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United States v. Worthy

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

November 7, 2014

UNITED STATES, Appellee,
v.
HASAN WORTHY, Defendant, Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE. Hon. D. Brock Hornby, U.S. District Judge.

Michael J. Sheehan, for appellant.

René e M. Bunker, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Thomas E. Delahanty II, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Stahl and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 43

STAHL, Circuit Judge.

After the indictment against him was dismissed without prejudice for a Speedy Trial Act violation, Defendant-Appellant Hasan Worthy ultimately was convicted of various offenses arising out of his participation in a drug conspiracy. As the government conceded a breach of 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1), requiring a criminal defendant to be brought to trial within seventy days of the filing of an indictment, the statutory issue on appeal is limited to whether the district court chose the appropriate remedy for the violation. We are further asked to decide whether the district court properly determined that Worthy had not been deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Finding

Page 44

no abuse of discretion on either point, we affirm.

I. Facts & Background

As Worthy raises solely speedy-trial claims on appeal and does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, we recite only the procedural history of the case.

An initial criminal complaint issued against Worthy on August 6, 2010, charging him with participation in a conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, an offense which carries a maximum penalty of twenty years' imprisonment. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C). The first indictment issued on August 17, 2010. Over the next fourteen months, the government brought four superseding indictments against him. For the most part, the superseding indictments added new counts or additional codefendants, though the third superseding indictment in certain counts changed the type of substance involved (from cocaine base to cocaine), and in some instances, the quantities at issue.

The parties engaged in extensive motion practice. Worthy moved to dismiss the first, second, and fourth superseding indictments, arguing that each was untimely under the provision of the Speedy Trial Act requiring an indictment to be filed within thirty days of the initial arrest. See 18 U.S.C. § 3161(b). While questioning " the need for this succession of charging documents," the district court denied the motions, finding no statutory violation.

Five days before jury empanelment was set to begin, Worthy moved to dismiss the fourth superseding indictment again, asserting -- for the first time -- impermissible trial delay, in violation of both the Sixth Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act's seventy-day indictment-to-trial clock.[1] See 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). By that point, all of Worthy's codefendants already had pleaded guilty. However, because it was awaiting the presentence report of one codefendant, Dereck Berryan, the court deferred formal acceptance of Berryan's plea agreement. The clerk's office thus had automatically stopped the statutory speedy-trial clock as to both Berryan and Worthy, pursuant to the exclusion under 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)(G) for " delay resulting from consideration by the court of a proposed plea agreement to be entered into by the defendant and the attorney for the Government." Resolution of Worthy's motion turned on whether time that was excludable from Berryan's clock under § 3161(h)(1)(G) also could be discounted from Worthy's ...


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