Monday, July 15, 2013

Speed Trial Act Requires Motion Prior to Trial

US v. Cherry: Cherry was charged with gun and drug charges arising from an attempted traffic stop and chase.  He was arrested on state charges in March 2010, indicted on federal charges in July, then released to the federal detainer in April 2011.  He was tried in September 2011 and was convicted.  After the jury's verdict, but prior to the jurors being polled, the district court explained that they were not allowed to hear everything, including information about Cherry's prior criminal history.

On appeal, Cherry argued that his convictions should be reversed, for two reasons.  The Fourth Circuit rejected them both and affirmed his convictions.  First, Cherry argued that his prosecution violated the Speedy Trial Act.  The facts of that claim aren't developed in the opinion because the court concluded that Cherry waived his right to raise that issue by failing to raise it prior to trial.  Second, Cherry argued that the district court's remarks to the jury about Cherry's criminal history prior to polling them was error.  Reviewing for plain error, the court held that there was error and it was plain, but that Cherry could not demonstrate prejudice because "the evidence against him was overwhelming" and the circumstances indicated that the remarks did not impact the verdict.

NOTE: This case was decided on June 13, 2013

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