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United States v. Deruiter

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

April 8, 2017


          OPINION AND ORDER [1]


         This matter comes before the Court on Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Mac R. McCoy (Doc. 186) filed on March 3, 2017. Judge McCoy recommends denying Defendant Donnie Deruiter's (“Deruiter”) Motion to Dismiss Indictment. (Doc. 181). Deruiter has filed timely objections to the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 197). The Report and Recommendation is ripe for review.


         On April 30, 2014, a grand jury indicted Deruiter on two counts of child pornography. (Doc. 1). Seven months later, Deruiter moved for a hearing on his competency. (Doc. 23). Since then, Deruiter's competency has been fervently debated and the subject of multiple motions, status conferences, and two competency hearings. Moreover, Deruiter's competency and the related proceedings are integral to his Motion to Dismiss. In Deruiter's Motion to Dismiss, he argued that two periods of delay were the Government's fault, and thus the Government violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. (Doc. 181). Specifically he argues, the delays from December 22, 2016 until April 20, 2016 and from August 12, 2016 to the present are attributable to the Government's actions or inactions.

         Judge McCoy correctly evaluated Deruiter's Motion under the Barker balancing test to determine if Deruiter's constitutional right to speedy trial was violated. See Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972). Against that backdrop, Judge McCoy found that the length of delay weighed against the Government, but the other three factors weighed against Deruiter. As such, Judge McCoy recommended that Deruiter's constitutional right to a speedy trial was not violated and that his motion be denied. (Doc. 186).


         A district court may refer a motion to dismiss indictment to a magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court must make a de novo determination of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which specific objections are made. See 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1). “A specific objection must identify the portions of the proposed findings and recommendation to which objection is made and the specific bases for objection.” Kohser v. Protective Life Corp., 649 F. App'x 774, 777 (11th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). After a careful review of a report and recommendation, the district court may adopt, reject, or modify the magistrate judge's finding and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); United States v. Powell, 628 F.3d 1254, 1256 (11th Cir. 2010); see also Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir. 1982). The district court must review legal conclusions de novo, even in the absence of an objection. See Cooper-Houston v. S. Ry. Co., 37 F.3d 603, 604 (11th Cir. 1994).


         A violation of speedy trial must end in dismissal of the indictment. Strunk v. United States, 412 U.S. 434, 440, (1973). Courts approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis and consider four factors when deciding whether a defendant has been deprived of his right. Barker, 407 U.S. at 530. The factors are the (1) length of delay; (2) reason for delay; (3) defendant's assertion of his right; and (4) prejudice to the defendant. Id.“The right of a speedy trial is necessarily relative. It is consistent with delays and depends upon circumstances. It secures rights to a defendant. It does not preclude the rights of public justice.” Beavers v. Haubert, 198 U.S. 77, 87 (1905). The right to a speedy trial is “amorphous, ” “slippery, ” and “necessarily relative.” Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81, 89 (2009) (citation omitted). Here, Deruiter objects only to Judge McCoy's findings on the second and third Barker factors. (Doc. 197). The Court will address these factors in turn.

         A. Reason for Delay

         Deruiter raises three objections to Judge McCoy's findings concerning the second Barker factor. (Doc. 197). First, he argues that the Government failed to timely request additional testing for Dr. Buigas. (Doc. 197 at 2). Second, Deruiter maintains that Judge McCoy incorrectly concluded that Deruiter conceded he could have introduced the additional medical records at the first competency hearing. Indeed, Deruiter maintains that it was impossible and unnecessary for him to do so. (Doc. 197 at 5). Finally, Deruiter argues that he is not responsible for any delay associated with the volume of additional medical records. (Doc. 197 at 8).

         The second Barker factor asks “whether the government or the criminal defendant is more to blame for th[e] delay . . . .”[2] Doggett v. U.S., 505 U.S. 647, 651 (1992). “The government bears the burden of establishing valid reasons for the delay.” United States v. Villarreal, 613 F.3d 1344, 1351 (11th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). Different reasons for delay are attributed different weight. See United States v. Avalos, 541 F.2d 1100, 1111 (5th Cir. 1976). Reasons for delay fall into three categories: (1) deliberate delay; (2) negligent delay; or (3) justified delay. Id. at 1111-13. A deliberate delay can be categorized as “[a] deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper the defense” and it is “weighed heavily against the government.” Barker, 407 U.S. at 531. A negligent delay “should be weighed less heavily but nevertheless should be considered since the ultimate responsibility for such circumstances must rest with the government rather than the defendant.” Id. Finally, a “valid reason” justifies appropriate delay. Id.

         Generally, courts have found that delays associated with competency hearings are valid reasons to delay. See United States v. Walker, No. 3:09CR366-HEH, 2010 WL 2976049, at *6 (E.D. Va. July 28, 2010) (discussing the second prong of the Barker analysis when a delay is attributed to a mental capacity defense); see also United States v. Abou-Kassem, 78 F.3d 161, 167 (5th Cir. 1996) (finding that defendant waived his right to speedy sentencing when he filed, after his conviction, a motion to determine his then-mental condition); United States v. Jackson, 542 F.2d 403, 407 (7th Cir. 1976) (attributing time associated with psychiatric evaluation to defendant and attributing delay associated with evaluation by Government's expert as a neutral reason). Other courts have found delays associated with a defendant's ...

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