United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO
CONTINUE JURY TRIAL
STEWART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Continue Jury Trial. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court will grant the Motion and continue the trial to October
February 17, 2016, the grand jury returned an Indictment
against Defendant, charging him with conspiracy to commit
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
(“SNAP”) benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit
money laundering. Defendant first appeared before the Court
on February 24, 2016. Defendant was ordered detained.
status conference was conducted on March 21, 2016, at which
time a trial was set for May 31, 2016. Upon a motion from the
government, the trial date was continued to October 3, 2016.
9, 2016, the Court agreed to release Defendant on conditions.
Soon thereafter, Defendant absconded until his arrest on June
14, 2017. A Superseding Indictment was issued on June 21,
2017, adding a charge of failure to appear. Defendant
appeared on the Superseding Indictment on July 10, 2017. At
that time, a trial date was set for September 18, 2017.
Defendant now seeks a continuance.
Court considers the following factors when considering a
motion to continue trial:
the diligence of the party requesting the continuance; the
likelihood that the continuance, if granted, would accomplish
the purpose underlying the party's expressed need for the
continuance; the inconvenience to the opposing party, its
witnesses, and the court resulting from the continuance; the
need asserted for the continuance and the harm that [the
moving party] might suffer as a result of the district
court's denial of the continuance.
factors are weighed according to the dictates of the case.
“No single factor is determinative and the weight given
to any one may vary depending on the extent of the
[defendant's] showing on the others.” Considering these
factors, the Court finds that a continuance is appropriate,
but not to the extent requested by Defendant.
the Court finds that defense counsel has been largely
diligent. Counsel acted diligently in the early stages of
this case, pursuing various motions including motions to
dismiss. However, after Defendant absconded, counsel's
efforts decreased and they eventually “discontinued
investigation.” While the Court cannot fault counsel for
trying to effectively utilize limited resources, certain
tasks could have been accomplished even with Defendant's
absence. Overall, however, the Court finds that defense
counsel have been diligent in their efforts to prepare for
trial. Therefore, this factor favors a continuance.
the Court finds that granting a continuance would accomplish
the purpose underlying Defendant's expressed need for the
continuance. Defendant has identified several reasons for his
requested continuance, including: the complexity of the case;
the unavailability of Defendant to assist in trial
preparation; the difficulty of locating witnesses; the loss
of defense counsel's main investigator and the need for a
new investigator to become knowledgeable in the matter; the
need to hire a forensic accountant to testify at trial; the
need to investigate Defendant's past potential brain
injuries; and the need for a longer trial setting. Not all of
these considerations provide a valid basis for a continuance.
For example, the fact that Defendant absented himself from
these proceedings, impeding his counsel's efforts to
prepare, does not provide a sufficient basis for a
continuance. Other factors, such as the need for a longer
trial setting, are similarly inappropriate
considerations. However, when considered as a whole, these
factors justify a continuance. Defense counsel will not be
adequately prepared to present a constitutionally sufficient
defense with the current trial setting. Therefore, this
factor weighs in favor of a continuance.
there is no specific inconvenience to the government, its
witnesses, and the Court resulting from the continuance. The
Court is cognizant of the government's general interest
in asserting its and the public's right to a speedy
trial. However, the government was unaware of any specific
witness availability concerns should a continuance be
granted. Defendant's Motion was filed far enough in
advance of trial that the Court will not suffer any
inconvenience if a continuance is granted. Jury notices have
not been sent and the Court has yet to begin substantial
trail preparations. Therefore, while recognizing the interest
of the government and the public in a speedy trial, this
factor does not weigh against granting a continuance.
the Court finds that Defendant will suffer harm if denied a
continuance. Based on Defendant's Motion, the Court
concludes that the failure to grant a continuance would
impair Defendant's ability to present an adequate
defense. Therefore, this factor weighs in favor of granting a
continuance and the trial will be continued. However, the
Court will not grant Defendant the full extension requested.
The Court will grant a modest extension to October 23, 2017.
The Court believes this continuance will ...