In a new case the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, State v. Lionel Gonzales, No. PD-1313-13, held that the Defendant’s Speedy Trial Right was violated when he was arrested on a charge of injury to a child 6 years after his indictment. The Court found that the delay was presumptively prejudicial to him, and that the State could not show that his ability to defend himself properly after that amount of delay was not impaired. This case and other Speedy Trial cases stem from a U.S. Supreme Court case, Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, from 1971. In that case the Supreme Court analyzed cases with long delay from the charges until the proceeding in court. The Court used a number of factors, and weighed them in favor, or against, the Defendant and the State. A lengthy delay leads to “presumptive prejudice” that requires the State to rebut. One of the presumptions from a lengthy delay is an impairment in the ability to defend oneself from the charges.
I won a case on the right to a Speedy Trial in the Supreme Court of New Mexico: Zurla v. State, 789 Pacific Reporter, 2d 588. That case involved a charge of shoplifting that was not pursued in court for 19 months. The Defendant, Mr. Zurla, showed that he lost the ability to find two potentially helpful witnesses because of the delay. The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed that Mr. Zurla’s presumed prejudice was not countered by the State. As a result, they held that his case should be dismissed. I wrote the appeal for the New Mexico Public Defender and Mr. Zurla’s case was dismissed.