The “unduly long delay” in bringing a man to trial on a charge of child molesting – 1,291 days – violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial and requires reversing his conviction, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
Scott Logan was charged July 31, 2009, with one count of Class C felony child molesting related to his teenage daughter. Logan requested and was granted five continuances of his pre-trial conference, resulting in a 154-day delay attributable to him. But due to court congestion, his criminal trial was reset seven times. Logan continually asked to be released on his recognizance and have a speedy trial, but the trial court denied his motions.
He was not let out of jail until May 25, 2012, when the Supreme Court ordered his release until his trial began. The justices denied his request for discharge under Criminal Rule 4(C). At that point, he had been in jail for 1,029 days. His trial began Feb. 11, 2013, and he was convicted and sentenced to six years in the Department of Correction.
Logan’s time in jail awaiting trial was almost as long as his sentence when earned good-time credit is considered, the justices pointed out.
The justices looked at Logan’s appeal by analyzing Criminal Rule 4(C) and whether his constitutional rights to a speedy trial were violated.
Justice Steven David noted that the trial court technically complied with Criminal Rule 4(C) when it continued Logan’s case on Feb. 6, 2012, due to another defendant’s trial being schedule to start that same date. The other defendant had filed a Rule 4(B) motion for an early trial. By honoring the 4(B) request, the trial court fulfilled its responsibility of prioritizing motions for a speedy trial, which unfortunately delayed Logan’s trial date.
Although this decision led Logan to spend more time incarcerated, it was not erroneous, the justices held in Scott Logan v. State of Indiana, 20S05-1405-CR-339.
But the overall delay from the day the charge was filed until Logan was brought to trial does require reversal. The federal speedy trial analysis outlined in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), explains four factors to consider: (1) length of the delay; (2) reason(s) for the delay; (3) defendant’s assertion of his or her right; and (4) prejudice to the defendant. All four of these factors weigh in Logan’s favor.
“To prevent the potential for any subsequent violation of a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial due to protracted court congestion, we encourage trial courts to consider setting the defendant’s trial date at his or her first initial hearing and to remain diligent in monitoring the age of these cases. We acknowledge that the State has a vested interest, and indeed an obligation, in monitoring criminal cases to ensure that defendants are brought to justice in a timely manner,” David wrote. This may mean scheduling jury trials to start on a different day of the week or delegate certain tasks to a magistrate to free up resources, he noted.
The justices ordered Logan released from prison and his conviction vacated.