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United States v. Koerber

United States District Court, D. Utah

April 12, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CLAUD R. KOERBER, Defendant.

          Robert J. Shelby District Judge

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          PAUL M. WARNER CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         District Judge Robert Shelby referred this case to Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).[1] Before the court are two motions: (1) the government's Motion to Continue Trial and Exclude Time Under the Speedy Trial Act[2] and (2) Defendant Claud R. Koerber's (“Mr. Koerber”) Motion to Reset Pretrial Motion Deadline.[3]

         On April 11, 2017, the court held a status conference to resolve several issues including scheduling. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Stewart C. Walz, Tyler L. Murray, and Ruth J. Hackford-Peer. Mr. Koerber appeared pro se. At the hearing, the court made findings on the record. Consistent with those findings, the court renders the following Memorandum Decision and Order.

         BACKGROUND

         Mr. Koerber is charged in an eighteen count indictment which includes charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.[4] This case involves a long and complex procedural history. Relevant to the present motions, on February 16, 2017, Mr. Koerber appeared before Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse for his initial appearance.[5]Consistent with the Speedy Trial Act (“STA”), Judge Furse scheduled Mr. Koerber's jury trial to begin on April 24, 2017.[6] Additionally, Judge Furse ordered all pretrial motions to be filed by March 23, 2017.[7]

         This case was originally assigned to District Judge Dee V. Benson.[8] On March 14, 2017, Judge Benson held a status conference to discuss scheduling.[9] At the hearing, after discussing the complexity of the case with the parties, Judge Benson indicated his willingness to vacate the April 24, 2017, trial date and begin the trial during the first week in August. At the time, Mr. Koerber was proceeding pro se. Therefore, before vacating the April 24, 2017 trial date, Judge Benson requested that Mr. Koerber meet with attorney Steven Killpack to discuss whether Mr. Koerber would be amenable to Mr. Killpack's assistance. The minute entry for the status conference requested that the government file a motion to continue.[10] Subsequently, Judge Benson recused[11] and the case was eventually reassigned to Judge Shelby for further proceedings.[12]

         On March 14, 2017, Mr. Koerber filed a Motion to Compel.[13] Accordingly, as of the date of this opinion, twenty-six days have run on the time allotted under the STA. See 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)(D).

         DISCUSSION

         The parties agree that this matter will be ready for trial by August 7, 2017. However, the parties dispute which mechanism under the STA the court should utilize to continue the trial date. Additionally, the parties dispute how long they should be given to file pretrial motions.

         A. Speedy Trial Act Continuance

         The government requests that the trial be continued from April 24, 2017, until August 7, 2017, and the period of delay between April 24, 2017, and August 7, 2017, be excluded from the STA calculation.[14] Specifically, the government seeks exclusion of time pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A) and (B).[15] Mr. Koerber agrees that the trial should be continued until August 7, 2017, but argues that the court should rely on the STA's automatic tolling provisions rather than using the ends-of-justice factors under the STA.[16]

         The STA generally requires a federal criminal trial to begin within seventy days from the filing of an information or indictment, or from the date of the defendant's initial appearance, whichever is later. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). The STA “serves two distinct interests: (1) to protect a defendant's right to a speedy indictment and trial, and (2) to serve the public interest in ensuring prompt criminal prosecutions.” United States v. Williams, 511 F.3d 1044, 1047 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). To balance these often competing interests, the STA provides a “detailed scheme under which a number of specified intervals are excluded from the seventy-day computation, thus tolling the speedy trial calendar.” Id. at 1047-48 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)). Relevant here, the STA “permits a district court to grant a continuance and to exclude the resulting interlude if it finds, on the record, that the ends of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.” Id. at 1048 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(8)).

         The STA affords the “trial court substantial discretion to accommodate periods of delay to address the specific needs of a particular case.” Id. at 1049 (citing Zedner v. United States, 547 U.S. 489, 499 (2006)). To make an ends-of-justice finding, the court must consider the following factors:

(i) Whether the failure to grant such a continuance in the proceeding would be likely to make a continuation of such proceeding impossible, or result in a miscarriage of justice.
(ii) Whether the case is so unusual or so complex, due to the number of defendants, the nature of the prosecution, or the existence of novel questions of fact or law, that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself within the time limits established by this section.
(iii) Whether, in a case in which arrest precedes indictment, delay in the filing of the indictment is caused because the arrest occurs at a time such that it is unreasonable to expect return and filing of the indictment within the period specified in section 3161(b), or because the facts upon ...

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