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United States v. Strength

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

June 12, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SUSIE MICHELLE STRENGTH

OPINION AND ORDER

MYRON H. THOMPSON, District Judge.

This case is before the court on defendant Susie Michelle Strength's motion to continue. The government does not oppose the request. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that jury selection and trial, now set for June 30, 2014, should be continued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7).

While the granting of a continuance is left to the sound discretion of the trial judge, United States v. Stitzer , 785 F.2d 1506, 1516 (11th Cir. 1986), the court is limited by the requirements of the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161. The Act provides in part:

"In any case in which a plea of not guilty is entered, the trial of a defendant charged in an information or indictment with the commission of an offense shall commence within seventy days from the filing date (and making public) of the information or indictment, or from the date the defendant has appeared before a judicial officer of the court in which such charge is pending, whichever date last occurs."

18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). The Act excludes from the 70-day period any continuance based on "findings that the ends of justice served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial." § 3161(h)(7)(A). In granting a continuance, the court may consider, among other factors, whether the failure to grant the continuance would "result in a miscarriage of justice, " § 3161(h)(7)(B)(i), or "[w]hether the case is so unusual or so complex... that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation" without granting a continuance. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii).

The court concludes that, in this case, the ends of justice served by granting a continuance outweigh the interest of the public and Strength in a speedy trial. Strength seeks additional time in order to secure records that are relevant and material to her decision of whether to plead guilty in this case. The additional time does not burden her liberty interests as she is currently on supervised release and undergoing substance-abuse and mental-health treatments. Given these circumstances, a continuance in this matter is appropriate.

* * *

Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:

(1) The motion to continue filed by defendant Susie Michelle Strength (doc. no. 13) is granted.
(2) The jury selection and trial for defendant Strength, now set for June 30, 2014, is reset for July 28, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., in Courtroom 2FMJ of the Frank M. Johnson Jr. United States Courthouse Complex, One Church Street, Montgomery, Alabama.
(3) The trial of this criminal case will not be continued again.

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