State v. Steigelman

State v. Steigelman, 2013 MT 153 (June 6, 2013) (5-0) (Morris, J.; Baker, J., concurring)

Issue: Whether the state violated Steigelman’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Short Answer: No.



Facts: After hearing a loud crash, a police officer saw a vehicle driven by Steigelman drive onto the median then swerve back onto the road. The officer stopped Steigelman, who admitted drinking and failed to complete the filed sobriety tests. He also refused to provide a breath sample.

Steigelman was charged with felony DUI and two misdemeanors. He was arraigned on Aug. 3, 2009, and released on bail Aug. 6, 2009, after spending 8 days in jail. He did not appear for his omnibus hearing Nov. 9, , and his counsel said he had not been in contact with Steigelman and planned to seek a continuance of the Jan. 19, 2010 trial date. The court rescheduled the omnibus hearing for March 29 and the trial for June 8. Steigelman attended the omnibus hearing in March, and moved to substitute counsel in May. He moved to continue the June 8 trial on May 27, and waived his right to speedy trial as part of the motion. The new trial date was Sept. 28, 2010.

Procedural Posture & Holding: Steigleman moved to dismiss the charges on June 1, 2010, based on the state having violated his right to a speedy trial. The court held a hearing on Oct. 4, 2010, and denied the motion. Steigelman appeals, and the Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: Both the Montana and U.S. Constitutions guarantee a criminal defendant the right to a speedy trial. The court balances four factors: the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, the accused’s responses to the delay, and prejudice to the defendant. None is dispositive. 200 days triggers further speedy trial analysis, regardless of whose fault the delay was. Here, the delay was 426 days. After weighing all four factors, the Court agrees with the district court that although Steigleman suffered substantial pretrial delay, the state did not intentionally delay the trial, and Steigelman failed to show he was prejudiced by the delay.

Justice Baker’s Concurrence (joined by Justice McKinnon): Justice Baker writes to supplement the Court’s discussion of the required showing of prejudice, the fourth speedy-trial factor. Steigelman argues that when the length of delay exceeds the 200-day trigger, the state bears the burden of showing the defendant was not prejudiced. Steigleman argues that the district court erroneously required him to prove actual, substantial prejudice.

“[A]s the delay stretches further beyond the 200-day trigger date, the required showing of prejudice lessens and the required showing of justification increases.” ¶ 33 (citing Ariegwe). Affirmative proof of particularized prejudice is not essential. Here, the combination of factors is not present. “[T]he delay in this case largely was institutional and not attributable to either bad faith or negligence by the State of the sort that would entitle a presumption [of prejudice] to carry the day without any showing of actual prejudice.” ¶ 37.