United States District Court, E.D. California
For Nelson Mauricio Ponce Vazquez, Defendant: Barry L. Morris, LEAD ATTORNEY, Attorney At Law, Walnut Creek, CA.
For USA, Plaintiff: Jill Marie Thomas, cr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christopher Stanton Hales, GOVT, United States Attorney's Office, Sacramento, CA.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS INDICTMENT
WILLIAM B. SHUBB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Defendant Nelson Mauricio Ponce Vasquez (" defendant" ) is charged with one count of distribution of at least fifty grams of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). (Docket No. 1.) Presently before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss the Indictment for violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.
The federal grand jury returned the Indictment in this case on March 3, 2011, and it was unsealed on April 13, 2011. (Docket Nos. 1, 10.) Defendant was not arrested, however, until June 18, 2013, when he attempted to travel from Oakland to Mexico. Defendant contends that the passage of twenty-six months between the time he was indicted and his arrest prejudiced his defense in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial and therefore mandates dismissal of the Indictment.
" 'The Sixth Amendment guarantees that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial.'" United States v. Beamon, 992 F.2d 1009, 1012 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647, 651, 112 S.Ct. 2686, 120 L.Ed.2d 520 (1992)). Speedy trial challenges are assessed under a four-part balancing test that evaluates: " '(1) whether delay before trial was uncommonly long, (2) whether the government or the criminal defendant is more to blame for that delay, (3) whether, in due course, the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial, and (4) whether he suffered prejudice' because of the delay." Id. (quoting Doggett, 505 U.S. at 651).
1. Length of Delay before Trial
Under the first factor, the defendant " must allege that the interval between accusation and trial has crossed the threshold dividing ordinary from 'presumptively prejudicial' delay." Doggett, 505 U.S. at 651-52. " If the accused makes this showing, the court must then consider, as one factor among several, the extent to which the delay stretches beyond the bare minimum needed to trigger judicial examination of the
claim" because " the presumption that pretrial delay has prejudiced the accused intensifies over time." Id. " Depending on the nature of the charges, the lower courts have generally found postaccusation delay 'presumptively prejudicial' at least as it approaches one year." Id. at 652 n.1; see also United States v. Gregory, 322 F.3d 1157, 1161-62 (9th Cir. 2003) (" [C]ourts generally have found that delays approaching one year are presumptively prejudicial." ).
Here, it is undisputed that the twenty-six-month delay  is more than two times the threshold to show presumptive prejudice and thus triggers the presumption of prejudice under the first factor. (Docket No. 93 at 7:21-24.)
2. Attributing Blame for the Delay
" The government has 'some obligation' to pursue a defendant and bring him to trial." United States v. Mendoza, 530 F.3d 758, 762-63 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v. Sandoval, 990 F.2d 481, 485 (9th Cir. 1993)). " [I]f the defendant is not attempting to avoid detection and the government makes no serious effort to find him, the government is considered negligent in its pursuit." Id. at 763 (citing Doggett, 505 U.S. at 653). In Mendoza, the Ninth Circuit held that the government was negligent when it knew the defendant lived out of the country and relied exclusively on " put[ting] a warrant out ...