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United States v. Guajardo

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

September 23, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JUAN GUAJARDO.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY F. ATLAS, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Juan Guajardo's Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”) [Doc. # 805]. The Government responded, [1] and Guajardo replied.[2]The Motion is ripe for decision. Based on the parties' briefing, pertinent matters of record, and relevant legal authority, the Court denies Guajardo's Motion.[3]

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 7, 2007, Defendant Juan Guajardo was indicted, along with nineteen other defendants, by a federal grand jury of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, namely cocaine. Guajardo is a United States citizen, and on or about July 24, 2019, he was deported from Mexico to the United States and turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service.[4] He is set to be tried on the conspiracy charge on September 27, 2019.

         Guajardo moves to dismiss the Indictment, asserting his prosecution violates the Speedy Trial Clause of the Sixth Amendment.[5]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees criminal defendants “the right to a speedy . . . trial.” U.S. Const. amend. VI. The guarantee is “an important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial, to minimize anxiety and concern accompanying public accusation and to limit the possibilities that long delay will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself.” United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 320 (1971) (quoting United States v. Ewell, 383 U.S. 116, 120 (1966)). Consequently, the speedy trial right attaches when “a defendant is arrested or formally accused.” See Betterman v. Montana, 136 S.Ct. 1609, 1613 (2016) (emphasis added); Marion, 404 U.S. at 320 (“[I]t is either a formal indictment or information or else the actual restraints imposed by arrest and holding to answer a criminal charge that engage the particular protections of the speedy trial provision of the Sixth Amendment.”).

         “In analyzing a Sixth Amendment speedy trial claim, ” courts in the Fifth Circuit “balance, among other relevant circumstances, (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) whether the defendant timely asserted his right; and (4) any prejudice resulting to the defendant because of the delay.” United States v. Bieganowski, 313 F.3d 264, 284 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972)). “The court balances the factors by ‘weigh[ing] the first three Barker factors . . . against any prejudice suffered by the defendant due to the delay in prosecution.'” United States v. Molina-Solorio, 577 F.3d 300, 304 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting United States v. Serna-Villarreal, 352 F.3d 225, 230-31 (5th Cir. 2003)).

         The first factor, length of delay, is a “threshold requirement” courts must consider before examining the other factors. See Laws v. Stephens, 536 Fed.Appx. 409, 412 (5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (quoting United States v. Schreane, 331 F.3d 548, 553 (6th Cir. 2003)). Only if the delay between the indictment and trial is greater than one year must the Court “undertake[] a full Barker analysis, looking to the first three factors to decide whether prejudice will be presumed.” Molina- Solorio, 577 F.3d at 304 (quoting United States v. Parker, 505 F.3d 323, 328 (5th Cir. 2007)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The lag between Guajardo's 2007 indictment and his 2019 arrest and trial date does not violate his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Accordingly, the Court denies Guajardo's Motion to Dismiss.

         Threshold Requirement.-

         Guajardo satisfies the “threshold requirement” for a speedy trial claim; his indictment and putative trial are separated by more than one year. See Laws, 536 Fed.Appx. at 412; Molina-Solorio, 577 F.3d at 304. Accordingly, the Court will “undertake[] a full Barker analysis.” See Molina-Solorio, 577 F.3d at 304.

         Length ...


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