U.S. v. Moscatiello

Citation771 F.2d 589
Decision Date31 October 1985
Docket Number84-1262 and 84-1263,84-1193,Nos. 84-1192,s. 84-1192
Parties19 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 379 UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Christopher MOSCATIELLO, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. John M. ROONEY, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. James D. CARTER, Defendant, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Michael F. MURRAY, Defendant, Appellant.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)

Daniel J. O'Connell, Boston, Mass., with whom Eileen D. Vodoklys, Framingham, Mass., was on brief for defendant, appellant Christopher Moscatiello.

Martin G. Weinberg, Boston, Mass., with whom Kimberly Homan and Oteri, Weinberg & Lawson, Boston, Mass., were on brief for defendant, appellant John M. Rooney.

Marshall D. Stein, Boston, Mass., with whom Cherwin & Glickman, Brian J. McMenimen and Gargiulo & McMenimen, Boston, Mass., were on brief for defendant, appellant James D. Carter.

A. Raymond Randolph, Washington, D.C., with whom Christopher L. Varner, Washington, D.C., was on brief for defendant, appellant Michael F. Murray.

Gary C. Crossen, Asst. U.S. Atty., Boston, Mass., with whom William F. Weld, U.S. Atty., Boston, Mass., was on brief for appellee.

Before CAMPBELL, Chief Judge, BREYER, Circuit Judge, and WEIGEL, * Senior District Judge.


Defendants appeal from criminal convictions on drug charges.

During the first part of 1983, federal agents received information implicating defendants-appellants John M. Rooney, Christopher Moscatiello, James D. Carter, and Michael F. Murray, as well as Arthur Barrett and Stephen King, in a conspiracy to possess and distribute illegal drugs. That information was corroborated by information received from law enforcement officials in the Boston area and by spot surveillance conducted by federal agents from the summer of 1982 to April 1983. On April 6, 1983 agents concluded from the pattern of vehicular activity that defendants were observed to engage in that a sale of drugs was imminent. Accordingly, they arrested them on the afternoon of April 6 and conducted searches of a green Dodge camper, a white Ford truck, a garage at 15 Sylvester Road, Dorchester, Massachusetts, and a warehouse at 345 D Street, South Boston, Massachusetts. All four searches uncovered large amounts of baled marijuana.

Moscatiello, Rooney, Carter, Murray, and Barrett were charged two weeks later in a five-count indictment for various drug violations. Counts I and III charged Murray, Carter, Rooney, and Barrett with possessing and conspiring to possess more than one thousand pounds of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(a)(1), 841(b)(6), 846. Counts II and IV charged Murray, Carter, King, and Moscatiello with separate counts of possession and conspiracy in violation of the same provisions of the United States Code. Murray and Carter were charged in Count V with yet another count of conspiracy in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 846. In a superseding indictment, Murray's brother Joseph was added to all five counts.

Appellants moved to suppress the evidence seized in the vehicular and building searches. These motions were denied in a memorandum dated December 23, 1983. Trial was set for January 23, 1984. On that date, appellants joined in a motion to dismiss for violation of the Speedy Trial Act. The court, after a preliminary review of the motion and with acquiescence of counsel, reserved its ruling and directed the parties to proceed to trial; the court denied the motion on February 10, 1984. On January 23, Rooney and Moscatiello entered conditional pleas of guilty to count IV, reserving their objections to the court's rulings on the two motions. The other two appellants, Murray and Carter, were found guilty of counts I and II, respectively, after a jury trial.

All four appellants appeal from the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss for violation of the Speedy Trial Act, as well as from the court's refusal to suppress the seized evidence. We affirm.

I. The Speedy Trial Act

The Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3161 et seq., provides that the trials of defendants who plead not guilty shall commence within 70 days of their indictment. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3161(c). In computing the seventy-day period, the Act provides for certain exclusions as follows:

(h) The following periods of delay shall be excluded in computing the time within which an information or an indictment must be filed, or in computing the time within which the trial of any such offense must commence:

(1) Any period of delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the defendant, including but not limited to--

* * *

(F) delay resulting from any pretrial motion, from the filing of the motion through the conclusion of the hearing on, or other prompt disposition of, such motion;

* * *

(J) delay reasonably attributable to any period, not to exceed thirty days, during which any proceeding concerning the defendant is actually under advisement by the court.

* * *

(8)(A) Any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by any judge on his own motion or at the request of the defendant or his counsel or at the request of the attorney for the Government, if the judge granted such continuance on the basis of his findings that the ends of justice served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial. No such period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by the court in accordance with this paragraph shall be excludable under this subsection unless the court sets forth, in the record of the case, either orally or in writing, its reasons for finding that the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.

18 U.S.C. Sec. 3161.

Defendants were indicted on April 20, 1983. Trial began on January 23, 1984, some 278 days later. The parties are in agreement that 173 of those days are clearly excludable, leaving an excess of 35 days over the permitted 70.

The period whose excludability remains in controversy runs from October 17 to December 23, 1983. On October 17, the district court completed hearings on the several motions to suppress filed by the defendants on May 9 and took them under advisement. The court decided these motions on December 23, 1983. Also pending before the court on October 17 were motions for severance, for orders in limine, for election of counts, and for controlling the sequence of the government's presentation of evidence, all of which were also filed on May 9; no hearing was held on these latter motions, which were not decided until on or after December 23, 1983.

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3161(h)(1)(J), the district court excluded the 30 days between October 17 and November 16 as time during which the motions to suppress "were actually under advisement by the court." Appellants object on the ground that the court made no showing that it was actually considering the motions on every one of the excluded 30 days.

Arguing that such a showing is necessary for an exclusion under Sec. 3161(h)(1)(J), appellants direct our attention to the report of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accompanying the Senate version of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974. The Committee amended the bill to exclude time "reasonably attributable to delays during which a matter is actually under advisement," S.Rep. No. 1021, 93d Cong., 2d Sess. (1974), reprinted in A. Partridge, Legislative History of Title I of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, at 104 (1980), in response to a suggestion by the Justice Department that the committee resolve an ambiguity in the bill's original language as to the time covered by the exclusion for a "proceeding concerning the defendant." The Committee report cautioned that the Committee did not intend

"in adopting this amendment to give a blanket exception to matters under advisement[,] for the time excluded must be 'reasonably attributable' and the matter must be 'actually under advisement.' Therefore, the judge must be actually considering the question, for example, conducting the research on a novel legal question."


Appellants would have us conclude from this that, absent precise judicial findings showing that the court had actually spent each of the days sought to be excluded working on a motion, the exclusion is not allowable.

Like the Eleventh Circuit, we are not persuaded by this argument. See United States v. Mers, 701 F.2d 1321, 1338-39 (11th Cir.) cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 481, 78 L.Ed.2d 679 (1983). The "actually under advisement" language in the statute, and the phraseology of the Committee report, do not specify that, in addition to having a matter under advisement, the court must demonstrate that it was working on it each of the days sought to be excluded. Such a requirement would be unprecedented and impracticable. It is, moreover, belied by other parts of the legislative history. The language of the Senate bill was amended before passage by the House of Representatives, which added the phrase, "not to exceed thirty days" to Sec. 3161(h)(1)(J). According to the report prepared by the House Committee on the Judiciary,

[t]he amendment was adopted at the suggestion of Detroit defense attorney Mr. Barris, who said:

Now, I think the language which is now contained within the bill is that a reasonable time should be allowed when a matter is held under advisement by the district judge. This, of course, is a very flexible term, term "reasonable," and I would suggest that a period of 30 days after all oral argument is heard and all briefs have been submitted on the matter under advisement is not an unreasonable period in which the district judge could act, I do not think that this would compel the judge to reach on any particular issue an...

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