Hottle v. Dist. Court in & for Clinton Cnty., 46289.

Citation233 Iowa 904,11 N.W.2d 30
Decision Date21 September 1943
Docket NumberNo. 46289.,46289.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

233 Iowa 904
11 N.W.2d 30


No. 46289.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Sept. 21, 1943.

Certiorari to District Court, Clinton County; George Claussen, Judge.

Certiorari to review ruling of the trial court overruling motions to dismiss indictments.

Writ annulled.

[11 N.W.2d 31]

Smith, Swift & Maloney and G. W. Vander Vennet, all of Davenport, for petitioner.

John M. Rankin, Atty. Gen., Don Hise, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Carroll Johnson, Co. Atty., of Clinton, for respondent.

MULRONEY, Chief Justice.

The rulings of the trial court upon three motions to dismiss indictments, which are brought here for review in this action in certiorari, present the following question under section 14024, Code of 1939: Should an indictment against a defendant be dismissed because defendant was not brought to trial at the next regular term of court even though it is shown that the defendant has been, since said indictment, and is now, in the state penitentiary serving a sentence for another crime? The trial court held it should not and overruled the motions to dismiss the indictments. This is a case of first impression in Iowa, though the question has been frequently decided by the courts of other states.

I. It is first argued that because the defendant has never been arrested upon the warrant issued under the indictment he cannot, under the doctrine of State v. Judkins, 200 Iowa 1234, 206 N.W. 119, move to dismiss the indictment as the court does not obtain any jurisdiction until such arrest.

Section 14024, Code 1939, provides as follows: “If a defendant indicted for a public offense, whose trial has not been postponed upon his application, be not brought to trial at the next regular term of the court in which the indictment is triable after the same is found, the court must order it to be dismissed, unless good cause to the contrary be shown.”

In the recent case of Pines v. District Court in and for Woodbury County, Iowa, 10 N.W.2d 574, 578, decided July 27, 1943, this court speaking through Justice Bliss held that such a statute as section 14024 “is a statutory definition of the term ‘speedy trial’ as conceived by the particular legislature enacting it, with the purpose in mind of more effectively enforcing the constitutional guaranty. [Citing cases.]”

[11 N.W.2d 32]

The constitutional guaranty is contained in section 10 article I of the Iowa Constitution, providing: “In all criminal prosecutions *** the accused shall have a right to a speedy and public trial ***.”

In the Judkins case the defendant, who was in a penitentiary, appeared by counsel who filed a motion to quash an indictment for various grounds, among them being the ground that the grand jury that returned the indictment was illegally drawn because two grand jurors were from the same civil township. The trial court took cognizance of the motion, heard testimony, and entered an order setting aside the indictment on the ground the grand jury was not legally constituted. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court the case was affirmed upon the ground that the trial court could make such an order if in any manner it is brought to the notice of the trial court that the grand jury was not legally constituted. In the course of the opinion Justice Evans pointed out that the motion purporting to be filed on behalf of the defendant was unauthorized and nugatory for [200 Iowa 1234, 206 N.W. 120]: “No right of attack upon the indictment prior to defendant's arrest thereunder is conferred by the statute. *** Nor is there any basis for the court's jurisdiction over the person of the defendant in a criminal prosecution, except pursuant to warrant and an arrest thereunder.” The court further stated: “We hold therefore that the district court had no jurisdiction in this case over the person of the defendant, notwithstanding the appearance of counsel for him.” It was only because the court could dismiss the indictment on its own motion that the ruling of the trial court was affirmed. Of course the quoted statements and others of like effect in the Judkins case are dicta for the court did affirm the action of the trial court in dismissing the indictments.

But the motions in the instant case can be distinguished from the motion in the Judkins case. There the defendant was attacking the indictment. Jurisdiction over his person would perhaps be necessary for, as the court pointed out: “Under the statute the court upon quashing an indictment, may order the case resubmitted to another grand jury, and may hold the defendant pending such resubmission.” Here, there was no attack on the indictment. There could be no resubmission to a subsequent grand jury if the motions were sustained and the indictments dismissed. See Smith v. State, 168 Tenn. 265, 77 S.W.2d 450. The defendant here, by his motions, is seeking the constitutional protection. As we have previously pointed out, the statute merely defines the term “speedy trial” as used in the constitution. The motion in the instant case is directed to the prosecution under a legal indictment wherein the movant asserts his constitutional right has been denied him. Judkins was asserting the indictment was defective. If he was correct, then he was never legally indicted. Since he had never been arrested, he was not in a position to assert the defect in the indictment. Here the “accused” in a legal prosecution for crime is asserting his constitutional rights of “speedy trial” have been invaded. No case has been brought to our attention where any court has held the constitutional right...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT