People in Interest of G.S.S., 2019 COA 4

In this appeal of a juvenile court’s order dismissing charges against a juvenile, the Court of Appeals considers the statutory provisions guaranteeing juveniles a speedy trial and the proper remedy for violation of those provisions.

G.S.S. was originally placed on a no-bond hold, pending psychological and risk-assessment evaluations. After several months of hearings regarding G.S.S.’s release from detention, defense counsel moved to dismiss the case for violation of G.S.S.’s statutory speedy trial rights. The juvenile court granted the motion and dismissed the case with prejudice. The prosecution appealed.

The Court of Appeals considers the various speedy trial provisions in the Children’s Code, sections 19-2-108(2)(d) and 19-2-708(1), then concludes that these provisions require the juvenile to be tried within sixty days of the entry of a not guilty plea unless the juvenile has requested a jury trial or waived or extended the speedy trial period. For juveniles on a no-bond hold, section 19-2-508 requires a trial within sixty days unless a jury trial has been requested. Section 19-2-509(4)(b) clarifies that for juveniles held without bond, the speedy trial clock is triggered by either the entry of a not guilty plea or a no-bond hold order, “whichever date is earlier.” Acknowledging the potential conflict between section 19-2-508’s reference to general speedy trial statutes’ not guilty plea and the no bond hold language in section 19-2-509, the Court of Appeals concludes that the more specific provisions of section 19-2-509 govern over section 19-2-508.

Applying these provisions to the circumstances of the case, the Court of Appeals concludes that the no-bond hold order at the initial detention hearing triggered the speedy trial clock for G.S.S., requiring him to be tried within sixty days of that order. While the Court did not set a trial date within that timeframe, the prosecution argued on appeal that G.S.S.’s actions constituted a waiver of his speedy trial rights. The Court of Appeals rejects each argument, reasoning that G.S.S. was not required to request a jury trial and that defense counsel’s requests for continuances of various court hearings regarding G.S.S.’s release from detention did not delay the setting or occurrence of a trial within the required sixty-day period. The Court of Appeals also rejects the prosecution’s argument that defense counsel had an obligation to alert the court and prosecution to the speedy trial issue, reasoning “it is the court’s and the prosecutor’s duty, not a defendant’s, to ensure that the speedy trial provisions are met.”
The Court of Appeals concludes that dismissal was the proper remedy for G.S.S.’s speedy trial rights and affirms the trial court’s dismissal of the charges.

January 10, 2019

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