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U.S. Supreme Court Sharpens the Teeth of the Speedy Trial Act
By Joseph W. Ryan Jr.
The recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Zedner1
will have a direct and lasting impact on the day-to-day management of
federal criminal cases, and will provide an enhanced weapon for defense
counsel seeking dismissal of an indictment for undue delay. No longer
can the defendant be blamed for a court’s failure to provide a speedy
trial as required by the Speedy Trial Act of 19742 (“Act”). Nor can a
peripheral defendant in a multi-defendant indictment be ignored or
abused by the prosecution’s power to subject a defendant to interminable
delays because of its focus on the main-targeted defendants.
The Speedy Trial Act requires that a trial take place within 70 days
after arraignment on the indictment unless the court suspends the speedy
trial clock for periods of time authorized under the Act. In Zedner,
the Supreme Court set the landscape for enforcement of the Act. The
Court held that under the Act, the defendant has been assigned the ro
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