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Zedner v. United States

Docket No.: 05-5992
Certiorari Granted: Jan 6 2006
Argued: April 18, 2006
Decided: June 5, 2006

Topic:

Criminal Procedure

PartyNames: Jacob Zedner v. United States
Petitioner: Jacob Zedner
Respondent: United States

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Jacob Zedner
v.
United States
547 U.S. 489 (2006)
Background:

The Speedy Trial Act of 1974, as amended, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161-3174 (West 2005), requires the government to bring a criminal defendant who pleads not guilty to trial within 70 days, excluding certain specified periods. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1) & (h). If this time limit is exceeded, the "indictment shall be dismissed on motion of the defendant." 18 U.S.C. § 3162(a)(2). Dismissal may be either "with or without prejudice." 18 U.S.C. § 3162 (a)(2). The Act specifies only one way in which a defendant may waive this right to dismissal, i.e. by not moving to dismiss before trial. 18 U.S.C. § 3162 (a)(2) . This case presents two questions that divide the courts of appeals:

Question Presented:

1. Whether, in light of the statute's text and Congress's goal of protecting the public interest in prompt criminal trials, the requirements of the Speedy Trial Act may be waived only in the limited circumstances mentioned in the statute, the issue left open in New York v. Hill, 528 U.S. 110, 117 n.2 (2000). 2. Whether a violation of the Speedy Trial Act's 70-day time limit for bringing a defendant to trial is subject to harmless-error analysis, despite the statute's mandatory language stating that, in the event of a violation, the "indictment shall be dismissed. "

Question:

(1) May a defendant waive his right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act of 1974? (2) May Zedner, who had previously signed a waiver of his rights under the Act, later base an appeal on the fact that such a waiver was invalid? (3) And was the judge's failure to exempt the 91-day period on the record harmless error?

Holding: judgment reversed and remanded
Vote: 9-0
Opinion By:
Read ZEDNER V. UNITED STATES opinion (PDF)
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