United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MYRON H. THOMPSON, District Judge.
This cause is before the court on defendant Nina Marie Preston's motion to continue. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that jury selection and trial, now set for November 3, 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 interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial." 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A). In granting such a continuance, the court may consider, among other factors, whether the failure to grant such a continuance "would deny counsel for the defendant or the attorney for the Government the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence." 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(iv).
The court concludes that, in this case, the ends of justice served by granting a continuance outweigh the interest of the public and Preston in a speedy trial.
Preston represents that she has submitted to the government a pretrial diversion request and a mental-health evaluation report documenting a history of significant trauma, but that the November 3rd trial date will not afford the government and the U.S. Probation Office sufficient time to complete their respective investigations and recommendations with regard to diversion and sentencing. A continuance to enable full consideration of Preston's request for pretrial diversion and, should diversion be denied, of the evidence Preston has provided in mitigation is warranted.
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Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
(1) Defendant Nina Marie Preston's motion for continuance (doc. no. 16) is granted.
(2) The jury selection and trial, now set for November 3, 2014, are reset for March 9, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., at the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, ...