State v. Holtslander, 13264

Decision Date05 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 13264,13264
Citation629 P.2d 702,102 Idaho 306
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Lloyd Ernest HOLTSLANDER, Defendant-Respondent.
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

David H. Leroy, Atty. Gen., Lynn E. Thomas, Howard Carsman, Deputy Attys. Gen., Boise, for plaintiff-appellant.

Klaus Wiebe, Ada County Public Defender, Thomas R. Morden, Boise, for defendant-respondent.


This is an appeal by the State of Idaho from a district court's granting of defendant's Motion to Dismiss the charge of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, marijuana, in violation of I.C. § 37-2732. The Motion to Dismiss was granted on the ground that the defendant was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial. We reverse and remand.

An undercover detective alleges that on April 26, 1977, that the defendant was introduced to him as "Lloyd" at Harry's Tavern in Boise. From Harry's Tavern, the detective accompanied the defendant to an apartment where the defendant allegedly sold him marijuana. Following standard undercover procedure, the detective did not ask the defendant for his last name.

On July 20, 1977, a criminal complaint was filed charging "JOHN DOE AKA LLOYD, a white male adult" with delivery of a controlled substance pursuant to I.C. § 37-2732. After securing a warrant for defendant's arrest, the detective made several unsuccessful attempts to locate the defendant or obtain his last name including attempting to contact his roommate, returning four or five times to the apartment where the alleged sale occurred, and checking with the power and phone companies. Although the detective saw the defendant driving around town at various times, he was unable to stop him to execute the warrant.

Being unable to locate the defendant, the detective, whose normal duties did not include serving warrants, turned the warrant over to the warrant division of the sheriff's office. In April 1978, approximately nine months after the filing of the complaint, the detective recognized and arrested the defendant.

During the twelve months between the date of the alleged sale and defendant's arrest, defendant lived in Ada County but moved four times. Defendant testified that from April through July, 1977, he lived at 655 White Cloud Drive # 1, Boise, the scene of the alleged sale. Furthermore, the defendant testified that he was continuously present in Ada County during this entire period with the exception of four or five days during the Christmas vacation. During this twelve-month period, defendant received three traffic citations, spending a night in jail for one of them.

On June 19, 1978, Holtslander appeared before a magistrate for preliminary hearing and was bound over to district court. Following three continuances granted to provide Holtslander more time to obtain private counsel, trial date was set for October 27, 1978. The trial was continued until December 8, 1978, due to conflicts in the court's schedule and lack of contact between defendant and his counsel. On November 29, 1978, defendant moved to dismiss on the ground that his right to a speedy trial had been violated by the nine-month delay between the filing of the complaint and his arrest. His motion was heard on December 18, 1978, and granted by a memorandum opinion of the district court filed December 21, 1978. The State of Idaho appeals and the only question presented is whether defendant-respondent was deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy trial by the nine-month delay between the filing of the complaint and his arrest.

Idaho's Constitution, art. 1, § 13, provides in part:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the party accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial; * * * " 1

This Court in State v. Lindsay, 96 Idaho 474, 475, 531 P.2d 236, 237 (1975) stated:

"The right of speedy trial as guaranteed by a state constitution or statute cannot be said to be necessarily identical to that right to speedy trial guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. We find, however, that the 'balancing test' laid down in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972) is consistent with decisions of this court stating that whether one has been deprived of his right to a speedy trial must be decided by reference to considerations in addition to the mere passage of time. Hadlock v. State, 93 Idaho 915, 478 P.2d 295 (1970); Ellenwood v. Cramer, 75 Idaho 338, 272 P.2d 702 (1954).

"In Barker, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that speedy trial cases must be dealt with on an ad hoc basis, held that a balancing test was the appropriate method to approach speedy trial questions and set forth four factors 2 determinative of whether a speedy trial had been denied. Those factors were length of delay, reasons for the delay, the accused's assertion of his right, and prejudice to the accused occasioned by the delay. It was also stated in Barker that the length of delay is said to be a 'triggering mechanism' for the invocation of judicial scrutiny."


In Barker, supra 407 U.S. at 530-31, 92 S.Ct. at 2192, 33 L.Ed.2d at 117, the U.S. Supreme Court stated:

"The length of the delay is to some extent a triggering mechanism. Until there is some delay which is presumptively prejudicial, there is no necessity for inquiry into the other factors that go into the balance. Nevertheless, because of the imprecision of the right to speedy trial, the length of delay that will provoke such an inquiry is necessarily dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the case. To take but one example, the delay that can be tolerated for an ordinary street crime is considerably less than for a serious, complex conspiracy charge." (footnote omitted).

It is apparent that length of delay serves a dual role in the analysis of the right to a speedy trial. First, the length of delay is used as a screening device to dispose summarily of frivolous claims. Second, the length of delay is one of the factors to be considered when the balancing process has been triggered by a delay that causes actual prejudice or is long enough to be presumptively prejudicial.

The initial question in analyzing length of delay for either of its roles is how to measure the delay. Both the U.S. and the Idaho Constitutions indicate that the right of speedy trial arises for an "accused." U.S. Const. amend. VI, Sixth Amendment; Idaho Constitution, art. 1, § 13; United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 92 S.Ct. 455, 30 L.Ed.2d 468 (1971). The U.S. Supreme Court in Marion, supra, focused its attention on the use of the word "accused" as used in the Sixth Amendment. The Court stated:

"(I)t is either a formal indictment or information or else the actual restraints imposed by arrest and holding to answer a criminal charge that engage the particular protections of the speedy trial provision of the Sixth Amendment." Id. at 320, 92 S.Ct. at 463, 30 L.Ed.2d at 479.

Although the language quoted above appears straight forward enough, courts have disagreed over its exact meaning. This language may reflect only a dissimilarity in language between jurisdictions. But the phrase "holding to answer" is generally accepted to refer in a technical sense to the decision of a magistrate to bind a defendant over for trial following a preliminary hearing. People v. Hannon, 19 Cal.3d 588, 138 Cal.Rptr. 885, 564 P.2d 1203 (1977). Therefore, the U.S. Supreme Court may have been holding that the filing of a complaint is by itself insufficient to trigger the protection of the right to a speedy trial under the federal constitution.

It is an elemental principle of our system of federalism that ultimate responsibility for interpretation of the federal constitution rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, the holding in Marion delineating the scope of protection afforded by the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of the right to a speedy trial is binding on this Court as it is on all other state and federal courts of this nation. However, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Marion did not, and indeed could not, determine the constitutional requirements of the right to a speedy trial guaranteed by the Idaho Constitution.

This Court has held that the Idaho speedy trial constitutional protection is not "necessarily identical to that right guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States" and comes into play no later than the time at which the complaint is filed, herein July 20, 1977. State v. Lindsay, supra, 96 Idaho at 475, 531 P.2d at 237. Therefore, accusation for the Idaho speedy trial constitutional provision occurs either when formal charges are filed or when the defendant is arrested, whichever occurs first. See State v. Lindsay, supra; State v. Wilbanks, 95 Idaho 346, 509 P.2d 331 (1973); Jacobson v. Winter, 91 Idaho 11, 415 P.2d 297 (1966). 3

Although Lindsay, supra, indicates that the period of delay starts with accusation and ends with trial, it does not clarify how defense-caused delay should be used in the calculation of length of delay. In the case at bar, the trial court held that defendant's motion was based solely on the approximately nine-month delay between the complaint and arrest. The pre-accusatory delay and the delay following arrest were not asserted by defendant as an infringement of his rights or relied upon by the trial court as a basis of its opinion. The post-arrest delay was primarily a function of four continuances. The first three continuances were granted to defendant so that he could obtain private counsel. The fourth continuance was granted due to conflicts in the court's schedule and to provide defendant time to confer with his counsel.

The exclusion of defense-caused delay may have the advantage of making the balancing test less complex by reducing the amount of information to be considered. But it also has the disadvantage of shortening the length of delay and, therefore, weakening the presumption of prejudice for the triggering mechanism. The greater the...

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