If you need help now, call us at: (470) 225-7710

Blog

SUFFICIENCY OF THE STATUTORY SPEEDY TRIAL DEMAND

Posted by Ben Sessions | Sep 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

UPDATE:

Appeals 20court 20ga 201
Appeals 20court 20ga 202

Below is a brief that I have recently filed in the Court of Appeals addressing the sufficiency of the statutory speedy trial demand I filed in a case I am handling. This is a fairly nuanced issued and will rarely arise but understanding the case law formality requirements of O.C.G.A. 17-7-170.

PART ONE

JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT

Jurisdiction over this appeal is properly vested in the Court of Appeals, rather than the Supreme Court, because this case is not among the category of cases reserved exclusively for the Supreme Court. Ga. Const., Art. 6, § 5, ¶ 3 (1983).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The trial court's dismissal of the Appellant's statutory speedy trial demand presents a question of law that should be reviewed under the de novo standard. Hudson v. State, 715 S.E.2d 442, 443 (2011).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Appellant was arrested for driving under the influence and related traffic offenses on May 30, 2014. (R. – 5 – 11). On December 23, 2015, the Fulton County Solicitor's Office filed formal accusations charging the Appellant with offenses arising from her arrest on May 30, 2014. (R. – 13 – 21). On February 25, 2016, Defendant filed a statutory demand for speedy trial in the Clerk's Office of the Fulton County State Court. A copy of this document was served upon the Fulton County Solicitor-General's Office and the office of the Honorable Jay Roth, Judge, Fulton County State Court. (R – 42; 83 – 88). On May 25, 2016, the trial court orally ruled that the Appellant's statutory speedy trial demand was invalid. On June 1, 2016, the Appellant filed her notice of appeal from the dismissal of her statutory speedy trial demand. On June 7, 2016, the trial court entered an order finding that the “Defendant [sic] Demand for Speedy Trial Demand [sic] was invalid under OCGA 17-7-170.” (R. – 90 – 91).

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS RELEVANT TO THIS APPEAL

The demand for speedy trial in State of Georgia v. FirstNAME LastNAME, Fulton County State Court, Case No. TRCT#, is found in the record on appeal at page 42. The form of the Appellant's demand for speedy trial follows the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170: (1) the Appellant's statutory speedy trial demand is titled “Demand for Speedy Trial”; (2) the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial references O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170 within the pleading, and (3) the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial identifies the accusation number for which the demand for speedy trial was being made. (R – 42). The Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial is 1 page in length, including the certificate of service. The certificate of service states that the Demand for Speedy Trial was filed with the Clerk of the Fulton County State Court and served upon the Honorable Jay Roth, Judge, Fulton County State Court and served upon the Fulton County Solicitor General's Office. (R – 42). The filing of the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial and the service of it upon the solicitor's office and the trial judge was never placed in question by the trial court. In its oral ruling, the trial court stated that “[t]he form of the speedy trial demand, the Court has no problem with that.” (MT – 20).

The Appellant's Demand for Speed Trial was not attached to any other pleading. It was not stapled or otherwise bound to any other pleading filed in this case. (R – 42; 83 – 88). On February 25, 2016, the Appellant filed her Demand for Speedy Trial, and she filed numerous other pleadings. A notice of leave of absence of Appellant's counsel was filed, a motion for discovery and notice to produce was filed, a demand for full information about defendant's blood test under code section O.C.G.A. § 40-6-392(a)(4) was filed, a motion in limine to exclude blood test results on statutory grounds was filed, a motion in limine to exclude defendant's alleged incriminatory statements and acts was filed, a motion in limine to exclude all evidence gathered as a result of an unlawful seizure was filed, a motion in limine to limit testimony regarding horizontal gaze nystagmus test was filed, a motion to suppress evidence and statements obtained unlawfully by police was filed, a demand for statutory discovery pursuant to Title 17, Chapter 16, Article 2 of the Official Code of Georgia was filed, and a motion to preserve blood samples that Defendant's counsel was filed. (R – 23 – 59). Each of the Appellant's motions and demands contain a separate certificate of service. Id. The Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial was not filed as a part of or within any other motion or demand. (R – 42).

No motion to dismiss the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial was ever filed or orally made by the State. The trial court's purported problems with the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial were difficult, at best, to decipher when Appellant's counsel inquired of the trial court as to what problems the trial court had with the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial. When Appellant's counsel asked the trial if the issue to be addressed at the hearing on May 25, 2016 was whether the Appellant's Demand for Speedy Trial was, in fact, in compliance with O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170, the trial court responded, “I'll give you that.” (MT – 3). When Appellant's counsel asked the trial court if it was “troubled by virtue of the fact that the demand for speedy trial was in between other demands and motions that were made on the same day”, the Court stated, “[o]nce again, that may or may not be true, but I don't want to argue with you from that perspective.” (MT – 4). Ultimately, the trial court would never state what the purported problems with the Demand for Speedy Trial were, and the trial court stated, “Counsel, it wouldn't matter to me whether it was on the top, in the middle or on the bottom.” (MT – 4). So, the Appellant was left to address a motion to dismiss her Demand for Speedy Trial that was made by the trial court, not the State, with no specificity to the basis motion to dismiss.

Following the argument of counsel, the trial court stated, “[t]he Court, therefore, finds that the speedy trial demand in respect was not properly filed. In that, it was not done separate, distinct, and individual, which is required under Hudson versus the State, 311 Ga. App. 206, which once again, is a 2011 case.” (MT – 20). In its “Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss”, the trial court found that
[t]he Defendant filed 32 sheets of paper on February 25, 2016. The front sheet was titled ENTRY OF APPEARANCE, WAIVER OF FORMAL ARRAIGNMENT, AND PLEA OF NOT GUILTY. This is the only sheet was [that] [sic] stamped “filed.” There are 13 additional Motions [sic] within the 32 sheets of paper, which are 2-3 pages in length. Each Motion [sic] has a separate certificate of service, with no staple, paper clip, or other item differentiating the documents or included in the filing.

(R. – 90) (emphasis supplied).

The trial court further found that the
Defendant puts the burden on the Clerk of Court to review her filing page by page to determine what may or may not be filed, with the consequence of missing a speedy trial demand falling squarely on the state. This is precisely contrary to the policy behind the rule requiring a ‘separate and distinct filing' to constitute a valid speedy trial demand.'

(R. – 91).

The trial court's order cited no authority for imposing the additional requirement of stapling, paper clipping, or otherwise differentiating other pleadings filed in addition to the Demand for Speedy Trial.

PART TWO

ENUMERATION OF ERROR

The trial court erred in dismissing the Appellant's demand for speedy trial. See, Hudson v. State, 715 S.E.2d 442, 443 (2011).

PART THREE

ARGUMENT AND CITATION OF AUTHORITY

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE APPELLANT'S DEMAND FOR SPEEDY TRIAL.

The Appellant complied with each of the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170. O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170 contains 5 elements for an effective speedy trial demand:
(1) it shall be filed as a separate, distinct, and individual document;
(2) it shall not be a part of any other pleading or document;
(3) it shall be clearly titled “Demand for Speedy Trial”;
(4) it shall reference O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170 within the demand, and
(5) it shall identify the indictment or accusation number for which the demand is being made.

Whether the Defendant's statutory demand for trial, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170, is effective when it is filed and served with other motions and demands is an issue that is controlled by Hudson v. State, 311 Ga. App. 206, 206-07, 715 S.E.2d 442, 443-44 (2011).

A defendant's statutory speedy trial demand is not invalidated because the
defendant filed several other motions and demands on the same day, and a defendant is under no additional burden – beyond complying with O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170 – to alert the trial court and the state to the filing of the statutory speedy trial demand. The trial court misread Hudson, and, in fact, this case presents a stronger case than Hudson for finding that the demand for speedy trial was made in conformity with O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170.

As noted above, the record reflects that Hudson filed 11 different documents on August 6, 2009, all of which were listed upon a single certificate of service. One of the eleven documents filed included Hudson's statutory demand for a speedy trial. Notwithstanding the absence of a separate certificate of service attached directly to Hudson's speedy trial demand filing, see generally OCGA § 17–1–1(e)(2), Hudson's demand was otherwise its own separate, distinct, and individual document that was not a part of any of the ten additional documents filed on August 6, 2009. See OCGA § 17–7–170(a). Compare Jones v. State, 304 Ga.App. 445, 449(2)(b), 696 S.E.2d 346 (2010) (concluding defendant's speedy trial demand was not a separate, distinct, and individual document where it was contained within the defendant's motion to dismiss). Moreover, Hudson's speedy trial demand complied with the additional pleading requirements of OCGA § 17–7–170(a) insofar as the self-contained document clearly bears the title “DEMAND FOR SPEEDY JURY TRIAL,” references OCGA § 17–7–170(a), and identifies the indictment number for which such demand is being made.

We therefore conclude that, contrary to the trial court's ruling otherwise, Hudson's speedy trial demand complied with the pleading requirements as contemplated by OCGA § 17–7–170(a). Consequently, the trial court erred in dismissing Hudson's speedy trial demand. In light of this error, we hereby reverse the trial court's order denying Hudson's motion for discharge and acquittal and remand this case for further proceedings to determine whether Hudson's statutory speedy trial demand satisfied all the remaining requirements of OCGA § 17–7–170.

Hudson v. State, 311 Ga. App. 206, 206-07, 715 S.E.2d 442, 443-44 (2011) (citations omitted).
Appellant's demand for speedy trial presents a stronger case for finding that it was a separate, distinct, and individual document than the demand at issue in Hudson. In Hudson, the defendant's demand for speedy trial did not have a separate certificate of service differentiating it from the other pleadings filed by the defendant. In this case, the Appellant's demand for speedy trial contains a certificate of service that differentiated it from other pleadings filed by the Appellant. (R. – 42).
The Appellant's demand for speedy trial does not include any other motion or demand within it. (R. – 42). This Honorable Court has disapproved of speedy trial demands that include a motion to dismiss. See, e.g., Jones v. State, 304 Ga. App. 445, 449, 696 S.E.2d 346, 350 (2010)(the defendant's speedy trial demand contained within a motion to dismiss was not a “separate, distinct, and individual document” as required by OCGA § 17–7–170(a)). However, there is simply no basis to find that the Appellant's demand for speedy trial deviates from the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 17-7-170.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, Appellant respectfully prays that this Honorable Court reverses the trial court's order dismissing the Appellant's demand for speedy trial.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED, this 14th day of August, 2016.
By: /s/D. Benjamin Sessions
D. BENJAMIN SESSIONS
State Bar No. BAR#
Attorney for Appellant

I hereby certify that I have this day served a true and accurate copy of the foregoing Brief of Appellant upon all parties by electronic service through the Court's e-fiing system and by email to [email protected] A true and accurate copy of this brief will be delivered by U.S. Mail to:
Mr. R. Leon Benham
Office of the Fulton County Solicitor General
160 Pryor Street, Ste. J-301
Atlanta, GA 30303

This 14th day of August, 2016.

By: /s/D. Benjamin Sessions
D. BENJAMIN SESSIONS
State Bar No. BAR#
Attorney for Appellant

About the Author

Ben Sessions

I work to provide exceptional service, attention, and results to each of my clients. Most of clients come to me because they are in a completely overwhelming situation. They need someone that will do more than address their legal problems.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Hiring A Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is about more than getting a great result in your case. We understand that for many of our clients, the event that led them to call us causes them tremendous stress and anxiety. We will help you understand the process and how we can help. When you hire The Sessions Law Firm for your case, you will have a lawyer that is willing to take the time to help you and committed to delivering the best results possible.

Menu