United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Eastern Division
February 19, 2015
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OPINION AND ORDER
MYRON H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
This cause is before the court on defendant Ladonna Conley’s motion to continue. The government does not oppose the motion. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that jury selection and trial, now set for March 23, 2015, 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 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.” § 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 Conley in a speedy trial. Conley’s counsel represents that he needs additional time to prepare Conley for trial. Until recently, Conley has been in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons in Texas for a psychological evaluation, which has limited defense counsel’s access to his client. Moreover, Conley is currently in plea negotiations with the government, and defense counsel requests additional time to ensure that Conley’s decisions regarding those negotiations are sound. Therefore, the court has been given reasonable cause to believe that a continuance is warranted to enable Conley’s counsel to fully and adequately advise his client.
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Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
(1) Defendant Ladonna Conley’s motion for continuance (doc. no. 119) is granted.
(2) The jury selection and trial, now set for March 23, 2015, are reset for August 31, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., at the G.W. Andrews Federal Building and Courthouse, 701 Avenue A, Opelika, Alabama.