State v. Hines

Decision Date22 January 1975
Docket NumberNo. 56726,56726
Citation225 N.W.2d 156
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Robert Lewis HINES, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Mike Christensen, Des Moines, and Michael J. Laughlin, Urbandale, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Dorothy L. Kelley, Asst. Atty. Gen., Ray A. Fenton, County Atty., and Harold Young, Asst. County Atty., for appellee.

Considered en banc.


This appeal presents the issue whether the State's failure to provide sufficient jurors for trial of a criminal case furnishes 'good cause' for not trying the defendant within the 60-day limitation mandated by § 795.2, The Code.

April 4, 1973, defendant was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance, a violation of § 204.401(1), The Code.

April 5, 1973, defendant was taken before magistrate, pled not guilty and posted bail.

June 27, 1973, a county attorney's information was filed.

August 21, 1973, State filed motion for continuance.

August 29, 1973, defendant filed resistance based in part on his § 795.2 speedy trial rights and demanded dismissal of the case. The court granted continuance after hearing.

September 7, 1973, defendant filed motion to dismiss, amended on September 10, based on §§ 795.1 and 795.2, The Code.

September 10, 1973, defendant's motion to dismiss was denied and trial commenced.

September 11, 1973, a verdict of guilty was returned.

September 12, 1973, defendant was sentenced to five years in men's reformatory under § 204.401(1) and the indeterminate sentence law.

I. Speedy indictment issue.

Defendant claims his motion to dismiss should have been granted because he was not indicted within the 30-day period prescribed by § 795.1, The Code.

Defendant neither had nor waived a preliminary hearing. Therefore under the majority opinions in State v. Morningstar, 207 N.W.2d 772, 775 (Iowa 1973) and State v. Mays, 204 N.W.2d 862, 866 (Iowa 1973) he was never 'held to answer.' Consequently, the 30-day speedy indictment requirement of § 795.1, The Code, was never triggered. Our holding in the next division makes further discussion of this issue unnecessary.

II. Speedy trial issue.

Defendant assigns as error trial court's refusal to sustain his pre-trial motion to dismiss based upon the speedy trial provisions of § 795.2, The Code:

'If a defendant indicted for a public offense, whose trial has not been postponed upon his application, be not brought to trial within sixty days after the indictment is found, the court must order it to be dismissed, unless good cause to the contrary be shown. * * *'

No one argues § 795.2 is not applicable to the situation before us. The mandatory trial period provided by this statute is activated by county attorney's information as well as by indictment. See § 769.13, The Code; State v. Bledsoe, 200 N.W.2d 529, 530 (Iowa 1972).

It must also be conceded the 60-day trial deadline was breached. As indicated above, county attorney's information against this defendant was filed June 27, 1973. Trial commenced September 10, 1973.

Here the 15-day delay beyond the statutory period resulted from a continuance granted the State over defendant's resistance. The continuance was requested on the 55th day after the information was filed and was granted on the 63rd day because no jurors were 'available' to try the case.

This case was initially set for trial August 22, 1973, a date which would have satisfied the § 795.2 requirement. But on August 20, 1973 a court order discharged the jury panel from further service for the term because an insufficient number of jurors were present for the trial of cases.

In Polk county, petit jury panels are drawn 'six times annually to serve for the following two months.' Section 609.19, The Code. Individual jurors may be discharged from the panel after serving in two or more trials. Id. Although the record is silent, it is possible a sufficient number of jurors had been discharged from service by August 20 to deplete the panel below a required number.

If this was the reason, it readily could have been avoided. Section 609.19 grants a district court judge power to require the drawing of a new panel before expiration of the two-month term. The same statute permits additional jurors to be added to the panel as needed. In addition, additional petit jurors may be ordered drawn for any trial calendar assignment or for the trial of any case under § 609.36, or a new panel may be drawn at any time under § 609.37.

Our consideration must start from the premise defendant had no duty to bring himself to trial. State v. Shockey, 214 N.W.2d 146, 150 (Iowa 1974). Society has a particular interest in bringing swift prosecutions, and society's representatives are the ones who should protect that interest. State v. Gorham, 206 N.W.2d 908, 911 (Iowa 1973). It is the State's duty to effectuate the statute requiring trial within 60 days, absent good cause. State v. Jennings, 195 N.W.2d 351, 356 (Iowa 1972).

Here the State asserts failure to provide a trial jury is but one facet of 'court congestion,' and therefore meets the statutory 'good cause' exception to the speedy trial requirement of § 795.2, at least where the delay is not long.

Non-chronic 'court congestion,' arising out of unique, non-recurring events and resulting in only a short delay may constitute 'good cause' satisfying the § 795.2 exception. See State v. Jennings, 195 N.W.2d 351, 356 (Iowa 1972); State v. Alvarez, 189 Neb. 281, 202 N.W.2d 604 (1972); ABA Standards, Speedy Trial, Approved Draft § 2.3(b), pp. 27--28. But nowhere do we find persuasive authority indicating a court congestion 'good cause' may arise from the State's deliberate election to ignore all of several plain and well-known statutory procedures for providing a jury to try a defendant.

While cases from Washington state are superficially helpful to the prosecution in the case Sub judice, a closer reading discloses Washington, unlike Iowa, has never elevated its speedy trial statute to an important role or viewed it as a limitation statute. See State v. Nelson, 222 N.W.2d 445 (Iowa 1974). Of major significance in this difference in approach is the fact that in Washington a statutory speedy trial dismissal in a felony case does not bar a subsequent prosecution for the same crime. R.C.W. 10.43.010; see State v. McEvers, 76 Wash.2d 34, 36, 454 P.2d 832, 833 (1969) ('This statute serves little purpose in felony cases since, after a dismissal, the state may immediately file a new information charging the same or a related offense.'); State v. Falter, 6 Wash.App. 665, 666, 495 P.2d 694, 695 (1972); compare with State v. Johnson, 217 N.W.2d 609, 612 (Iowa 1974) ('Application of the reprosecution language of section 795.5 to any dismissal under section 795.2 would drain that statutory enactment of its force and effectiveness in protecting the accused's right to a speedy trial.')

The State does not contend an adequate jury panel could not have been readily obtained, on short notice, from Polk county's 286,000 population. Under these circumstances, we are unimpressed that the 60-day limitation was exceeded by only 15 days. A similar De minimus approach to a § 795.1 violation of only six days was laid to rest in State v. Nelson, supra:

'Every limitation statute sets up an arbitrary date after which certain actions cannot be brought or certain rights cannot be enforced. One cannot escape the effect of such statutes by showing they were only violated a little bit. The statute prescribes the only way in which its impact may be avoided--by a showing of good cause.'

The same rationale must be applied to a violation of § 795.2, The Code.

We hold here, as we held in Nelson, supra, there was no basis upon which trial court could find the State had carried its burden to show good cause existed. State v. Bowers, 162 N.W.2d 484, 487 (Iowa 1968). The consequence must be absolute discharge. State v. Johnson, 217 N.W.2d 609 (Iowa 1974).

III. The State's motion for continuance was filed on a Tuesday, August 21, 1973, the day before trial was scheduled. What happened on the next day, August 22, is not disclosed, but defendant's statement in his resistance to the motion that he was willing and able to try the case on that date stands uncontroverted.

On Friday, August 24, 1973, trial court by written order assigned State's motion for continuance for hearing on August 29, 1973. The clerk's transcript indicates a copy of this order was mailed defense counsel on Monday, August 27. Certainly he should not be faulted for filing his resistance on August 29.

Defendant's resistance plainly raised the speedy trial issue:

'The fact that the State was remissed (sic) and late in scheduling this trial before the jury should not waive or impair the Defendant's rights for a speedy trial and the Defendant feels that to continue this matter into the next jury term cannot in good faith be justified under the rules set down in Morningstar, supra.'

The resistance prayed,

'WHEREFORE, the Defendant respectfully pray (sic) that the State's motion for a continuance to the next jury term be denied and that this case be dismissed to this defendant.'

The gist of defendant's position was clear, even though his reliance on State v. Morningstar, supra, as an authority was misplaced.

The State was not confused, for we find in its brief, page 23, the following concession:

'Although the appellant did assert his right to a speedy trial by resisting the State's Motion for Continuance, no prejudice was alleged or can be found in the Record.'

The speedy trial issue was thus squarely presented to and adversely determined by trial court on the 63rd day after the information was filed and 12 days before trial commenced.

Three days before trial, defendant again filed a motion to dismiss. Defense counsel inadvertently omitted the speedy trial issue from the motion, but it clearly was included in the supporting brief filed with the motion in district court the same day:...

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