This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Lee Ronald Nesgoda,
Filed January 10, 2006
Carlton County District Court
File No. K9-02-242
Mike Hatch, Attorney General,
1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul,
Thomas H. Pertler,
Mary M. McMahon, McMahon &
Associates Criminal Defense, Ltd.,
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Worke, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
The state appeals from the district court’s order dismissing the complaint against respondent. Because the record supports the district court’s conclusion that respondent’s right to a speedy trial was violated, we affirm.
In February 2002, the state filed a complaint against respondent Lee Nesgoda, charging him with second-degree burglary, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.582, subd. 2a (2000). The state later filed an amended complaint with additional charges of possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(b) (2000), and receiving stolen property, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.53, subd. 1 (2000).
In May 2002, the district court continued a scheduled omnibus hearing and gave the state three additional weeks to provide discovery to Nesgoda. More than a month later, the state requested and received a second continuance of the omnibus hearing. At the rescheduled omnibus hearing in September 2002, the district court gave the state another two weeks to provide discovery to Nesgoda. Nesgoda’s counsel confirmed that there was at that time no speedy-trial demand. At a hearing in February 2003, the state and Nesgoda agreed to an indefinite continuance because the state’s key witness had pending a criminal appeal with “Fifth Amendment complications” that arose from the same events that led to the charges against Nesgoda and because the state was awaiting another judge’s determination of the competency of that witness.
Almost a year and a half later, at a hearing on July 12, 2004, Nesgoda made a speedy-trial demand. At the time, the state’s key witness was confined to the psychiatric ward of a state prison and was not competent to testify. The state conceded at the hearing that it was not certain that it could proceed with the case against Nesgoda without that witness.
A jury trial was scheduled for November 1, 2004. On October 19, 2004, the state requested a continuance, which the district court denied. For reasons not apparent from the record submitted to this court, the scheduled trial was cancelled. At a hearing on March 23, 2005, more than eight months after Nesgoda’s demand for a speedy trial, Nesgoda moved to dismiss the complaint for the violation of his right to a speedy trial. The district court granted the motion, and this appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
it is a constitutional question, a district court’s speedy-trial determination
is subject to de novo review. State v. Cham, 680 N.W.2d 121, 124
(Minn. App. 2004), review denied (
The first Barker factor is the length of the delay. When the length of the delay is
“presumptively prejudicial,” it triggers review of the remaining three
The second Barker factor is the reason for the delay. The state and the courts have the burden of
ensuring speedy trials for criminal defendants.
See id. at 316; Cham, 680
N.W.2d at 125. If a defendant’s own actions
caused the delay, there is no violation of the right to a speedy trial. State
v. Johnson, 498 N.W.2d 10, 16 (
Here, nothing in the record suggests that Nesgoda caused any part of the delay after his demand for a speedy trial. The record shows that eight months passed between Nesgoda’s speedy-trial demand and his motion to dismiss because the competency of the state’s key witness was in question. Nesgoda had already agreed to an indefinite continuance in February 2003 because of the state’s problems with that witness. Almost a year and a half later, in July 2004, the state’s witness was in a prison psychiatric ward, and it was still unknown when, or if, the witness would be competent to testify. Nesgoda then demanded a speedy trial and, more than eight months later, moved for dismissal. Because we conclude that the eight-month delay caused by the unavailability of the state’s witness was extreme, particularly when the state had already had a year and a half to make the witness available, this factor weighs in favor of Nesgoda.
The third Barker factor is whether Nesgoda asserted his right to a speedy trial. It is uncontested that he did so.
The fourth Barker factor is whether the delay prejudiced Nesgoda. To determine whether a delay prejudices a defendant,
this court considers three interests that the right to a speedy trial protects:
(1) preventing lengthy pretrial incarceration;
(2) minimizing the defendant’s anxiety and concern; and (3) preventing possible
impairment to the defendant’s case. Windish, 590 N.W.2d at 318; Cham, 680 N.W.2d at 125. The third interest is the most important. Windish,
590 N.W.2d at 318. But it is difficult
for a defendant to prove exactly how his case is impaired by a delay.
Here, Nesgoda identifies no prejudice caused by the delay in bringing his case to trial. But we conclude that the eight-month delay after the speedy-trial demand was excessive, especially considering that more than three years had passed since Nesgoda was charged, and that, therefore, the delay presumptively compromised the reliability of a trial.
Because the Barker factors weigh in Nesgoda’s favor, we conclude that his right to a speedy trial was violated, and we affirm the district court’s dismissal of the complaint against Nesgoda.