ALTON ROBERTSON, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26CR-17-10]
HONORABLE MARCIA HEARNSBERGER, JUDGE.
Graham Law Firm, by: James Lucas Graham, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee
Alton Ray Robertson, Jr., was convicted of residential
burglary and sentenced to 60 years' imprisonment in the
Arkansas Department of Correction. His sole argument on
appeal is that his right to a speedy trial was violated. We
conclude that it was, and we reverse and dismiss his
was arrested on November 18, 2016, and was subsequently
charged with residential burglary and aggravated assault. He
was on parole at the time of his arrest and was later found
to have ultimately violated the terms of his parole, so he
remained in the State's custody from the time of his
arrest through his jury trial on March 27, 2018, 494 days.
February 28, 2018, pursuant to Rule 28.1(c) of the Arkansas
Rules of Criminal Procedure, Robertson filed a motion to
dismiss, asserting that his right to a speedy trial had been
violated due to the State's failure to bring him to trial
within twelve months of the date of his arrest. The motion
was denied, and Robertson was convicted of residential
burglary and acquitted on the aggravated-assault charge.
Robertson appeals, specifically arguing that a particular
order continuing his case, which was entered by the court on
its own motion, did not comply with Arkansas Rule of Criminal
Procedure 28.3(b) and was therefore insufficient to toll the
running of time for speedy-trial calculations.
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. Ark. R. Crim. P. 28.1(c); Yarbrough v.
State, 370 Ark. 31, 33-34, 257 S.W.3d 50, 53 (2007). If
the defendant is not brought to trial within the requisite
time, the defendant is entitled to have the charges dismissed
with an absolute bar to prosecution. Ark. R. Crim. P. 30.1;
Yarbrough, supra. Once a defendant
establishes a prima facie case of a speedy-trial violation,
i.e., that his trial took place outside the speedy-trial
period, the State bears the burden of showing that the delay
was the result of the defendant's conduct or was
otherwise justified. Id.
case before us, Robertson was arrested on November 18, 2016.
On February 28, 2018, he filed a motion to dismiss for
violation of his speedy-trial rights based on a scheduled
trial date of March 20, 2018. We have held that the filing of
a speedy-trial motion tolls the running of the time for a
speedy trial under our rules. Id. The time period
between the arrest and the filing of the motion is 468 days.
the State concedes that Robertson made a prima facie showing
of a speedy-trial violation and that the burden shifted to
the State to show that the delay was the result of the
defendant's conduct or was otherwise justified. Thus, we
must determine whether the circuit court correctly excluded
the challenged time periods from its speedy-trial
does not contest the exclusion of 28 days from February 7 to
March 7, 2017, and another exclusion of 70 days from June 13
to August 22, 2017, as both delays were due to continuances
he had requested. When 98 days are excluded from the 468-day
period, 370 days remain.
had a trial set for Monday, October 23, 2017. That same day,
the trial court entered an order continuing the trial until
March 20, 2018. The order noted that a five-day jury trial
was scheduled to begin October 23, 2017, and it stated that
the time from October 23, 2017, until March 20, 2018, was
excluded by the trial court for speedy-trial-calculation
purposes. The order notes that it was distributed to
Robertson's counsel. The trial court entered a second
order continuing the trial to March 27, 2018. This order did
not state that the time was excluded for speedy-trial
purposes, and Robertson does not contend that it should be
excluded from the speedy-trial calculation, except insofar as
the speedy-trial time was tolled when Robertson filed his
motion to dismiss for speedy-trial violations on February 28,
2018. Thus, this appeal raises the question of whether the
128-day period from the filing of the trial court's order
on October 23, 2017, to the filing of Robertson's speedy
trial motion on February 28, 2018, is rightly excluded from
the speedy-trial calculation.
argues that it is not, because both the order and the docket
entry failed to satisfy the requirements for exclusion found
in Rule 28.3(b) of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure.