Hopper v. Texas (original by presiding judge keller)Annotate this Case
In this case, the issue before the Court of Criminal Appeals was how a trial court should weigh a defendant’s failure to exercise his right to a speedy trial under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers when analyzing a claim that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Appellant was indicted in 1993 for an offense that he committed in Texas, but his trial did not take place until 2015. During most of that period of time, he was incarcerated in Nebraska for crimes he had committed there. Although he was informed of his right to be transferred to Texas under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD) for his Texas charge, he never invoked that right. The State also had a right to obtain appellant’s presence in Texas under the IAD, but did not invoke that right until 2013. In rejecting appellant’s complaint, the court of appeals assessed and balanced the four factors articulated by the Supreme Court in Barker v. Wingo: (1) the length of delay, (2) the reasons for delay, (3) the defendant’s assertion of the right, and (4) prejudice to the defendant. Although the court of appeals found that the length-of-delay factor weighed heavily against the State and that the reasons-for-delay factor weighed against the State (but not heavily), the court also found that the assertion-of-right factor weighed heavily against the defendant and that the prejudice factor did not weigh in the defendant’s favor. The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with most of the court of appeals’s reasoning but determined that, because the defendant and the State had an equal ability to bring the case to a speedy resolution by invoking the IAD, both parties were equally at fault under the reasons-for-delay factor. Consequently, that factor did not weigh against either party.