Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Oliva: No Speedy Trial Violation Where 23-Month Delay Between Indictment and Arrest Was Due to Government Negligence

In United States v. Oliva, No. 17-12091 (Sept. 18, 2018) (Wilson, Newsom, Vinson) (per curiam), the Court held that a 23-month delay between indictment and arrest, due to the government's negligence, did not violate the defendants' right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment.

Applying Barker v. Wingo, the Court concluded defendant was required to prove actual prejudice because the first two Barker factors--the length of delay and the reason for delay--did not "weigh heavily" against the government.  The Court found no clear error in the district court's finding that the government's negligence was neither purposeful nor undertaken in bad faith, and the Court rejected the defendants' argument that the case law did not require such conduct.  The Court also found that, unlike the 2.5 year delay in a prior case involving a simple investigation, the 23-month delay for the more complex investigation here was not "inordinate."  The Court also found that the negligence, while worrisome, was not as egregious as in past cases because the government agent believed that another agency was responsible for the arrest, he was serving as a solo investigator for the first time and was unfamiliar with procedure, he quickly effectuated the arrest once he realized his mistake, and the prosecutor who secured the indictment left the office and was not replaced for more than a year.  Thus, when comparing the length of the delay and the reason for it with past cases, the Court concluded that those two factors did not weight heavily against the government, and the defendants were therefore required to prove actual prejudice (which they admittedly could not).