Can a defendant have his case dismissed, on the grounds that his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated, when his own public defender has requested or otherwise caused all of the delays?
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides defendants with the right to a speedy trial. In July of 2001, Michael Brillon was charged with aggravated domestic violence, and was ultimately sentenced to twelve-to-twenty years confinement. However, due to excessive delays before his trial caused solely by his public defenders, the Supreme Court of Vermont vacated his conviction and dismissed the charges with prejudice. The questions the United States Supreme Court will have to decide is whether delays caused by an indigent's public defenders' lack of preparedness can be the basis for a sixth amendment right to a speedy trial violation, on the theory that the state is responsible for providing adequate public defenders to indigents; and if so, does this give greater rights to indigent defendants than defendants with private attorneys?
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
1. Whether continuances and delays caused solely by an indigent defendant's public defender can arise to a speedy trial right violation, and be charged against the State pursuant to the test in Barker v. Wingo