadline. However, over Ammar’s repeated objections, the district court set the case for trial one year later. The district court rejected Ammar’s motion to dismiss for a Speedy Trial Act violation on the ground that the trial date was “by agreement of everybody.” This finding was factually inaccurate, as Ammar had repeatedly objected to the length of the delay. Further, an agreement of the parties does not satisfy the required “ends of justice” finding to justify tolling the Act’s 70-day deadline. The Court rejected the argument that a district court need not utter “magic words” to toll the deadline, finding that, even if this were possible, here the district court explicitly declined to make ends-of-justice findings, relying instead, erroneously, on the “agreement of everybody.” The Court left it to the district court to apply the statutory factors and make the determination whether the indictment should be dismissed with or without prejudice.