The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Gould on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioner, a former prison guard, was convicted of two counts of depriving an inmate of his rights under color of law and two counts of filing a false report. These convictions arose out of Petitioner’s use of excessive force against two inmates in two different detention centers, and his subsequent filing of false reports to cover up the incidents. Petitioner “seeks reversal of his convictions and dismissal of all charges against him, arguing 1) that the delay between his conviction and the entry of final judgment violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial; and 2) that the district court erred in excluding from evidence three memoranda he wrote.”
The Court state that, to determine whether a particular delay violates a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, a four-factor test must be applied: “(1) the length of delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) the defendant’s assertion of his right; and (4) prejudice to the defendant.” Balancing these factors, the Court concluded that Petitioner has not established a Sixth Amendment speedy trial violation. “While this result is troubling given the lengthy delay from conviction to the entry of final judgment, a delay which certainly exceeded the norm of timely criminal case processing, it does not rise to the level of a constitutional speedy trial violation.” Additionally, the exclusion of the memorandum evidence was harmless because Petitioner testified about the content of the documents and the content was not disputed.