Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Clarke

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
TAQUAN CLARKE

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Taquan Clarke's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 367], filed on September 25, 2019. The Defendant's Motion to Dismiss contends that the charges against him should be dismissed because his right to a speedy trial, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Speedy Trial Act, has been violated. On September 27, 2019, the Government filed its Motion for Date to Respond to Defendant Taquan Clarke's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 374], requesting the Court to give the Government up to October 11, 2019, to file its response brief. The Court granted the Government's motion and ordered the Government to file its response on or before October 11, 2019. [ECF No. 378]. On October 9, 2019, the Government filed its Response to Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 389].

         BACKGROUND

         The instant case arises from a nineteen-count Indictment that was brought against nine co-defendants. The Indictment [ECF No. 1] was filed on February 21, 2018, and alleges charges related to drug trafficking, firearm possession, and murder. The Defendant was charged with one count of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 846, and one count of knowingly and intentionally killing another while engaged in an offense punishable under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), in violation of 21 U.S.C. 848(e)(1)(A). Based on the charges against him, the Defendant-along with three of his co-defendants-was eligible for the death penalty and was appointed two attorneys. On July 19, 2019, the Government filed its Notice Not to Seek the Death Penalty as to the Defendant. [ECF No. 300]. Even though the death penalty will not be sought, the Defendant has been permitted to retain two court-appointed attorneys due to the complexity of the instant case.

         Nearly two years have passed since the initial Indictment was filed. Since that time, a Superseding Indictment was filed, the case was reassigned to a new District Court Judge, three defendants have been severed, the Government has determined it will not seek the death penalty as a punishment for any of the Defendants, there have been 381 docket entries, and the parties have reportedly exchanged hours of recordings and thousands of pages of documents through the discovery process. Trial for the remaining defendants, including Defendant Clarke, has been set for May 11, 2020. [ECF No. 394].

         LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS

         A. Speedy Trial Act

         The Speedy Trial Act principally requires a federal criminal trial to commence within seventy days of the filing of the information or indictment or from a defendant's initial appearance, whichever occurs later. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). To accommodate the expected differences in criminal cases and the varying valid reasons for longer pretrial periods, the Act excludes delays attributable to certain events and circumstances. See 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h).

         “[T]he Act excludes from the speedy trial calculation any ‘delay resulting from a continuance . . . if the judge granted such continuance on the basis of his findings that the ends of justice served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.” United States v. Parker, 716 F.3d 999, 1006 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A)). One factor a court must consider when deciding whether to grant an ends of justice continuance is the complexity of the case. See 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii). When granting the ends of justice continuance, the record must make “clear the reasons why the court found that the ends of justice warranted the exclusion of time.” Parker, 716 F.3d at 1006 (quoting United States v. Vallone, 698 F.3d 416, 449 (7th Cir. 2012). “In multi-defendant cases, such as the one before us, the seventy-day clock does not start ticking until the last co-defendant has been arraigned.” United States v. Baker, 40 F.3d 154, 159 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing Henderson v. United States, 476 U.S. 321, 323 n.2 (1986)); see 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(6). “Moreover, ‘under [§ 3161(h)(6)], the excludable delay of one defendant may be ascribed to all codefendants in the same case, absent severance.'” Baker, 40 F.3d at 159. (quoting United States v. Tanner, 941 F.2d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 1991)).

         The Court has carefully reviewed the docket in this case and finds no indication in the record that a violation of the Speedy Trial Act has occurred. Specifically, a violation of the Defendant's rights under the Speedy Trial Act is not supported by the record due to the exclusion of all delays caused by the ends of justice continuances granted by the Court during this judicial proceeding.

         The Indictment [ECF No. 1] was filed on February 21, 2018. The Defendant's initial appearance occurred on February 23, 2018 [ECF No. 15], and his arraignment occurred on March 12, 2018. [ECF No. 71]. The arraignment of the final defendant charged by the Indictment [ECF No. 1] occurred on March 19, 2019. [ECF No. 80]. During the Defendant's Arraignment [ECF No. 71], the Court found that the ends of justice were best served by granting a continuance due to the volume of discovery and the complex nature of this case. On the record, the Court found that the ends of justice served by granting a continuance outweighed the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial. Based on these findings, the Court waived the Defendant's rights under the Speedy Trial Act, from the date of his arraignment until the status conference set for June 13, 2018. The parties agreed with the Court's findings and no objections were made to the waiver.

         On June 13, 2018, the Court held a status conference [ECF No. 96] to set deadlines for pretrial motions. At this status conference, the Court again found that the ends of justice were best served by granting a continuance, due to the volume of discovery and the complex nature of this case. On the record, the Court found that the ends of justice served by granting a continuance outweighed the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial. The Court waived the Defendant's rights under the Speedy Trial Act for a second time, from the date of the June 13, 2018 status conference until November 2, 2018. Once more, the parties agreed with the Court's findings and no objections were made to the waiver.

         On September 12, 2018, the Court held another status conference [ECF No. 123]. At this status conference, the Court reaffirmed its prior findings and, for a third time, waived the Defendants' rights under the Speedy Trial Act due to the volume of discovery and in the interest of justice. Specifically, the Court found that the time period between the September 12, 2018 status conference and the trial date should be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act due to the complexity of the case, the number of defendants, and the amount of discovery, and when considering both the public interests and the defendants' interests in a speedy trial. The Court also ruled that the time used to prepare and file pretrial motions would be excluded for calculations made under the Speedy Trial Act. The parties agreed with the Court's ruling, and the Defendant did not raise any objections at this status conference. On the following day, the Court issued an Order [ECF No. 125] setting the trial date for June 10, 2019.

         On March 11, 2019, the Defendant and three of his co-defendants were scheduled to meet with the Capital Review Unit of the Department of Justice to determine whether the Department of Justice would seek the death penalty against any of the four defendants. This meeting was eventually rescheduled for June 10, 2019, the same date as trial. This conflict mandated resolution because the meeting and the trial could not occur simultaneously. Furthermore, the trial could not occur prior to this meeting because the result of the meeting would affect the remaining judicial proceedings, including trial strategy and preparation for both parties. On February 27, 2019, Co-Defendant Teddia Caldwell filed his Motion to Continue Jury Trial [ECF No. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.