19 F.3d 569 (11th Cir. 1994), 91-5330, United States v. Quiala

Docket Nº:91-5330.
Citation:19 F.3d 569
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Wilberto QUIALA, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:April 21, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 569

19 F.3d 569 (11th Cir. 1994)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Wilberto QUIALA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 91-5330.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 21, 1994

Yolanda Morales, Kathleen A. Hamilton, Coconut Grove, FL, for defendant-appellant.

Linda Collins Hertz, Alice Ann Burns, Edward Ryan, Asst. U.S. Attys., Miami, FL, for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before BLACK, Circuit Judge, and DYER and SMITH [*], Senior Circuit Judges.

DYER, Senior Circuit Judge:

Quiala appeals the denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment on double jeopardy grounds. Following the district court's sua sponte declaration of a mistrial in Quiala's first trial, Quiala was retried and convicted of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute at least one kilogram of cocaine on board a vessel, in violation of 46 U.S.C.App. Sec. 1903(a), (g), and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2. Because we find that the retrial of Quiala violated his rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause,

Page 570

Quiala's conviction is reversed and his sentence vacated.


Quiala's first trial on cocaine charges began on July 16, 1990 in Key West, Florida. The captain of a freighter and the crew members, including Quiala, were tried together. The freighter had 3,000 pounds of cocaine concealed in a hidden compartment.

Quiala's trial was bifurcated on July 6, 1990, as a compromise solution offered by the district court upon Quiala's request for a mistrial in the form of severance from his nine codefendants. Quiala had sought severance on the ground that he wished to reveal, through the testimony of Special Agent Haynes in the government's case-in-chief, his original post-arrest statements which would have implicated his codefendants. The district court permitted Quiala to offer his proffered evidence in a bifurcated trial following the return of the jury's verdicts as to the nine codefendants. Quiala again moved for severance and the impaneling of a new jury to consider his case based upon the alleged cumulative prejudice that he claimed had resulted from codefendants' closing arguments. The district court denied the motion.

On July 23, the jury completed its deliberations as to Quiala's codefendants and returned guilty verdicts as to all nine. Quiala's bifurcated trial continued for the remainder of that day, with closing arguments scheduled for the next morning.

Quiala's counsel, Diane Ward, did not appear in court the next morning at 9:30 a.m. when the trial was scheduled to begin. Ms. Ward and court personnel had left Key West for the night of July 23, with plans to return from Miami in the morning. Mechanical difficulties on the airplane leaving Miami for Key West at approximately 8:20 a.m. delayed the scheduled travel to Key West of Ms. Ward, as well as the courtroom deputy, the court reporter and the interpreter.

The problem of the flight's mechanical difficulties which caused the delay was communicated by the courtroom deputy to the judge's secretary. She also left a message on an answering machine at the judge's Key West office. The judge's staff and Ms. Ward took the next available flight, and arrived in Key West at 10:30 a.m. on July 24.

At approximately 10:20 a.m., the district court declared a mistrial based upon defense counsel's failure to appear. The court noted that the earliest that counsel could get to court from the airport was 11:20 or 11:30 a.m., approximately one hour later.

A second trial on the charges against Quiala was scheduled for January 15, 1991. Quiala filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on January 14, 1991, based on double jeopardy grounds. The district court denied the motion. On January 18, Quiala was...

To continue reading