United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
Michael F. Urbanski, Chief United States District Judge.
matter comes before the court on defendant Chandler's
Emergency Motion for a Seven (7) Day Abeyance of Start of
Trial After Jury Selection / Swearing In (the
"Motion"), ECF No. 872. The defendants ask the court
to enter an order granting a continuance of the beginning of
the trial for seven days following the selection and swearing
in of the jury. For the reasons stated below, the court will
DENY the Motion.
28 ("Interview 1"), October 27 ("Interview
2"), and November 1, 2017 ("Interview 3"),
detectives with the Danville Police Department
("DPD") interviewed DaShawn Anthony, a defendant in
the related trial United States v. Anthony,
4:18-cr-12, while he was incarcerated in Caswell County,
North Carolina, pending unrelated criminal charges there.
Written reports of Interviews 1, 2, and 3 were provided by
the government to the defendants on October 2, 2018 and video
copies of Interviews 2 and 3 were provided to defendants on
August 2, 2018. With respect to the video of Interview 1, as
of October 4, 2019, the government told defendants that it
did not have a working copy of the video and that any such
copies provided to the DPD or the government were corrupted.
October 5, 2019, the government informed defendants that it
was able to recover a working copy of the video of Interview
1 and provided copies to defendants shortly thereafter.
Defendant Chandler filed the Motion on October 6, 2019,
seeking to continue to die trial for seven days. The court
held a preliminary hearing on the Motion on October 7, 2019,
and on October 8, 2019, the government filed the United
States' Response to Defendants' Motions to Suspend
Trial, ECF No. 891. On October 9, 2019, defendant Chandler
filed a reply memorandum in support of the Motion (die
"Reply Memorandum"), ECF No. 896.
or not to grant a continuance in a trial is left to the
discretion of the court. See Morris v. Slappy. 461
U.S. 1, 11-12 (1983) ("[B]road discretion must be
granted trial courts on matters of continuances; only an
unreasoning and arbitrary insistence upon expeditiousness in
the face of a justifiable request for delay violates the
[Sixth Amendment].") (internal quotation marks omitted).
The Supreme Court noted that such "broad discretion must
be granted" to district courts because "[t]rial
judges necessarily require a great deal of latitude in
scheduling trials." Id. at 11. "The
district court's denial of a continuance is reviewed for
abuse of discretion." United States v. Jones,
408 Fed.Appx. 748, 751 (4th Cir. 2011)) (citing United
States v. Williams, 445 F.3d 724, 738-39 (4th Cir.
2006)). "[E]ven if such an abuse is found, the defendant
must show that the error specifically prejudiced [his] case
in order to prevail." United States v.
Hedgepeth, 418 F.3d 411, 419 (4th Cir. 2005): United
States v. Lawrence, 161 F.3d 250, 254 (4th Cir. 1998)
("A district court is entitled to broad discretion with
respect to a decision to deny a continuance. Furthermore,
absent a presumption of prejudice, specific errors must be
shown which undermine confidence in the outcome of the trial
to constitute reversible error.").
argue that the court should delay the start of the trial an
additional seven days because the video of Interview 1
contains new, relevant evidence that needs to be
investigated. As outlined in the defendants' brief,
defendants contend that there are material differences
between the statements and allegations made during Interview
1 and Interviews 2 and 3. Defendants believe that they need
the additional time to investigate the details surrounding
such statements and allegations made by Mr. Anthony. Without
the additional time, defendants argue, they will be unable to
be fully prepared for trial.
response, the government asserts that the video of Interview
1 does not contain any material information that has not
previously been disclosed to defendants. The government
further contends that defendants will suffer no prejudice
because defendants have, at a minimum, ten days between the
disclosure of the video of Interview 1 and defendants'
opening statements, and over a month between the disclosure
of the video of Interview 1 and the beginning of the
court, having reviewed the parties' briefs, the entirety
of the videos of Interviews 1, 2, and 3, and the written
summaries of Interviews 1, 2, and 3, concludes that the
defendants will have sufficient time to investigate any
details or information provided in the video of Interview 1.
Although the court acknowledges that some of the statements
made in Interview 1 differ from Interviews 2 and 3, the court
concludes that a minimum of forty days is sufficient time for
defendants to investigate any variations in Mr. Anthony's
statements and be prepared to present their case in chief.
The court also notes that Mr. Anthony does not appear on
either the government's or defendants' witness list
for this trial and that the government will not introduce the
video of Interview 1 into evidence.
the court finds that denying the defendants' Motion
serves the ends of justice and the defendants will suffer no
appropriate Order ...