Friday, March 06, 2009

You can't be un-arraigned

Washburn student intern Julia Mowers and I won in State v. Douglas, No. 99,651 (Kan. App. March 6, 2009)(unpublished), affirming Judge Miller's dismissal order on statutory speedy trial grounds. The claim arose after the parties had negotiated a plea agreement and Mr. Douglas had entered a no contest plea, but then the judge realized he had a conflict and allowed Mr. Douglas to withdraw his plea to go before another judge. The next judge also had a conflict and sent the case to yet another judge. And then the case fell though the cracks. For the next 10 months. When the case finally got back on the radar screen, Mr. Douglas filed a motion to dismiss and Judge Miller granted it.

The state's attack was two-fold: (1) when Mr. Douglas withdrew his appeal, he was no longer arraigned and (2) the time should be counted against Mr. Douglas because he asked for another judge. The COA reviewed the two statutes defining arraingment and noted that neither required a completed plea-only that the defendant be called to enter a plea. As a result, the withdrawal of a plea did not in some way invalidate the original arraignment. On the second point, the COA held that, even if some of the time should be counted against Mr. Douglas (a point not entirely clear to the COA), only a reasonable amount of time should be so counted. Even if you count the time between arraignment and the first resetting against Mr. Douglas and then count another month against Mr. Douglas (a reasonable time for another resetting), the state still wasn't even close to the 180 day limit. So, as a result, the COA affirmed the dismissal.

[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on April 9, 2009.]

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