Each of these Sixth Amendment Court Cases is somehow significant to the way the Supreme Court has interpreted the Speedy Trial Clause in the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution. Well, most are significant, some are just interesting! You can read about the history and meaning of the Sixth Amendment here.
The Barker vs. Wingo, 1972, case lays out the Court's method for determining if someone's
right to a speedy trial has been violated. The Court decided that
Speedy Trial Clause violation claims must be decided on a case by case
basis, but they did identify four factors that might affect the
decision for lower courts to follow. These four factors are:
Using these criteria, the Court found that a murder conviction after a five year wait did not amount to a speedy trial violation. The main factor was that the defendant did not assert that his right to a speedy trial was being violated until three and a half years had passed.
In Strunk vs. United States, 1973, the defendant claimed that he had been
denied a speedy trial in a federal automobile theft case, even
though he was already in a state prison on other state charges. The district
court denied his motion.
The Appeals court agreed that he had been denied his right to a speedy trial, but said that the extreme nature of overturning the conviction was not warranted and sent the case back to the district court, instructing it to reduce the sentence by 259 days, the length of the delay.
On appeal to the Supreme Court, the Court made it clear that the only remedy for a right to speedy trial violation is to throw out the conviction. The right that is being protected is the defendant's right to not have a lengthy wait between arrest or indictment and the trial. If this right is violated, then the case must be thrown out.
In Smith vs. Hooey, 1969, the defendant was in a federal prison when he was charged with a
Texas crime. Seven years later, the defendant was still in federal prison,
and the State of Texas still had not prosecuted its case. The defendant
claimed that his right to a speedy trial had been violated.
The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court agreed that the defendant's right to a speedy trial had been violated and that the charges must be dropped because the state had not even made an effort to try the case. The Court's ruling included the following statement about the purpose of the Speedy Trial Clause in the 6th Amendment:
"...this constitutional guarantee has universally been thought essential to protect at least three basic demands of criminal justice in the Anglo-American legal system: to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial to minimize anxiety and concern accompanying public accusation and to limit the possibilities that long delay will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself."
Read more about the history and meaning of the Speedy Trial Clause here.
Read more about the history and meaning of the 6th Amendment here.
Learn more about Sixth Amendment relating to the following Sixth Amendment clauses:
Sixth Amendment Court Cases - Public Trial Clause
Sixth Amendment Court Cases - Right to Trial by Jury Clause
Sixth Amendment Court Cases - Arraignment Clause
Sixth Amendment Court Cases - Confrontation Clause
Sixth Amendment Court Cases - Compulsory Process Clause
Sixth Amendment Court Cases - Right to Counsel Clause
Thanks for reading about these Sixth Amendment Cases with
Revolutionary War and Beyond!
If you would like to read about the meanings of each amendment, go to the First Ten Amendments page here.
Amendments: Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Learn about the 1st Amendment here.
Learn about the 2nd Amendment here.
Learn about the 3rd Amendment here.
Learn about the 4th Amendment here.
Learn about the 5th Amendment here.
Learn about the 6th Amendment here.
Learn about the 7th Amendment here.
Learn about the 8th Amendment here.
Learn about the 9th Amendment here.
Learn about the 10th Amendment here.
Read the Bill of Rights here.
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