State v. Pachay

Decision Date23 December 1980
Docket NumberNo. 80-393,80-393
Citation416 N.E.2d 589,64 Ohio St.2d 218,18 O.O.3d 427
Parties, 18 O.O.3d 427 The STATE of Ohio, Appellant, v. PACHAY, Appellee.
CourtOhio Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

The statutory speedy trial provisions, R.C. 2945.71 et seq., constitute a rational effort to enforce the constitutional right to a public speedy trial of an accused charged with the commission of a felony or a misdemeanor and shall be strictly enforced by the courts of this state.

On November 1, 1978, the appellee, James M. Pachay, was arrested on a warrant issued by the Juvenile Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Lake County charging him with non-support in violation of R.C. 2919.21, a misdemeanor of the first degree. The appellee appeared for arraignment, entered a plea of not guilty and was released on bond. On March 14, 1979, 134 days after his arrest, the appellee moved for a dismissal under the provisions of R.C. 2945.71 et seq. The appellant, state of Ohio, conceded that the appellee was not brought to trial within the time limits of R.C. 2945.71 but contested the motion to dismiss on the sole ground that R.C. 2945.71, 2945.72 and 2945.73 are invalid as an unconstitutional legislative usurpation of the judicial power. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss and ordered the appellee discharged.

The state appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the trial court.

The cause is now before this court upon the allowance of a motion for leave to appeal.

John E. Shoop, Pros. Atty., and Joseph M. Gurley, Painesville, for appellant.

Marvin R. Plasco and Samuel Militello, Mentar, for appellee.

DOWD, Justice.

This cause presents the question of whether this court should invalidate the speedy trial statutes, R.C. 2945.71 et seq., 1 as a usurpation of judicial power in contravention of the Ohio Constitution. 2 The inquiry is appropriate. It is prompted by our holdings in previous cases where attempts by the General Assembly to dictate judicial action within a specified time were struck down or ignored as legislative invasions of judicial power. See James v. West (1902), 67 Ohio St. 28, 65 N.E. 156; Schario v. State (1922), 105 Ohio St. 535, 138 N.E. 63; State ex rel. Ticknor v. Randall (1949), 152 Ohio St. 129, 87 N.E.2d 340; Kyes v. Pennsylvania R.R. Co. (1952), 158 Ohio St. 362, 109 N.E.2d 503; State ex rel. Turrin v. County Court (1966), 5 Ohio St.2d 194, 214 N.E.2d 670.

The right of an accused to a speedy trial is recognized by the Constitutions of both the United States and the state of Ohio. 3 In Ohio, beginning with the year 1869, this constitutional right, described as of "amorphous quality" in Barker v. Wingo (1972), 407 U.S. 514, 522, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 2187, 33 L.Ed.2d 101, has been the subject of legislative enactment designed to quantify the right to a speedy trial in a more specific time frame. 4 From 1869 to 1974, the statutory speedy trial provisions focused on terms of count and recognized a distinction between the accused held in jail and the accused free on recognizance. 5 This court interpreted and enforced the time limits. See Ex parte McGehan (1872), 22 Ohio St. 442; Erwin v. State (1876), 29 Ohio St. 186; Johnson v. State (1884), 42 Ohio St. 207; State v. Cunningham (1960), 171 Ohio St. 54, 167 N.E.2d 897; State v. Gray (1964), 1 Ohio St.2d 21, 203 N.E.2d 319; State v. Cross (1971), 26 Ohio St. 270, 271 N.E.2d 264.

The new Ohio Criminal Code became effective January 1, 1974. It included a more precise legislative pronouncement with respect to speedy trial provisions. The distinction between an accused in jail and an accused free on recognizance was again recognized by the triple-count provisions of R.C. 2945.71(D). Time limits were fixed in accordance with the severity of the crime charged. An elaborate legislative scheme was devised with respect to exceptions. The interpretation and enforcement of R.C. 2945.71 et seq., as effective January 1, 1974, has been a prolific source of litigation before this court. See, e. g., State v. Pudlock (1975), 44 Ohio St.2d 104, 338 N.E.2d 524; State v. Walker (1976), 46 Ohio St.2d 157, 346 N.E.2d 687; State v. Davis (1976), 46 Ohio St.2d 444, 349 N.E.2d 315; State v. MacDonald (1976), 48 Ohio St.2d 66, 357 N.E.2d 40; State v. Lee (1976), 48 Ohio St.2d 208, 357 N.E.2d 1095; State v. Singer (1977), 50 Ohio St.2d 103, 362 N.E.2d 1216; State v. Tope (1978), 53 Ohio St.2d 250, 374 N.E.2d 152; State v. Pugh (1978), 53 Ohio St.2d 153, 372 N.E.2d 1351; State v. Wentworth (1978), 54 Ohio St.2d 171, 375 N.E.2d 424; State v. McBreen (1978), 54 Ohio St.2d 315, 376 N.E.2d 593; State v. McRae (1978), 55 Ohio St.2d 149, 378 N.E.2d 476; State v. Ladd (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 197, 383 N.E.2d 579; State v. Martin (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 207, 383 N.E.2d 585; Westlake v. Cougill (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 230, 383 N.E.2d 599; State v. Martin (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 289, 384 N.E.2d 239; Elmwood Place v. Denike (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 427, 384 N.E.2d 707; State v. Cutcher (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 383, 384 N.E.2d 275; State v. Siler (1979), 57 Ohio St.2d 1, 384 N.E.2d 710; State v. Montgomery (1980), 61 Ohio St.2d 78, 399 N.E.2d 552; State v. Bauer (1980), 61 Ohio St.2d 83, 399 N.E.2d 555; Aurora v. Patrick (1980), 61 Ohio St.2d 107, 399 N.E.2d 1220; State v. Bonarrigo (1980), 62 Ohio St.2d 7, 402 N.E.2d 530; State v. Reeser (1980), 63 Ohio St.2d 189, 407 N.E.2d 25. See, generally, Comment, An Analysis of the Judicial Interpretation of the 1974 Speedy Trial Act: The First Five Years, 40 Ohio St.L.J. 363.

Throughout the long history of litigation involving application of the speedy trial statutes, this court has repeatedly announced that the trial courts are to strictly enforce the legislative mandates evident in these statutes. State v. Gray, supra; State v. Cross, supra, at page 275, 271 N.E.2d 264; State v. Singer, supra, at page 105, 362 N.E.2d 1216; State v. Tope, supra, at page 252, 374 N.E.2d 152; State v. McBreen, supra, at page 317, 376 N.E.2d 593; State v. Cutcher, supra, at page 384, 384 N.E.2d 275; State v. Pudlock, supra, at page 105, 338 N.E.2d 524; State v. Montgomery, supra, at page 80, 399 N.E.2d 552. This court's announced position of strict enforcement has been grounded in the conclusion that the speedy trial statutes implement the constitutional guarantee of a public speedy trial. State v. Pudlock, supra. Other jurisdictions have treated similar statutory provisions in this manner. 6

Increasing stress upon trial courts with overburdened dockets to meet statutory speedy trial deadlines has prompted a re-examination of the validity of such statutes in the context of the constitutional separation of powers doctrine. Cogent arguments have been presented that such statutes do infringe upon judicial prerogatives and should be declared invalid. See State v. Pugh, supra, at page 155, 372 N.E.2d 1351 (Herbert, J., concurring opinion); United States v. Howard (D.C.Md.1977), 440 F.Supp. 1106; United States v. Martinez (C.A. 2, 1976), 538 F.2d 921. 7

Several recent opinions of this court, inferentially recognize the claim that the General Assembly, by enacting R.C. 2945.71 et seq., has dictated to the judiciary on procedures that are solely within the domain of the judiciary. See State v. Singer, supra, at page 106, 362 N.E.2d 1216; and State v. Ladd, supra, at pages 200-201, 383 N.E.2d 579. 8 Nonetheless, this court has chosen to enforce the mandate of the present speedy trial statutes in the belief that R.C. 2945.71 et seq., as enacted with respect to felonies and misdemeanors, represent a rational effort to enforce the constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial. 9 State v. Singer, supra, page 106, 362 N.E.2d 1216; State v. Tope, supra, page 252, 374 N.E.2d 152; State v. Cutcher, supra, page 384, 384 N.E.2d 275.

Neither the facts in the cause sub judice nor current studies of the disposition of criminal cases by the trial courts of this state 10 suggest that this court should now modify its longstanding commitment to strict enforcement of the speedy trial statutes. However, either a legislative modification of R.C. 2945.71 et seq. shortening the time for trial or repealing existing exceptions to the application of time limits, or demonstrable inability of the trial courts to meet increased burdens, would constitute a basis for further examination of the speedy trial statutes by this court.

Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Judgment affirmed.


CELEBREZZE, C. J., and LOCHER, J., concur in the judgment.

HOLMES, J., dissents.

1 R.C. 2945.71 allows for a specified number of days from arrest to trial, based upon the classification of the crime charged. Each day in jail in lieu of bond is counted as three days. R.C. 2945.72 provides for an extension of the time limits under a variety of circumstances. R.C. 2945.73 mandates discharge when the accused is not timely brought to trial.

2 Section 1, Article 4 of the Ohio Constitution, provides:

"The judicial power of the state is vested in a supreme court, courts of appeals, courts of common pleas and divisions thereof, and such other courts inferior to the supreme court as may from time to time be established by law."

5 On May 6, 1869, the Ohio General Assembly enacted a Code of Criminal Procedure which became effective August 1, 1869. Sections 161, 162 and 163 provided:

"SEC. 161. If any person indicted for any offense and committed to prison, shall not be brought to trial before the end of the second term of the court having jurisdiction of the offense, which shall be held after such indictment is found, he shall be entitled to be discharged, so far as relates to the offense for which he was committed, unless the delay shall happen on the...

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