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United States v. Blas Sanchez

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JORGE ALBERTO BLAS SANCHEZ

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The government has moved to dismiss the Complaint in this matter without prejudice. See Doc. #40. The Court directed counsel for the defendant to file a response to this motion [Doc. #41]; in his response, defendant seeks dismissal with prejudice. See Doc. #42.

         Defendant argues that the Complaint should be dismissed with prejudice because “the crime is not of a serious nature.” Doc. #42 at 1. Further, defendant argues, the government failed to file any Indictment in this matter for a period far exceeding the 30-day limitation of the Speedy Trial Act, asserting that the government has provided no sufficient “explanation for its apparent negligence in failing to indict the defendant within a reasonable time, let alone the required thirty (30) day period.” Id. at 1-2.

         The government filed a Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Dismiss Criminal Complaint Without Prejudice in reply to defendant's response to the motion to dismiss. [Doc. #44]. In that reply, the government asserts that because defendant waived Speedy Trial time through and including June 12, 2018, there has been no Speedy Trial violation and, thus, the standards of 18 U.S.C. §3162(a)(1) are inapplicable to a determination of whether this matter should be dismissed with, or without, prejudice. See Id. at 1. Instead, the government seeks dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(a). See id.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A review of the procedural history is warranted in light of defendant's response to the government's motion to dismiss. On December 18, 2017, defendant filed a motion to continue the preliminary hearing scheduled for December 22, 2017, on the grounds that he needed additional time to “review discovery” and to “investigate various matters” before making a decision as to how to proceed. Doc. #11 at 1, 2. Defendant also filed a written waiver entitled “WAIVER OF SPEEDY TRIAL, RETURN OF INDICTMENT WITHIN 30 DAYS, AND IMMEDIATE PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING” on December 18, 2017. Doc. #12 at 1. In that document, defendant asserted that he “understands that by signing this waiver, he will be giving up the rights accorded to him by the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §3161 ... including his right to indictment within 30 days” and other rights. Id. That waiver extended to January 15, 2018. See Id. at 2. The Court made express findings on December 20, 2017, that “a continuance of these deadlines is in the best interest of the defendant; that he knows his rights under the relevant rules and statutes; that the interest of the public in a speedy trial is outweighed by the parties' interest in a continuance in this matter; and that a continuance of both deadlines is in the interest of justice.” Doc. #15.

         On December 22, 2017, the Court conducted a presentment and detention hearing in this matter. See Doc. #17. During that hearing, the parties discussed whether further continuance of the preliminary hearing to a date in February 2018 was appropriate. Defense counsel indicated that he had discussed that issue with the defendant, and that the defendant consented to a further continuance. The Court advised the defendant, on the record, of his rights under the Speedy Trial Act to be charged within 30 days of his arrest, and the defendant waived that right through and including February 28, 2018.

         On February 20, 2018, the defendant filed a further motion to continue the preliminary hearing, asserting that he needed additional time to “meet with his attorney and investigate pre-indictment resolution of this case.” Doc. #22 at 1-2. Defendant also filed a written waiver entitled “WAIVER OF SPEEDY TRIAL, RETURN OF INDICTMENT WITHIN 30 DAYS, AND IMMEDIATE PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING” on February 20, 2018. Doc. #23 at 1. In that document, defendant requested “the exclusion [of a period of time through April 15, 2018, ] from the speedy trial calculations ... including his right to indictment within 30 days[.]” Id. (emphasis in original). He further asserted that he “understands that by signing this waiver, he will be giving up the rights accorded to him by the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §3161 ... including his right to indictment within 30 days” and other rights. Id. That waiver extended to April 15, 2018. See Id. at 2. The Court made express findings on February 20, 2018, that “a continuance of these deadlines is in the best interest of the defendant; that he knows his rights under the relevant rules and statutes; that the interest of the public in a speedy trial is outweighed by the parties' interest in a continuance in this matter; and that a continuance of both deadlines is in the interest of justice.” Doc. #24.

         On April 4, 2018, the defendant filed a third motion to continue the preliminary hearing, asserting that he needed additional time to “meet with his attorney and investigate pre-indictment resolution of this case.” Doc. #29 at 2. The motion further asserted that defense counsel “has a firm trial date of May 9” in another matter, “which is an additional reason for the length of the requested continuance[.]” Id. at 2. Accompanying the motion was a written waiver entitled “WAIVER OF SPEEDY TRIAL, RETURN OF INDICTMENT WITHIN 30 DAYS, AND IMMEDIATE PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING.” Doc. #29-1 at 1. In that document, defendant requested exclusion of “a period of time until June 3, 2018, ” from the Speedy Trial calculations. Id. at 2. He further asserted that he “understands that by signing this waiver, he will be giving up the rights accorded to him by the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §3161 ... including his right to indictment within 30 days” and other rights. Id. at 1. The Court made express findings on April 4, 2018, that “a continuance of these deadlines is in the best interest of the defendant; that he knows his rights under the relevant rules and statutes; that the interest of the public in a speedy trial is outweighed by the parties' interest in a continuance in this matter; and that a continuance of both deadlines is in the interest of justice.” Doc. #30. The Court then reset the preliminary hearing to May 30, 2018. See Doc. #32.

         On May 18, 2018, defense counsel filed a Motion to Withdraw as Attorney. [Doc. #33]. On May 21, 2018, the Court scheduled a hearing on that motion for May 24, 2018. [Doc. #34]. In the calendar for that hearing, the Court advised: “Both parties should be prepared to discuss the preliminary hearing set for May 30, 2018, in light of the Court's prior order indicating that further extensions of that deadline will not be granted.” Id. On May 22, 2018, the Court entered a Calendar converting the May 24, 2018, motion hearing from an in-person proceeding, to a telephonic proceeding. [Doc. #35]. During the May 24, 2018, telephonic motion hearing, in which the defendant also personally participated, the Court canvassed defendant on his concerns about Attorney Urso's representation, which did not relate to the quality or content of Attorney Urso's advice. See Doc. #36. Defendant expressed his willingness to continue with Attorney Urso as his counsel. As a result, the Court terminated defense counsel's motion to withdraw. See id.

         During that proceeding, the Court also discussed, on the record, the impending May 30, 2018, preliminary hearing deadline. See Id. The Court memorialized those discussions in an Order entered on May 24, 2018:

No Indictment or Information has been filed in this matter. The parties represented that they require an additional brief continuance to attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The Court granted the parties' motion for a continuance to and including June 13, 2018.

         The Court explained to Mr. Sanchez the deadlines set forth in both 18 U.S.C. §3161(b), requiring that an indictment or information be filed within 30 days of a defendant's arrest, and Rule 5.1(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, requiring that a preliminary hearing be held within 21 days of the initial appearance of a defendant who is released on bond. The defendant had previously filed a written waiver of his right to a hearing through and including June 3, 2018. See Doc. #27-1. The defendant, after being advised of his rights, and with the assistance of counsel, consented to a further continuance to and including June 13, 2018. The Court concludes that a continuance of these deadlines is in the best interest of the defendant; that he knows his rights under the relevant rules and statutes; that the interest of the public in a speedy trial is outweighed by the parties' interest in a continuance in this matter; and that a continuance of both deadlines is in the interest of justice. The preliminary hearing previously scheduled in this matter for May 30, 2018, is hereby continued to June 12, 2018. A separate calendar will enter. The time from May 30, 2018, through and including June 12, 2018, is hereby excluded from the calculation of the deadlines set forth in 18 U.S.C. §3161(b) and Rule 5.1(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

         The June 12, 2018, hearing will go forward, and the defendant's presence will be required, regardless of the developments in this matter between now and then. If the defendant has been indicted, the hearing will be an arraignment. If he has reached an agreement with the government, the hearing will be a waiver of ...


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