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United States v. Harris

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 2, 2016

ISA M. HARRIS and MUSA J. HARRIS, Defendants.


          Cheryl R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the court on Defendant Isa M. Harris' Motion to Dismiss and Amended Motion to Dismiss, (Filing Nos. 25 and 29). For the reasons set forth below, the motions should be denied.


         On April 22, 2015 Isa Harris was indicted in the District of Nebraska for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. (Filing No. 1). An arrest warrant was issued for Harris on April 23, 2015. The case was assigned to an Investigator with the Lincoln Police Department (“LPD”) and he was responsible for finding Harris and bringing him into custody. The LPD subsequently sought assistance from the United States Marshal's Service (“USMS”) in apprehending Harris on May 29, 2015. The information provided to the USMS indicated Harris' last known address was 115 Harris Street, Bay Point, California. On May 29, 2015, a Deputy Marshal with the USMS in Lincoln, Nebraska entered the warrant with the National Crime Information Center (“NCIC”) - a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigations that compiles information regarding previous arrests, convictions, warrants, and other criminal history for individuals across the country. He later validated the warrant on August 11, 2015.

         At the time the warrant was first issued, Harris was in custody in San Jose, California on a California state charge and remained there until July 4, 2015. He was released from custody in California apparently without the authorities in California realizing there was an active warrant for his arrest due to the charges in Nebraska federal court.

         Harris was again arrested by the San Francisco Sheriff's Department (“SFSD”) on or about February 8, 2016 on the Nebraska issued warrant. The USMS in California sent the SFSD a “detainer” instructing the SFSD to contact the USMS prior to releasing Harris. The USMS for Northern California asserts the SFSD notified it on March 11, 2016 the USMS could take custody of Harris. The SFSD has no record of making any such notification.

         On March 14, 2016, Harris was brought before the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for a Rule 5[1] proceeding. He was transported to Nebraska and had his Initial Appearance and Arraignment on the indictment on May 10, 2016. His trial was originally scheduled for June 27, 2016. (Filing No. 14). Defendant filed a pro se motion to dismiss on May 9, 2016, (Filing No. 16). The motion was denied without prejudice to re-filing with the assistance of his court-appointed counsel. (Filing No. 23). The motion to dismiss now before the court was filed on June 6, 2016, (Filing No. 25) and amended on June 15, 2016. (Filing No. 29).


         Harris asserts his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy ... trial....” U.S. Const. amend. VI. The Sixth Amendment right “attaches at the time of arrest or indictment, whichever comes first, and continues until the trial commences.” United States v. Perez-Perez, 337 F.3d 990, 995 (8th Cir.2003).

United States v. Aldaco, 477 F.3d 1008, 1018-19 (8th Cir. 2007).

         In determining whether a defendant's Constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated the court considers four factors: 1) the length of delay; 2) the reason for delay; 3) whether the defendant asserted the right to speedy trial; and 4) whether the defendant suffered any prejudice. Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972).

         In assessing the impact of the length of the delay, the court must first determine whether there has been an “uncommonly long” delay between indictment and trial. United States v. Porchay, 651 F.3d 930, 940 (8th Cir. 2011). This inquiry has two parts. First, “[s]imply to trigger a speedy trial analysis, an accused must allege that the interval between accusation and trial has crossed the threshold dividing ordinary from ‘presumptively prejudicial' delay.” Dogget v. United States, 505 U.S. 647, 651-52 (1992)). Second, “the court must then consider . . . the extent to which the delay stretches beyond the bare minimum needed to trigger judicial examination of the claim.” Id. at 652.

         The threshold for finding a presumptively prejudicial delay is a delay of approximately 12 months from indictment to trial. See United States v. Titlbach,339 F.3d 692, 699 (8th Cir. 2003). Thus, any delay over approximately a year - such as the one in this case - is presumptively prejudicial. Id. The first Barker factor weighs in favor of Harris. However, the delay in this case is only slightly over ...

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