Monday, April 14, 2008

Civil Arrest Does Not Start Speed Trial Clock

US v. Rodriguez-Amaya: Rodriguez-Amaya was deported in 1998 to El Salvador following a conviction in Virginia for sexual assault. He returned to the United States without permission and was arrested by ICE on May 17, 2005. On June 6, 2005, Rodriguez-Amaya's custody was transferred from ICE to Virginia, which sought to prosecute him for failure to register as a sex offender. While in Virginia custody, a federal criminal warrant charging Rodriguez-Amaya with illegal reentry was obtained on July 21, 2005. Rodriguez-Amaya was returned to ICE custody on October 7, 2005. It was not until October 27, 2005, that the outstanding criminal warrant was executed and Rodriguez-Amaya was transferred to the USMS. On November 23, 2005, Rodriguez-Amaya was indicted. Prior to trial, he moved to dismiss the indictment under the Speed Trial Act due to the delay from being returned to ICE custody on October 7 to indictment on November 23. The district court denied the motion, convicted Rodriguez-Amaya, and sentenced him to 41 months in prison.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Rodriguez-Amaya's motion. The court held that the Speedy Trial Act clock did not start running until the federal criminal warrant was executed on October 27. The court followed the lead of other Circuits and concluded that the civil detention, as in this case by ICE, does not trigger the running of the STA clock. However, the court also held that there is a "ruse exception" to that rule, which applies when "the 'primary or exclusive purpose of the civil detention was to hold [a defendant] for future criminal prosecution.'" The court had "little trouble" concluding that there was no evidence of such shenanigans in this case.

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