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United States v. Cornley

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

March 13, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SANDRA CORNLEY, HENRY CORNLEY

OPINION AND ORDER

MYRON H. THOMPSON, District Judge.

This cause is before the court on the government's motion to continue trial. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that the jury selection and trial of both defendants Sandra and Henry Cornley, now set for April 6, 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 interests 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 or the attorney for the Government the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence." § 3161(h)(7)(B)(iv).

In this case, the ends of justice served by granting a continuance outweigh the interest of the public and the Cornleys in a speedy trial. The government has recommended the Cornleys for pretrial diversion, and the pretrial diversion packages have been forwarded to the United States Probation Office, which is in the process of completing the investigation report and recommendation for both defendants. The Cornleys do not object to a continuance. Finally, the government and the Cornleys would be prejudiced severely by the denial of a continuance. Denying pretrial diversion to otherwise eligible defendants would constitute a miscarriage of justice. A continuance is therefore warranted to enable the government time to complete the pretrial-diversion process.

***

Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:

(1) The government's motion for continuance (doc. no. 22) is granted.

(2) The jury selection and trial for defendants Sandra and Henry Cornley, now set for April 6, 2015, are reset for July 27, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., in Courtroom 2FMJ of the Frank M. Johnson Jr. United States Courthouse Complex, One Church Street, Montgomery, Alabama.


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