No Speedy Trial violation for six day delay even though the court did not make factual findings for the continuance
In this appeal, Hughes was charged with knowingly possessing a firearm and ammunition as a twice convicted felon. Witnesses at a bar told police he was brandishing a gun and a police officer retrieved a gun from a trash can in the vicinity of the spot Hughes had stood. Fingerprints were found on the gun but were not linked to Hughes until almost two years later when the police ran them through a law enforcement fingerprint identification system matching Hughes’ prints to the gun. Following his arrest the government filed a motion to detain Hughes pending trial. Hughes’ attorney requested a six day continuance which was granted by the judge but did not make any factual findings or give any reasons for granting Hughes’s request for a continuance.
Prior to the trial Hughes moved to dismiss his indictment for a violation of the Speedy Trial Act arguing that the period of delay resulting from the court granting of a continuance was only excludable if the court stated in the record the reasons for finding that the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.
During trial the trial judge allowed the government to offer in evidence the Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) report as a business record. Hughes challenged its admission because the report contained hearsay and violated his right under the Confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment since he had no opportunity to cross examine the anonymous 911 caller documented in the CAD report. Hughes also raised a Batson challenge to the government’s strike of the only African American member of the venire. Hughes challenged a jury instruction that allowed the jury to find that if it found the defendant gave a false statement to the police in order to divert suspicion from himself, the jury could infer he was guilty.
The appeals court found no federal criminal speedy trial violation because the judge’s failure to make an on-the-record ends-of-justice finding did not render the period of time non-excludable. The government’s oral motion for a pretrial detention hearing automatically stopped the Speedy Trial clock until the court disposed of that motion.
As for the Batson challenge, the appellate court found the government adequately explained its reasons for the strike because juror had committed a felony and violated the terms of his probation. Additionally the government justified the strike because he gave inconsistent answers during voir dire. Even if these were irrational or silly reasons, they were not facially discriminatory reasons. Striking him for his criminal background in a criminal case could have been a race neutral reasonable trial strategy.
As for the challenge to the admission of the CAD report into evidence because it contained testimonial statements in violation of the confrontational clause, the court found the statements were non-testimonial. The primary purpose of the statements was to provide information to the officers who are responding in the field in real-time to allow them to address whatever ongoing emergency is being reported.
As for the jury instruction, the court found that the statement by a defendant of disbelieve by the jury may be considered as substantive evidence of the defendant’s guilt.