This opinion will be unpublished and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
Gustavo Ramos (a/k/a Pablo Garcia),
Reversed and Remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 00044330
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Jay M. Heffern, Minneapolis City Attorney, Heidi Johnston, Assistant City Attorney, 300 Metropolitan Centre, 333 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Leonardo Castro, Hennepin County Public Defender, Rachelle Loewenson Stratton, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
Respondent Gustavo Ramos (a/k/a
Pablo Garcia) (Ramos) was arrested in
Ramos appeared at suburban divisions
of the Hennepin County District Court on the
According to Ramos’s attorney, a
deputy came to Ramos’s home before November 7, 2005, the date on which he was
to have started electronic home monitoring, to arrest Ramos on the new warrant. Ramos showed the deputy all of his paperwork
The district court record reflects that Ramos posted bail on the warrant on November 23, 2005. On December 6, 2005, he appeared for the first time on the 2000 charge and moved to dismiss for violation of his right to a speedy trial and failure to prosecute.
In support of the motion, Ramos’s attorney made factual assertions based on the case-history report contained in the court file regarding the 2000 charge, as well as court-case histories from Ramos’s various other criminal files in which he had been involved after he failed to appear on the 2000 charge. Each of those subsequent case histories identifies Ramos as Gustavo Ramos or Juan Ramos.
Counsel for appellant concedes that the state should bear some responsibility for the length of time between the 2000 charge and Ramos’s first appearance on the 2000 charge and had no explanation for the failure of other municipalities which had contact with Ramos to notice or pursue the warrant issued for Ramos’s failure to appear when scheduled. But appellant asserts that it was primarily Ramos’s failure to appear for arraignment, despite the fact that he had notice of the 2000 charge and the date of his appearance, which caused the delayed trial. The district court granted Ramos’s motion to dismiss without citing any authority, and this appeal followed.
Appellate courts review
constitutional questions, including a district court’s speedy-trial
determination, de novo. State v. Cham, 680 N.W.2d 121, 124
(Minn. App. 2004), review denied (
An accused has the right to a speedy
trial under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article
I, Section 6 of the Minnesota Constitution.
State v. Windish, 590 N.W.2d
311, 315 (
In deciding whether a defendant’s
right to a speedy trial has been violated, courts apply a four-part test
announced by the United States Supreme Court in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S. Ct. 2182 (1972). State
v. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d 509, 512 (
I. Length of delay
length of delay is a triggering event that determines whether further review of
a speedy-trial claim is warranted. Cham, 680 N.W.2d at 125 (citing Barker, 407
II. Reason for delay
reason-for-delay factor, we must determine “whether the government or the
criminal defendant is more to blame for that delay.” Doggett
In this case, the record consists only of
the transcript of the December 6, 2005, hearing, in which no testimony was taken,
and the computerized case-history record that appears in the district court
file. Ramos relies on cases involving long
delays during which authorities took no action to extradite indicted defendants
despite evidence in the record that authorities were aware, or with minimum
investigation could have become aware, of the defendant’s whereabouts.
counsel in the case before us candidly acknowledged at oral argument that Ramos’s
use of different names should not have prevented authorities from discovering
the outstanding warrant. Counsel
speculated that a clerical error resulted in the notation that Ramos had failed
to appear, made at the time Ramos pleaded to, and was convicted of, the
III. Assertion of right to a speedy trial
It is undisputed that prior to
December 6, 2005, Ramos never appeared on the 2000 charge and therefore never
asserted a right to a speedy trial.
Failure to assert the right “make[s] it difficult for a defendant to
prove that he was denied a speedy trial.”
State v. Huddock, 408 N.W.2d
218, 221 (
Ramos relies on a statement in Sistrunk that the fact that Sistrunk had
not made a demand for a speedy trial could not be weighed against him because
he was not informed of the indictment and no detainer was placed on him. 429 N.W.2d at 282-83. But Ramos received the 2000 charge and knew
the date of his first scheduled appearance in court; therefore, the failure to
appear and demand a speedy trial weighs heavily against Ramos. See
IV. Prejudice to defendant from delay
To determine if Ramos has been
prejudiced by the delay, we examine three interests that the Supreme Court has
identified as “protected by the right to a speedy trial: (1) preventing
oppressive pretrial incarceration; (2) minimizing the anxiety and concern of
the accused; and (3) preventing the possibility that the defense will be
impaired.” Windish, 590 N.W.2d at 318
(citing Barker, 407
The Supreme Court has identified
impairment of defense as the most serious right protected.
Although the length of delay in this case is cause for inquiry, Ramos’s part in causing the delay and failure to demand a speedy resolution of the 2000 charge outweighs any presumed prejudice to his ability to now defend against the charge. The state has been equally prejudiced by the delay. We conclude that, under the totality of the circumstances, the district court erred by dismissing the 2000 charge for a violation of Ramos’s right to a speedy trial.
V. Failure to prosecute
At the 2005 arraignment, Ramos’s counsel based the motion to dismiss on denial of a speedy trial and “failure to prosecute.” Neither Ramos nor the district court cited any authority to support the claim or the finding of failure to prosecute. The state has briefed the issue of whether it was appropriate to dismiss the case under Minn. R. Crim. P. 30.02, which provides that if there is “unnecessary delay” by the prosecution in bringing a defendant to trial, the district court may dismiss the tab charge. Based on the record before us, we conclude that the district court’s reference to failure to prosecute was made in conjunction with its speedy-trial-violation analysis, rather than stated as a separate basis for dismissing the charges. To the extent that the district court intended to dismiss under Minn. R. Crim. P. 30.02, we conclude that the district court abused its discretion because there is no evidence in the record that the state engaged in any unnecessary delay in this case.
Reversed and remanded.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 The issuance of the bench warrant is evident in the court case-history record, but a copy of the actual warrant does not appear in the file.
 None of the related case histories appear in the district court file relating to the 2000 charge, but they have been submitted by the state in its appendix, and both parties agree that this court should consider those records. At oral argument, Ramos’s attorney asserted that those records were presented to and considered by the district court.
 When a district court dismisses a charge for violation of the right to a speedy trial without addressing the Barker factors, this court will apply the Barker factors to the facts under the de novo standard of review. Cham, 680 N.W.2d at 124 (stating that district court erred by failing to apply Barker test, but because we review the matter de novo, we will apply the factors).
Counsel for Ramos argues that Ramos was detained
for 16 days at the workhouse for the Richfield conviction due to the
outstanding warrant for his failure to appear in 2000, but there is no evidence
in the record concerning why or how long Ramos was held at the workhouse before
he was allowed to appear and post bail on the 2000 charge.