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Young v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Virginia

July 3, 2019





         Michael Anthony Young appeals from a judgment of the Court of Appeals of Virginia affirming his convictions for grand larceny, in violation of Code § 18.2-95; conspiracy to commit grand larceny, in violation of Code §§ 18.2-22 and 18.2-95; and false identification to a law enforcement officer, in violation of Code § 19.2-82.1. On appeal, Young argues that his right to a speedy trial was violated and that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's denials of his motions to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 25, 2015, Michael Anthony Young was arrested on a charge of having robbed a minor. Young was charged with robbery (Count 1), which was bound over for the grand jury by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on March 2, 2016. The grand jury indicted Young on Count 1 on March 14, 2016. Young was directly indicted on March 14, 2016 for conspiracy to commit robbery, grand larceny, conspiracy to commit a felony, and giving false identification to law enforcement (Counts 2-5). The indictment return order indicated "no bond on all counts." For purposes of speedy trial determinations, Young's period of incarceration began March 2, 2016. Absent any intervening events extending the applicable period, his speedy trial period would expire on August 3, 2016 for Count 1 and August 15 for Counts 2 through 5. Young's jury trial was scheduled for August 1-3, 2016.

         On July 15, 2016, Young filed a motion to dismiss the indictments against him based upon discovery issues with the Commonwealth. Young argued in his motion that he was "forced . . . to choose between his right to a speedy trial and his right to the effective assistance of counsel." The trial court held a hearing on Young's motion to dismiss on July 19. Young made various arguments in support of his motion to dismiss. Among other things, he specifically argued that the indictments should be dismissed due to the Commonwealth's late production of 1005 recorded jail phone calls made by Young which totaled 225 hours in length and the revelation of the existence of a previously undisclosed certificate of analysis from the victim's cell phone. Counsel for Young argued:

I would suggest at the end of the day the Commonwealth has put [Young] in a position, and he has no choices. He can choose to stand on his rights to a speedy trial and go to trial on August 1st and be unprepared and put himself in a position to not be able to redevelop his defense, reinvestigate his case; reconfigure what he is going to do or how he is going to present it; never mind the fact that there is an absolute impossibility at this point in time to listen to all of those recordings; that there is still information that we simply don't know and we don't know if or when we're going to know it; that it could come in tomorrow or a week from tomorrow or the day before trial, and just take his chances in court on a charge that is not insignificant in any way. . . .
Or he can say to the [c]ourt, I need to have this case continued because I want my case to be prepared.

         After the trial court indicated it would take the motion to dismiss under advisement, counsel for Young stated:

if the [c]ourt doesn't grant the motion to dismiss, regardless of whatever other remedies the [c]ourt chooses to fashion or not fashion, [Young's] position is going to be that we're certainly not in a position to go forward with trial on August 1st, regardless of the ways in which the Commonwealth is suggesting that this evidence be limited in some fashion. I don't want to be disingenuous to the [c]ourt and say I'm going to wait for your ruling and then have it and then turn around and come back to this [c]ourt and say, ["]If you're not dismissing this case, then we're now not ready to go forward.["] I do want to be up front with the [c]ourt.

         The trial court scheduled a hearing for July 25 for its ruling on Young's motion to dismiss.

         At the July 25 hearing, the trial court held that it did not "find that this [was] a comprehensive failure to provide discovery." The trial court denied the motion to dismiss but imposed sanctions against the Commonwealth, prohibiting it from relying on the jail phone calls at trial, binding the Commonwealth to a stipulation regarding the certificate of analysis, and ordering it to file supplemental discovery by August 8.

         Despite the sanctions the trial court imposed, Young continued to argue that

we don't feel this should be a situation which Mr. Young has to forfeit his rights to a speedy trial in light of his rights to have the information that he's entitled to, which again, once we move this court date will all but ensure we will be outside the speedy trial time.

         In light of Young's position, a discussion regarding bond ensued. In response to the trial court's statement that "it's a practical concession that bond would need to be granted," Young stated that bond was "not really a solution . . . because he [was] being held on other matters from other jurisdictions. So setting a bond in this case will actually do nothing to provide him any liberty." At the conclusion of the discussion, Young recommended placing the case on the August 15 scheduling docket but stated, "I don't want the [c]ourt to take that as the defense is now agreeing that this, in essence, three-week window would be attributable to Mr. Young because I'm asking to use the 15th." In light of the fact that August 15th was outside the speedy trial window, the Commonwealth offered to try to provide the required responses earlier in order to keep the trial date and keep Young's speedy trial rights intact. ...

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