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Carter v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

April 7, 2016

STANLEY CARTER, APPELLEE
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLANT

          APPEAL FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. CR-2012-658. HONORABLE RANDY F. PHILHOURS, JUDGE.

         Shaun Hair, Deputy Pub. Del., for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kathryn Henry, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

         ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice. BAKER, GOODSON, and WOOD, B., concur in part and dissent in part.

          OPINION

          ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice

         Stanley Carter appeals from his convictions on three counts of rape, for which he was sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment of life, fifty years, and fifty years.[1] On appeal, he argues that his convictions should be reversed and dismissed for a speedy-trial violation because the trial court did not follow the strict commands of Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 28.3(b)(1). For the reason set out below, we affirm.

         Appellant was arrested on June 15, 2012. His trial was continued on several occasions. Pertinent to this appeal, the circuit court entered a scheduling order setting the case for trial to be held on March 11, 2013. On March 7, 2013, the circuit court entered a scheduling order continuing the trial until May 13, 2013. On May 13, 2013, appellant's trial was continued over appellant's objection, with the trial court noting on the docket the following: " Case continued over defendant's objection based on congested docket. The case is set for July 22, the next available date on this docket. The time is excluded. The court finds there is no prejudice to the defendant who is out on bond." The court also entered an order setting a new trial date of July 22, 2013.

         Appellant's case was tried before a Crittenden County jury on July 22-24, 2013. In a pretrial hearing outside the presence of the jury, appellant moved to dismiss his case based on an alleged speedy-trial violation. During this hearing, the circuit court and counsel discussed that the continuance granted on March 7, 2013, had been at defense counsel's request due to illness in his family; his wife had been diagnosed with the flu, and the doctor had informed them that he and their three young children would likely get the flu also. The court denied the motion. Appellant was found guilty on all three counts and sentenced by the court on September 16, 2013. On September 20, 2013, appellant filed a " motion to supplement the record and to renew motion to dismiss for violation of speedy trial." In his motion, appellant argued that " other than the State's contention that the trial docket was congested during the May 2013 term," " there are no excludable periods." The State responded with a detailed explanation for each continuance of appellant's trial date. The circuit court denied appellant's motion by written order entered on October 2, 2013. This appeal followed.[2]

          Pursuant to Rule 28.1 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant must be brought to trial within twelve months unless there are periods of delay that are excluded under Rule 28.3. See Ark. R. Crim. P. 28.1(b), (c) (2013); Eagle v. State, 2012 Ark. 371. On appeal, we conduct a de novo review to determine whether specific periods of time are excludable under our speedy-trial rules. Yarbrough v. State, 370 Ark. 31, 33, 257 S.W.3d 50, 53 (2007). Once a defendant establishes a prima facie case of a speedy-trial violation, i.e., that his or her trial took place outside of the speedy-trial period, the State bean the burden of showing that the delay was the result of the defendant's conduct or was otherwise justified. Id.

         In the present case, it is undisputed that appellant was tried 402 days after his arrest; thus, the burden is on the State to prove that the delay was excludeable for speedy-trial purposes. See Yarbrough v. State, supra. Relevant to this appeal, Rule 28.3(b) provides that the following is excluded:

The period of delay resulting from a continuance attributable to congestion of the trial docket if in a written order or docket entry at the time the continuance is granted:
(1) the court explains with particularity the reasons the trial docket does not permit trial on the date originally scheduled ;
(2) the court determines that the delay will not prejudice the defendant; and
(3) the court schedules the trial on the next available date permitted by ...

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