United States v. Loud Hawk

Decision Date21 January 1986
Docket NumberNo. 84-1361,84-1361
Citation106 S.Ct. 648,88 L.Ed.2d 640,474 U.S. 302
PartiesUNITED STATES, Petitioner, v. Kenneth Moses LOUD HAWK et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus

Respondents were arrested and indicted in November 1975 on counts of possessing firearms and dynamite. In March 1976, the Federal District Court granted respondents' motion to suppress evidence relating to the dynamite counts, and the Government promptly filed a notice of appeal and requested a continuance. The District Court denied this request and, when the Government answered "not ready" after the case was called for trial, dismissed the indictment. The Government appealed this dismissal, and the two appeals were consolidated. In August 1979, the Court of Appeals reversed the suppression order, ordered that the dynamite counts be reinstated, and held that the District Court erred in dismissing the firearms counts. In November 1979, respondents filed a petition for certiorari, which this Court denied. The Court of Appeals' mandate issued in March 1980, 46 months after the Government filed its notice of appeal from the dismissal of the indictment, during which time respondents were unconditionally released. On remand, the District Court ordered the Government to reindict on the firearms charges. In August 1980, the District Court granted a motion to dismiss on the ground of vindictive prosecution as to one respondent but denied it as to the other respondents, and both the Government and these respondents appealed. During these appeals, respondents remained free on their own recognizance. In July 1982, the Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal as to the one respondent and dismissed the appeals of the other respondents, and in October 1982 denied respondents' petitions for a rehearing. Respondents then filed a petition for certiorari, which this Court denied. The Court of Appeals' mandate issued in January 1983. In May 1983, the District Court again dismissed the indictment, ruling that respondents' Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial had been violated. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held:

1. The time during which the indictment was dismissed and respondents were free of all restrictions on their liberty should be excluded from the length of delay considered under the Speedy Trial Clause of the Sixth Amendment. United States v. MacDonald, 456 U.S. 1, 102 S.Ct. 1497, 71 L.Ed.2d 696. Pp. 310-312.

(a) Where no indictment is outstanding, it is only the actual restraints imposed by arrest and holding to answer a criminal charge that engages the protection of the Speedy Trial Clause. Here, respondents were not incarcerated and were not subject to bail, and further judicial proceedings would have been necessary to subject them to any actual restraints. Pp. 310-311.

(b) The fact that the Government's desire to prosecute respondents was a matter of public record was insufficient to count the time in question toward a speedy trial claim. Nor does the fact that respondents were ordered to appear at the evidentiary hearing held on remand in the District Court during the first appeal constitute the sort of "actual restraint" required for application of the Speedy Trial Clause. And respondents' necessity to obtain counsel while their case was technically dismissed was not sufficient to trigger that Clause. Pp. 311-312.

2. The delay attributable to the interlocutory appeals does not weigh effectively towards respondents' claim under the Speedy Trial Clause. Under the balancing test of Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101, courts must accommodate the competing concerns of orderly appellate review and a speedy trial. Pp. 312-317.

(a) Three of the factors under Barker —the length of delay, the extent to which respondents have asserted their speedy trial rights, and the prejudice to respondents—fail to support a finding of a violation of the Speedy Trial Clause. Pp. 314-315.

(b) The remaining Barker factor, the reason for the delay, also fails to carry respondents' claims. The Government's first interlocutory appeal was justified where the Government could not have otherwise presented the issue relating to exclusion of the evidence on the dynamite counts, and the Government's appeal on this issue was strong. Similarly, the Government's second interlocutory appeal was justified because the Government could not have otherwise proceeded against the one respondent against whom the indictment was dismissed, and here too the Government's position was strong. Pp. 315-316.

(c) The delay from respondents' interlocutory appeals does not count toward their speedy trial claims. A defendant bears the heavy burden of showing an unreasonable delay caused by the prosecution in that appeal or a wholly unjustified delay by the appellate court. Pp. 316-317.

3. On the facts, the delays in question were not sufficiently long to justify dismissal of the case against respondents because of an alleged violation of the Speedy Trial Clause. P. 317.

741 F.2d 1184 (CA9 1984), reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 317.

Bruce N. Kuhlik, for petitioner.

Kenneth Saul Stern, Milwaukie, Or., for respondents.

Justice POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case we must decide, first, whether the Speedy Trial Clause of the Sixth Amendment 1 applies to time during which respondents were neither under indictment nor subjected to any official restraint, and, second, whether certain delays occasioned by interlocutory appeals were properly weighed in assessing respondents' right to a speedy trial. A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit weighed most of the 90 months from the time of respondents' arrests and initial indictment in November 1975 until the District Court's dismissal of the indictment in May 1983 towards respondents' claims under the Speedy Trial Clause. We conclude that the time that no indictment was outstanding against respondents should not weigh towards respondents' speedy trial claims. We also find that in this case the delay attributable to interlocutory appeals by the Government and respondents does not establish a violation of the Speedy Trial Clause. Accordingly, we reverse the holding of the Court of Appeals that respondents were denied their right to a speedy trial.

I

In view of the nature of respondents' claim, we state the factual and procedural history of this case in some detail. On November 14, 1975, pursuant to a tip from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oregon state troopers stopped two vehicles in search of several federal fugitives.2 After an exchange of gunfire and a motor chase, State Troopers captured all but one of the respondents, Dennis Banks.3 Both vehicles were locked and impounded while federal and state authorities obtained search warrants.

Searches of the vehicles over the next two days disclosed 350 pounds of dynamite,4 6 partially assembled time bombs 2,600 rounds of ammunition, 150 blasting caps, 9 empty hand grenades, and miscellaneous firearms.5 Oregon law enforcement officers, apparently unaware of the evidentiary consequences, adhered to their usual policy and destroyed the dynamite. A federal agent present at the destruction photographed the explosions. United States v. Loud Hawk, 628 F.2d 1139, 1142 (CA9 1979). State officials also preserved wrappers from the dynamite casings.

A federal grand jury indicted respondents on November 25, 1975, on charges of possessing firearms and explosives. Trial in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon was set for the week of February 9, 1976. On December 22, 1975, a grand jury returned a five-count superseding indictment. This indictment charged all respondents with three counts relating to possession and transportation in commerce of an unregistered destructive device (the dynamite counts) and two counts relating to unlawful possession of firearms (the firearms counts).

Two days later, respondents filed a motion to suppress all evidence concerning the dynamite, arguing that federal and state officials had intentionally and negligently destroyed the dynamite before the defense had the opportunity to examine it. After initially denying respondents' motion,6 and after two continuances at respondents' behest,7 the District Court granted respondents' motion to suppress on March 31, 1976. App. to Pet. for Cert. 157a. Three weeks later, the Government appealed the suppression order,8 and moved that trial on all counts be continued pending the outcome of the appeal. The District Court denied the Government's request for a continuance, and when the case was called for trial, the Government answered "not ready." Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(b), the District Judge dismissed the indictment with prejudice. Six months had passed since the original indictment.

The Government immediately appealed the dismissal, and the two appeals were consolidated. The Court of Appeals heard argument on October 15, 1976, and a divided panel affirmed in an unreported opinion on July 26, 1977. App. to Pet. for Cert. 88a-118a. On the Government's motion, the court voted on October 17, 1977, to hear the case en banc. On March 6, 1978, the Court of Appeals en banc remanded for findings of fact on whether federal officials participated in the destruction of the dynamite and whether respondents were prejudiced by its destruction. The court retained jurisdiction over the appeal pending the District Court's findings. The District Court issued its findings on August 23, 1978, and the case returned to the Court of Appeals.

On August 7, 1979, the Court of Appeals reversed the suppression order and directed that the dynamite counts be reinstated. United States v....

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