United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE
Farmer has opted to represent himself in this complex federal
prosecution set for trial next spring. Farmer has filed
numerous motions asking for various forms of relief. I have
already addressed several of his arguments. Now I address
Farmer's claims that his right to a speedy trial has been
violated and his requests to restart the speedy trial clock.
[DE 1116, 1121, 1213.] For the reasons that follow, I will
deny those motions.
was first indicted by a federal grand jury on January 19,
2017 and charged with conspiracy to participate in
racketeering activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1962(d) and conspiracy with intent to distribute and to
distribute cocaine, marijuana, and alprazolam in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846. Liberally construing Farmer's
pro se motions, as I am required to do, Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), it appears that he is
arguing that there have been violations of both the Sixth
Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161.
Farmer also apparently requests an immediate trial without
any further continuances. He further asks the Court to
re-start his speedy trial clock.
Sixth Amendment guarantees an accused “the right to a
speedy and public trial.” U.S. Const. amend. VI. The
Supreme Court has identified four factors that are relevant
in determining whether the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy
trial has been violated: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the
reason for the delay; (3) the defendant's assertion of
his speedy trial right; and (4) the prejudice to the
defendant caused by the delay. United States v.
Koller, 956 F.2d 1408, 1413 (7th Cir. 1992) (citing
Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972)).
first factor, the length of delay, acts as a
“triggering mechanism.” Unless the amount of time
that has elapsed between accusation and trial is
presumptively prejudicial, the Court need not conduct a
searching analysis of all of the factors. United States
v. Oriedo, 498 F.3d 593, 597 (7th Cir. 2007). The
Seventh Circuit considers delays that approach one year
presumptively prejudicial. Id. Farmer's case has
been pending for less than one year, but we are quickly
approaching one year after he was first indicted. For that
reason, I will address the remaining factors.
second factor, the reason for the delay, weighs in favor of
finding there is no violation. Some of the reason for the
delay was due to the need to evaluate Farmer's mental
competency, which took nearly four months to complete. The
other delays are attributable to the complexity of this case,
which Farmer's previous counsel, as well as counsel for
his co-defendants, agreed was the case. Farmer can hardly
take issue with this finding, given that this case involves
allegations of a conspiracy spanning 13 years, involving 32
co-conspirators, and including multiple murders, robberies,
and drug trafficking. According to the government, more than
25, 000 pages of discovery have been turned over to the
defendants. “Delays due to the complexity of the case
and the large number of defendants support a finding that no
Sixth Amendment violation occurred.” United States
v. Hills, 618 F.3d 619, 630 (7th Cir. 2010) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Although Farmer may not like that
his previous counsel, and counsel for his co-defendants,
agreed to continuances due to the complexity of the case, his
dislike does not mean that the government is more to blame
for the delay.
third factor cannot be disputed, as Farmer has repeatedly
filed motions seeking to invoke his Sixth Amendment right. So
I turn to the final factor, prejudice resulting from the
delay. The Sixth Amendment right exists in order to prevent
oppressive pretrial incarceration, minimize anxiety and
concern of the accused, and limit the possibility that the
defense will be impaired. Id. at 632. “[A]s
long as the government shows reasonable diligence in
prosecuting its case, a defendant who cannot demonstrate
prejudice with specificity will not show a Sixth Amendment
violation, no matter how long the delay.” Id.
Farmer has not articulated how he has been prejudiced by the
delays beyond claiming that he has a right to a speedy and
public trial and that his rights have been violated. He
briefly notes that any delay prevents him from “being
proven innocent.” [DE 1116.] Without any further
explanation, however, I cannot say that this is the case.
Farmer is scheduled to proceed to trial in May 2018, about
one year and four months after his initial indictment. It is
difficult to see how a delay of this length would affect his
ability to present a defense. To the contrary, since Farmer
has just recently fired his third court-appointed attorney
and decided to proceed pro se, his defense will
require adequate preparation, which is likely not possible if
Farmer proceeded to trial immediately.
also claims that the delay in bringing him to trial violates
the Speedy Trial Act. The Speedy Trial Act is a statutory
provision, distinct from the Sixth Amendment's guarantee
of a speedy trial. It requires criminal trials to commence
within 70 days of the indictment or the defendant's
initial appearance, whichever is later. 18 U.S.C. §
3161(c)(1). The Act recognizes however that certain delays
are justifiable and permits this time to be excluded from the
70-day clock. Id. § 3161(h); see also
United States v. O'Connor, 656 F.3d 630, 635-36 (7th
Cir. 2011). Among others, delays resulting from any
proceeding to determine the mental competency of the
defendant and delays resulting from the filing and
dispositions of pretrial motions are excluded. 18 U.S.C.
review of the record reveals that there has been no Speedy
Trial Act violation. From the date of Farmer's indictment
until his trial on May 14, 2018, there will have been a total
of 480 days. However, nearly all of this time - from March 6,
2017 until trial - is excludable from Speedy Trial Act
calculations for one reason or another. Under §
3161(h)(6), the presence of codefendants is relevant and
affects the calculations, as excludable delay of one
defendant “may be ascribed to all codefendants in the
case, absence severance.” United States v.
Tanner, 941 F.2d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 1991). Although
Farmer has sought a severance multiple times, severance has
not been granted. [DE 1248.] Farmer's previous counsel
and his co-defendants' counsels agreed that the time
between March 6, 2017 through June 13, 2017 was excludable
from Speedy Trial Act calculations because of the case's
complexity. [DE 675.] On June 13, 2017, the Court held a
status conference and set this case for trial on May 14,
2018. The parties all agreed that the time until the trial
was excludable because of the complexity of the case. [DE 825
& 844.] It's also worth noting that, though subsumed
in the other excludable time periods, there was another
four-month delay - from April 11, 2017 to August 9, 2017 -
because Farmer's mental competency was being evaluated.
[DE 756 & 956.] Thus, the only time included in the
Speedy Trial Act calculations is the time from Farmer's
indictment on January 19, 2017 to March 6, 2017 - 46 days.
This is well within the Speedy Trial Act's requirement
that a defendant be brought to trial within 70 days.
also is no basis to re-start the Speedy Trial Act clock, as
the defendants in this case have already agreed that, due to
the case's complexity, the time until trial is excluded.
Farmer's motions for a severance have been denied, and,
as I previously explained, an excludable delay from one
defendant can be ascribed to all of his co-defendants. To the
extent that Farmer's request to re-start his Speedy Trial
clock also encompasses a request to sever his case from that
of his co-defendants, that request has already been denied by
the Magistrate Judge. I will not disturb that ruling.
Jeremiah Shane Farmer's motions [DE 1116, 1121, 1213] are