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Showing posts from December, 2009

Intentional 45 month delay in bringing defendant to trial violated defendant's Sixth Amendment speedy trial rights

In a rare reversal of a district court's speedy trial decision, the Third Circuit in United States v. Battis, 08-2949 (3d Cir. December 14, 2009), concluded that the government's intentional 45 month delay in bringing the defendant to trial violated the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. The Court reversed the district court's judgment denying defendant's speedy trial motion and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the indictment and vacate the defendant's conviction.

The case arose out of a bar fight in Philadelphia. The defendant, Germaine Battis, was arrested by Philadelphia police for, among other things, illegally possessing a firearm. He was arraigned in state court on January 20, 2004. One month later, on February 24, 2004, Battis was indicted in federal court for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. A federal bench warrant was issued as a detainer because Battis was in state custody, but the detainer was never formall…

Rehabilitation cannot be used to justify term of imprisonment, even if other factors are cited as well

The Third Circuit this week, in U.S. v. Hoffa, No. 08-3920 (3d Cir. 12/2/09), reiterated that 18 U.S.C. 3582(a) prohibits courts from using rehabilitation (including medical treatment) to justify imprisonment or to set the amount of imprisonment that will be served. The Court had previously so held in U.S. v. Manzella, 475 F.3d 152 (3d Cir. 2007). But in Manzella, rehabilitation was the only justification given, whereas the district court in Hoffa cited rehabiliation as well as incapacitation. The Court saw no distinction, holding that the plain meaning of 3582(a) prohibits the use of rehabiliation as "a factor" in imprisonment descisions.

The Court again pointed out, as it did in Manzella, that rehabiliation can play a role in fashioning the overall sentence (including probation/release conditions, program recommendations during imprisonment, etc), but just not in determining the fact or length of any imprisonment portion of the sentence.