Saturday, November 2, 2013

Barker v. Wingo case brief

Barker v. Wingo case brief summary
407 U.S. 514 (1972)

Petitioner in a habeas corpus action sought a writ of certiorari from a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief on the basis that petitioner had waived his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.

  • Two suspects were arrested for killing an elderly couple. 
  • The state had a stronger case against Manning so it planned to try Manning first so that he would then testify at Barker’s (the D's) trial. 
  • The state encountered many problems with Manning’s trial. 
  • After six trials and over four years, Manning was finally convicted of both murders. 
  • During this time, the state continued to request continuances in Barker’s trial. 
  • In total, it made 16 such requests. 
  • Upon the state’s 12th request, Barker filed a motion to dismiss the indictment but his motion was denied and the continuance was granted. 
  • Barker then objected to the state’s 15th request for a continuance. 
  • By this time, Manning’s trials were over but the request was denied and the continuance granted because the state’s chief investigating officer was ill. 
  • The witness was still unable to testify when the new trial date came around so an additional continuance was granted. 
  • Barker again requested that the indictment be dismissed, stating his right to a speedy trial had been violated. 
  • This motion was denied. 
  • Finally the trial commenced and Barker was convicted. 
  • The state court of appeals affirmed Barker's conviction.
  • Barker then petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for habeas corpus but the court ruled that he had waived his right to a speedy trial for the entire period before he objected to the state’s 15th request for a continuance. 
  • The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

  • The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court judgment that petitioner, who challenged his criminal conviction in a habeas corpus proceeding, had not been deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy trial. 
  • The rule that the Court adopted and used as a factor in determining whether the speedy trial right had been denied was whether or not he had asserted his right. 
  • However, a waiver of that right could not be presumed, except as to delay caused by petitioner. 
  • The conduct of both the prosecution and petitioner were to be balanced, taking into account petitioner's assertion of the right, prejudice to petitioner, the length of delay, and the reasons for the delay. 
  • Given the minimal prejudice and the fact that petitioner had not wanted a speedy trial, petitioner's rights had not been violated.


The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court finding that petitioner's speedy trial right had not been violated because he had not wanted a speedy trial, and because he had not been prejudiced by the delay.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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