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United States v. Hutchinson

United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Eastern Division

October 30, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOSHUA HENRY HUTCHINSON

OPINION AND ORDER

MYRON H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This cause is before the court on defendant Joshua Henry Hutchinson’s motion to continue. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that jury selection and trial, now set for December 1, 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 the continuance "would deny counsel for the defendant ... 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 Hutchinson in a speedy trial. Hutchinson represents that he requested and awaits the arrival of documents pertaining to his service in the United States military and that these documents will show the nature of his entry into the military following conviction of a felony. He asserts that these documents may provide the basis for a defense theory as well as pretrial motions. The court sees no evidence that Hutchinson has not been diligent in this matter. A continuance is warranted to enable Hutchinson the opportunity to obtain the documents and fully pursue this potential line of defense. This court’s decision to grant a continuance is buttressed by the fact that the government does not oppose the continuance.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:

(1) Defendant Joshua Henry Hutchinson’s motion for continuance (doc. no. 17) is granted.
(2) The jury selection and trial, now set for December 1, 2014, are reset for March 23, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., in the G.W. Andrews Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, 701 Avenue A, Opelika, Alabama.

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