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United States v. Hunter

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

June 9, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ANTHONY CHARLES HUNTER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RAYMOND A. JACKSON, District Judge.

Before this Court is Defendant Anthony Charles Hunter's Supplemental Motion to Dismiss the Indictment, filed on March 13, 2014. ECF No. 61. The Government filed a Response to that Motion on March 27, 2014, ECF No. 63, and Defendant filed his Reply on March 31, 2014, ECF No. 64. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Supplemental Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY

On February 20, 2008. Defendant was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint charging Defendant with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) and IS U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) related to an armed robbery that occurred in late 2007 in Virginia Beach. Virginia. E.D. Va. Case No. 2:08-cr-60. Defendant appeared before a Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia on February 22, 2008 for detention and preliminary hearings. On March 20, 2008, Defendant was indicted and charged with four counts of Interference with Commerce by Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 and four counts of Brandish, Possess, Use, and Carry Firearms During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), stemming from four armed robberies.

After conducting a hearing on August 12, 2008, the Court entered an Order finding that Defendant "is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect that makes him unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense." The Court remanded Defendant "to the custody of the Attorney General for hospitalization and treatment at a suitable facility, with the purpose of continuing to evaluate his mental competency" pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §4241(d). Case No. 2:08-cr-60, ECF No. 27.

On April 10, 2009, the Court ordered Defendant committed to the custody of the Attorney General for a risk assessment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4246(a). Defendant was hospitalized at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield. Missouri, and after a hearing on September 18, 2009, Defendant was committed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri pursuant to § 4246. Case No. 6:09cv3219. After the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed that order, on February 25, 2010, the Court granted the Government's Motion to Dismiss the Indictment without Prejudice, without objection from Defendant.

Beginning in July 2010, each year that Defendant remained at the Missouri facility a panel convened and issued a Risk Assessment Review Report recommending Defendant's conditional release. It concluded that while Defendant still suffered from a mental disease, his release would not create a substantial risk of danger to others as long as he was released to a group home and continued to receive some care. The Government submitted those reports to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, but no action was taken on the reports, no hearing was held, and Defendant was never released. On September 6, 2011, Defendant filed a pro se habeas petition in the Missouri court requesting his immediate release and discharge. of a constitutional violation, noting that "efforts are ongoing to secure state placement for [Defendant] in his home state of Virginia. To date, suitable slate placement has not been found... [and] no state placement is available that meets the Risk Assessment Panel's recommendation for conditional release." ECF No. 14.

On August 8, 2012, the Government filed an eight-count Indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia against Defendant in the instant case, charging Defendant with committing four armed robberies between September 29 and October 15, 2007, two of which had been previously charged and two of which had not. The Government later added additional violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 in a Superseding Indictment filed on September 20, 2012, charging Defendant with committing five additional robberies between October 9 and October 18, 2007. Defendant was arrested at the Springfield facility and made his initial appearance before a Magistrate Judge on September 20, 2012. The Government moved for a new psychiatric exam on October 10, 2012, which Defendant's counsel opposed. After holding a hearing, the Court granted the motion on November 20, 2012, and ordered that Defendant be committed at Springfield for the purposes of evaluating his competency, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a). The forensic psychological report found that Defendant was malingering and competent, and after holding a competency hearing on June 10, 2013, the Court agreed and set the case for trial on July 23, 2014.

After the competency hearing. Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress, a Motion to Dismiss, and a Notice of Insanity Defense. The Government filed a Motion to Certify the Case as Complex as well as a Motion for a Psychiatric Exam to determine Defendant's mental state at the time of the offense. On July 11, 2013, the Court terminated the scheduled trial date and noted that the case would be rescheduled after resolution of the pending motions. Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss argued that the indictment should be dismissed because his indictment while civilly committed violated his due process, and also because his statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights were violated. This motion became ripe on July 26, 2013, and the Court held a hearing on the motion on July 31, 2013. At the conclusion of that hearing, it ordered additional briefing, which was completed on August 7, 2013. On October 31, 2013, the Court denied the Motion to Dismiss, finding that there was no violation of Defendant's due process of speedy trial rights. Noting its concerns with Defendant's continued civil commitment in light of the periodic reports finding him suitable for release, the Court ordered the Government to request a hearing regarding Defendant's civil commitment in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri within 30 days. A week later, the Court certified the case as complex on November 8, 2013, and ordered the requested psychiatric exam pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241(a) on November 5, 2013.

The events following the Court's October 31, 2013 Order denying first Defendant's Motion to Dismiss arc the focus of the parties' briefings on Defendant's second Motion to Dismiss, which is grounded solely in Defendant's constitutional speedy trial rights. The Government complied with the Court's Order and tiled a Motion to Transfer Defendant on December 2, 2013. Case No. 6:09cv3219 (E.D. Mo., ) ECF No. 24. That motion was granted on December 18, 2013, but Defendant remained incarcerated in this District for approximately three months and did not arrive in Missouri for four months. Following the transfer order, the Government took no action to ensure it was carried out, until it learned on February 26, 2014, that the Defendant was still in custody in this District. Govt. Resp. at 2. According to the Government, it then immediately contacted the United States Marshals. Defendant left the prison in which he was incarcerated on March 13, 2014. On the same day, he filed the Supplemental Motion to Dismiss for violation of his speedy trial rights. ECF No. 61. On March 24, 2014, he was examined at another location within the Eastern District of Virginia to determine his insanity at the time of the offense, but did not submit to the examination. Govt. Resp. at 2-3.

On April 25, 2014, the Government informed the Court that Defendant had arrived at the facility in Missouri on April 17, 2014. On May 28, 2014, the Government further informed the Court that the evaluation had been completed and that the Risk Assessment Panel determined that Defendant did not meet the criteria for civil commitment, and that Defendant would be returned to the Eastern District of Virginia once the Government filed a Motion to Dismiss his civil commitment in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

II. DISCUSSION

The United States Constitution provides that "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial...." U.S. Const. Amend. VI. The United States Supreme Court has rejected a bright line lest to determine whether a defendant's Constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated, and instead has outlined four factors to be weighed in a balancing test. See Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514. 530 (1972). To establish a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial, a defendant must show first that the Amendment's protections have been triggered by "arrest, indictment, or other official accusation." Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647, 655 (1992). "The defendant must then show that on balance, four separate factors weigh in his favor:" (1) "whether the delay before trial was uncommonly long." (2) "whether the government or the defendant is more to blame for that delay, " (3) "whether, in due course, the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial, and" (4) "whether he suffered prejudice" as a result of the delay. United States v. Thomas, 55 F.3d 144, 148-49 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting Doggett, 505 U.S. at 651).

To initiate the required analysis, the Court must first consider whether the length of the delay between the defendant's initial appearance and the trial "has crossed the threshold dividing ordinary from "presumptively prejudicial' delay." Doggett. 505 U.S. at 651-52 (quoting Barker. 407 U.S. at 530). Ordinarily, a delay approaching one year is presumptively prejudicial and will trigger the speedy trial analysis. Id. at 652 n. 1. However, a delay that exceeds one year does not, in itself, necessarily establish a violation of the defendant's rights to a speedy trial. Barker , 407 U.S. at 533-36 (holding that more than a five year delay, while extraordinary, did not violate the defendant's right to a speedy trial). Instead, the Court must "then consider, as one factor among several, the extent to which the delay stretches beyond the bare minimum needed to trigger judicial examination of his claim." Doggett. 505 U.S. at 652. Second, the court must consider the reason for the delay. Barker , 407 U.S. at 531. "Delay to hamper the defense' weighs heavily against the prosecution, " while "delay caused by the defense weighs against the defendant." Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81, 90 (2009) (citing Barker. 407 U.S. at 530). "Official negligence" still weighs against the Government, but "is obviously to be weighed more lightly than a deliberate intent to harm the accused's defense." Doggett, 505 U.S. at 657. Third, the court must consider whether and how Defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial. "Failing to assert the right will make it difficult for a defendant to prove he was denied a speedy trial." Barker , 407 U.S. at 532. The Fourth Circuit has held that asserting this right too late can be held against the defendant. United Stales v. Grimmond, 137 F.3d 823, 829 (4th Cir. 1998) (holding there was no violation of a ...


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