USA v. Mearis, No. 21-20047 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of five counts of sex trafficking. He appealed his conviction, arguing that his right to a speedy trial was violated, that there is insufficient evidence to support one count of his conviction, and that the prosecutor made an improper remark in her closing argument.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court explained that under the Speedy Trial Act the federal government must file an information or indictment against the defendant “within thirty days from the date on which such individual was arrested or served with a summons in connection with such charges” otherwise the charges must be dismissed. Defendant argues that the Speedy Trial Act clock must include his detention by state authorities as the state charges were a “ruse” to avoid its reach in that State and federal authorities cannot “collude” to detain a defendant “solely for the purpose of bypassing the requirements of the Speedy Trial Act.” Here, the court held that the state had a legitimate and independent reason to detain Defendant and was not holding him primarily as a ruse for the federal government’s eventual arrest, Defendant was not denied his right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act. Further, Defendant was unable to show that the length of the delay was prejudicial.