May 23, 2013
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
DENISE ELAINE BROWN, Defendant.
ORDER TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ITS AGENTS, INCLUDING THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, TO PRODUCE LABORATORY TEST RESULTS BY JULY 24, 2013
MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.
This case proceeds on the United States of America's Criminal Complaint alleging three Class B Misdemeanor Counts against Defendant, Denise Elaine Brown. Two of the Counts allege that Defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of alleged commission of the offenses.
Defendant's allegedly wrongful acts occurred on January 19, 2013. Defendant appeared at her arraignment on February 5, 2013, and entered a not guilty plea to each count.
It is the Court's custom to give the parties in such cases approximately four weeks to exchange discovery, negotiate with one another and make a decision as to whether to proceed to trial or enter a guilty plea. In most such cases, that period and possibly one additional of equal length, prove adequate. However, in this case the United States requested ten weeks time in order to have the Defendant's blood, drawn at the time of arrest, to be processed through and analyzed by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) state laboratory to determine the presence and amount, if any, of alcohol or drugs in it. Accordingly, the Court delayed some fifteen weeks, until May 21, 2013, to allow such testing to be completed before the next Status Conference.
At the May 21, 2013, Status Conference, instead of entering a plea or determining a trial date, the parties advised they were awaiting the results of confirmation re-analysis of the earlier blood testing. The U.S. advised that such re-testing by DOJ would take at least ten additional weeks from the date it was requested (May 15, 2013). The Status Conference was necessarily, but regrettably, continued until August 20, 2013.
The Court finds the DOJ's twenty week, i.e., five month, delay in conducting laboratory testing and retesting of blood samples to be excessive. The resulting seven month delay from time of arrest to completion of discovery in this, a very simple and straightforward case, is inimical to the provision of justice. It causes memories to fade and witnesses to move on. It frustrates the Court's management of its docket.
The delay here is attributable solely to the extended turn-around time for blood testing at DOJ. The U.S. and the Federal Defender, Defendant's counsel, are hereby on notice that the Court will not continue to tolerate such delay. All available remedies to prevent and, if necessary, to sanction it will be considered.
ACCORDINGLY, GOOD CAUSE APPEARING, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
1. Plaintiff, the United States of America, and its agent, the California Department of Justice, is ORDERED to complete the results of its confirmation re-analysis of the sample of the blood of Defendant, Denise E. Brown (TX-13-001194) by not later than July 24, 2013.
2. Plaintiff, the United States of America, is ORDERED to deliver the results of said confirmation re-analysis to Defendant on or before the August 1, 2013; and,
3. A Status Hearing to take a guilty plea, set a trial date or dismiss the charges is scheduled for August 20, 2013 in this Court.
IT IS SO ORDERED.