State v. Crandle

Decision Date06 May 2022
Docket NumberCR-20-0148
PartiesState of Alabama v. Gregory Labarron Crandle
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals

Appeal from Mobile Circuit Court (CC-17-3052)

On Return to Remand

McCOOL, Judge.

The State of Alabama appeals the Mobile Circuit Court's order granting Gregory Labarron Crandle's motion to dismiss the case against him.

Facts and Procedural History

On October 7, 2020, Crandle filed a motion to dismiss based on the State's alleged violation of his right to a speedy trial and failure to afford him due process of law. In his motion, Crandle alleged that he was arrested on September 20 2016, for the offense of second-degree assault and that he was subsequently indicted in June 2017, for second-degree assault. Crandle alleged that his right to a speedy trial under Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), had been violated because, he says: he had been confined in the Mobile Metro Jail or with the Alabama Department of Mental Health for the entirety of the four years since his arrest; that he had requested several times that the court require the charges to be either adjudicated or dismissed; and that witnesses had disappeared and evidence had been lost, which would require him to "experience unfair prejudice having to defend himself on [a] charge" relating to an incident that occurred more than four years ago. (C. 5-6.)

The State filed a response to Crandle's motion to dismiss. In its response, the State conceded that four years had passed since the arrest warrant had been issued against Crandle and thus, that the length of the delay was presumptively prejudicial and triggered the examination of the remaining Barker factors. The State further claimed that the delay was partially a negligent delay - i.e., the one-year gap between Crandle's arrest and the indictment was the result of an overburdened judicial system - and partially a justified delay - i.e., multiple delays caused by Crandle's decision to seek youthful-offender status followed by a request for a competency evaluation in a capital-murder case against him, and Crandle's request for postponement of the prosecution for his second-degree-assault offense. The State also argued that Crandle failed to assert his right to a speedy trial until October 2020 and, thus, that the third Barker factor weighed against Crandle. The State claimed that Crandle's allegation that he was prejudiced by the delay was insufficient to show that the delay violated his rights.

Following a hearing on the matter, the circuit court issued a written order granting Crandle's motion to dismiss the second-degree-assault charge. The State appealed the circuit court's dismissal of the charge against Crandle.

On appeal, the State argued, in part, that the circuit court erred by improperly granting Crandle's motion to dismiss without considering the Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S 514 (1972), factors. This Court agreed, stating:

"This Court has previously held that, where the record does not affirmatively indicate that the trial court weighed each of the Barker factors, a remand is necessary for the circuit court 'to make specific, written findings of fact as to each Barker factor with reference to the principles set forth by the Alabama Supreme Court in Ex parte Walker, [928 So.2d 259 (Ala. 2005)].' State v. Robinson, 79 So.3d 686 (Ala.Crim.App.2011). See also State v. Tolliver, 171 So.3d 94 (Ala.Crim.App.2014); Murray v. State, 12 So.3d 150 (Ala.Crim.App.2007); Peterson v. State, 12 So.3d 154 (Ala.Crim.App.2007); State v. Stovall, 947 So.2d 1149 (Ala.Crim.App.2006).
"In the present case, the record does not affirmatively show that the circuit court weighed each of the factors as required by Barker, supra, and Ex parte Walker, supra. Here, the court held a hearing on Crandle's motion to dismiss; however, no evidence was presented and neither party presented arguments. Although the circuit court acknowledged at the hearing that Crandle had been in jail for 'more than four years,' the court stated that it was dismissing the instant case because Crandle was currently in jail awaiting commitment to the Department of Mental Health due to 'mental infirmity,' and that, if Crandle ever regained competency, he would still be incarcerated and face trial for a capital-murder charge. (R.3-4.) It is unclear how the fact that Crandle will face another charge if he regains his mental competency relates to any of the Barker factors in the present case. The circuit court's written order stated only that Crandle's motion to dismiss was granted, over the objection of the State. The record, therefore, is devoid of any indication of the circuit court's findings on the Barker factors. Consequently, the record before this Court is devoid of sufficient information to address the State's claim regarding whether the court's ruling on Crandle's motion to dismiss for violation of his right to a speedy trial was proper."

State v. Crandle, [Ms. CR-20-0148, October 8, 2021] __So. 3D__, __ (Ala.Crim.App.2021). We remanded this case for the circuit court to make specific written findings of fact as to each Barker factor.

On remand, the circuit court followed this Court's instructions and issued a lengthy, detailed order, in which it explained its findings as to each Barker factor. Specifically, the court noted that the State had conceded that the length of the delay was presumptively prejudicial and found that the length of the delay -- over four years -- triggered the requirement to balance the remaining Barker factors. Next, the court found that "because the State was focused entirely on [Crandle's] murder charge, the record of delay as to the assault second charge is at the least negligent delay, and th[e] negligent delay weighs against the State." (Record on Return to Remand, 16.) As to the third Barker factor concerning Crandle's assertion of his right to a speedy trial, the court found that the factor did not weigh in favor of either party because the facts in this case "balance" each other out. Id. Specifically, the court stated that Crandle's failure to assert his right to a speedy trial sooner suggests he either acquiesced to the delay or suffered minimal prejudice, but the court also noted that Crandle was being held in prison without bond on his capital-murder case, that he had been found to be of low intelligence and had been diagnosed with "mild mental retardation," and that his mental competency issue had prevented him from going to trial. However, the court found that the State had also notably failed to pursue the second-degree-assault case. Lastly, the court determined that Crandle had suffered "oppressive pre-trial confinement." (Record on Return to Remand, 17.) For those reasons, the court stated, it granted Crandle's motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial.

Discussion

Both parties submitted supplemental briefs for this Court to consider on return to remand. In its supplemental brief, the State now argues that, although four years passed between Crandle's arrest for second-degree assault and the date on which the circuit court initially summarily dismissed the case against him, the length of the delay was not presumptively prejudicial because, the State says, a large portion of the delay was not occasioned by the State. Thus, the State claims, "because the 'length of delay' factor in this case was not presumptively prejudicial, Crandle's denial of speedy trial claim was due to fail without reference to the other three Barker factors." (State's Supplemental Brief, at 15.) The State further claims that, even if the delay had been presumptively prejudicial, Crandle still should not have prevailed on his speedy-trial claim because: 1) the reasons for the delay were attributable to Crandle; 2) Crandle failed to assert his right to a speedy trial in a timely manner; and 3) Crandle failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the delay.

"This Court generally reviews the denial of a habeas petition under an abuse-of-discretion standard." Shelly v. Alabama Dep't of Corr., 109 So.3d 1145, 1147 (Ala.Crim.App.2012) (citing Miller v. State, 668 So.2d 912, 917 (Ala.Crim.App.1995)). However, where this Court's review involves only an issue of law and the application of the law to undisputed facts, our review is de novo. Ex parte Walker, 928 So.2d 259 (Ala. 2005)("Walker's case involves only issues of law and the application of the law to the undisputed facts. Thus, our review is de novo.").

In Ex parte Walker, 928 So.2d 259 (Ala. 2005), the Alabama Supreme Court explained:

"An accused's right to a speedy trial is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Art. I, § 6, of the Alabama Constitution, 1901. As noted, an evaluation of an accused's speedy-trial claim requires us to balance the four factors the United States Supreme Court set forth in Barker: '[l]ength of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant's assertion of [her] right, and prejudice to the defendant.' 407 U.S. at 530, 92 S.Ct. 2182 (footnote omitted). See also Ex parte Carrell, 565 So.2d [104, ] 105 [(Ala. 1990)]. 'A single factor is not necessarily determinative, because this is a "balancing test, in which the conduct of both the prosecution and the defense are weighed."' Ex parte Clopton, 656 So.2d at 1245 (quoting Barker, 407 U.S. at 530, 92 S.Ct. 2182)."

928 So.2d at 263.

A.

Concerning the first Barker factor, the length of delay, the Alabama Supreme Court has explained:

"In Doggett v. United States, the United States Supreme Court explained that the first factor-length of delay-'is actually a double enquiry.' 505 U.S. 647 651, 112 S.Ct. 2686, 120 L.Ed.2d 520 (1992). The first inquiry under this factor is whether the length of the delay is '"presumptively prejudicial."' 505 U.S. at 652, 112
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