How much time must take place before a trial is NOT speedy?

Take the case of Jonathan Boyer, who killed Bradlee Marsh in 2002 but whose case did not go to trial until 2009, seven years later. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to uphold Boyer’s speedy trial appeal even though he claimed that most of the seven-year delay between his arrest and murder trial was the result of inadequate funding to pay for his court-appointed defense attorneys. For the first five years after he was arrested, the state did not have the money to pay for the two defense attorneys required in a death penalty case. The trial went forward only after the prosecutor decided to reduce the first-degree murder charge in favor of a lesser charge, which made Boyer’s case less expensive to defend. Boyer argued that the delay violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. But the state appeals court ruled that the delay was mainly because of a factor “beyond the control of the state”—naming a “funding crisis”—and therefore that there was no constitutional violation. The state also claimed that it was Boyer’s own attorneys who caused the delay with numerous continuances.

The Supreme Court agreed with the prosecutors and stated that other delays before the trial occurred (like Hurricane Rita) were out of anyone’s control. The Supreme Court also noted, “If the defense had not sought and obtained continuances, the trial might well have commenced at a much earlier date and might have reached a conclusion far less favorable to the defense.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who, in a dissent, was joined by three other more liberal judges, said that states are ultimately responsible for providing adequate counsel, whatever their excuses, and that the state appeals court made “a fundamental error” that the justices should have corrected. She further noted that the Boyer case was not isolated and that it illustrated “larger, systemic problems in Louisiana.”

If you were on the Supreme Court, with whom would you side? Is the state responsible for providing adequate counsel and does failure to promptly do so amount to a right to a speedy trial?

Let’s do some research. Find a case where the failure to provide a speedy trial was raised by the defense. What happened and what was the result?

Make sure you respond to one other student in no less than 4 sentences.

Your initial response should be 3 paragraphs.