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State v. Bridgeford

Supreme Court of Nebraska

November 3, 2017

State of Nebraska, appellee,
v.
Gerard Bridgeford, appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee,
v.
Judith Bridgeford, appellant.

         1. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation presents a question of law, which an appellate court resolves independently of the conclusion reached by the trial court.

         2. Speedy Trial: Waiver: Motions for Continuance. Although the amendments to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-1207(4)(b) (Reissue 2016) were designed to prevent abuse, it does not follow that the waiver set forth therein applies only if the defendant's continuance was in bad faith.

         3. Speedy Trial: Waiver: Motions for Continuance: Time. To determine if a defendant has permanently waived his or her statutory right to a speedy trial, the inquiry is simply whether the defendant's motion to continue resulted in a trial date that exceeded the 6-month period, as calculated with the excludable periods up to the date of the motion; the reason for and nature of the motion to continue are of no consequence.

         4. Speedy Trial: Time: Indictments and Informations. To calculate the 6-month clock, a court must exclude the day the information was filed, count forward 6 months, back up 1 day, and then add any time excluded under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-1207(4) (Reissue 2016).

         5. Speedy Trial: Time: Pleadings. Excludable periods attributable to pre-trial motions such as motions to suppress, motions to quash, demurrers, pleas in abatement, and motions for change of venue begin on the date of filing and end on the date of final disposition of the motions.

         6. Speedy Trial: Time: Pretrial Procedure: Motions for Continuance. Continuances of pretrial conferences are excludable from the speedy trial clock from the original date of the pretrial conference to the newly scheduled pretrial conference date.

         [298 Neb. 157] 7. Trial: Motions for Continuance: Time. An indefinite continuance of trial runs from the day of the motion until either the defendant's notice of a request for trial or the date set for trial by the court's own motion.

         8. Motions for Continuance: Time. Any motion to continue that fails to set forth at the outset a definite length of time is indefinite.

         9. Appeal and Error. When an issue is raised for the first time in an appellate court, it will be disregarded inasmuch as a lower court cannot commit error in resolving an issue never presented and submitted to it for disposition.

         Appeals from the District Court for Saunders County: Mary C. Gilbride, Judge. Affirmed.

          Jennifer D. Joakim for appellant Gerard Bridgeford. Mark A. Steele, of Steele Law Office, for appellant

          Judith Bridgeford. Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Siobhan E. Duffy for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ.

          WRIGHT, J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         The defendants in these consolidated appeals assert that the district court erred in denying their motions for absolute discharge. The district court determined that under the plain language of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 29-1207(4)(b) (Reissue 2016), the defendants had permanently waived their statutory speedy trial right by requesting continuances that resulted in moving their trial dates from a date within the statutory 6-month period to a date outside the statutory 6-month period. The defendants dispute the court's reading of § 29-1207(4)(b) and argue that the permanent waiver set forth therein does not apply because they requested continuances for a definite rather than an indefinite period of time. They also argue that they should not be [298 Neb. 158] deemed to have permanently waived their statutory right to a speedy trial when the requested continuances were reasonable and not motivated by gamesmanship.

         BACKGROUND

         Gerard Bridgeford and Judith Bridgeford were charged on June 3, 2014, with several crimes. Gerard was charged with 10 counts of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver and 5 counts of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver to minors. Judith was charged with 10 counts of aiding and abetting possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and 5 counts of aiding and abetting possession of marijuana with intent to deliver to minors.

         Their trials were set for September 24, 2014. On August 14, Gerard filed a motion to continue his scheduled trial. On August 15, the court granted Gerard's motion to continue. The court set a new date of September 22 for Gerard's status hearing and set the jury trial for October 15.

         Judith similarly moved for a continuance on August 18, 2014, which the court granted that same date. The court set the new date for Judith's status hearing for September 29. The court did not set a new trial date at that time.

         On September 17, 2014, Gerard moved to continue his status hearing from September 22 to September 29. The court granted the motion.

         At Judith's status hearing on September 29, 2014, the court granted Judith's motion to remove her case from the trial docket. She explained that she intended to file a motion to ...


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