January 14, 2013
The State of Louisiana indicted Jonathan Edward Boyer for the murder of Bradlee Marsh in 2002, but the case did not proceed to trial until 2009. The trial resulted in Boyer’s conviction, and a state appellate court affirmed. Boyer now argues before the Supreme Court that Louisiana violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Specifically, Boyer alleges that five years of delay were caused entirely by Louisiana’s failure to fund his appointed, capitally-certified counsel and that this funding failure should be weighed against the state. Louisiana counters that Boyer has no constitutional right to capitally-certified counsel and that Boyer, not the State, is responsible for the delay. In resolving the question presented, the Supreme Court will determine whether a state’s failure to fund appointed, specially-qualified counsel for an indigent capital defendant should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes. The decision may substantially affect indigent defendants’ constitutional rights as well as state procedures for providing indigent capital defense.
Whether a state’s failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years, particularly where failure was the direct result of the prosecution’s choice to seek the death penalty, should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes?
Whether the State of Louisiana’s five-year failure to fund appointed, specially-qualified counsel for an indigent defendant in a capital case should be weighed against the State for speedy trial purposes?