This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Ronnie L. Snyder,
Fillmore County District Court
File No. K4-99-603
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Brett A. Corson, Fillmore County Attorney, Courthouse, 101 Fillmore Street, P.O. Box 307, Preston, MN 55965 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Jodie Lee Carlson, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3097 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Klaphake, Judge.
This case arises from Ronnie Snyder’s theft of a Harmony police car, which he totaled at the end of a high-speed chase during his successful escape that began after police handcuffed him and left him in the back seat. Snyder appeals from his conviction of theft of a motor vehicle, arguing that the delay in extraditing him to Minnesota for prosecution violated his right to a speedy trial under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers. He also argues that the delay violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial and that the district court erred by refusing his request to appoint substitute or standby counsel before his trial. Because we hold that the timing provisions of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers were not triggered, that Snyder suffered no constitutional violation from the delay in bringing him to trial, and that Snyder has no constitutional right to substitute or standby counsel, we affirm.
The state’s attempt to bring Ronnie Snyder to trial for automobile theft has taken six years, which Snyder contends is too long. It began following a traffic stop in Harmony in November 1999 after police arrested Snyder on a burglary warrant, handcuffed him behind his back, and secured him in the back seat of the police car. As the officers were busy searching Snyder’s car, they heard the Harmony police car shift into gear. Snyder apparently had slipped his handcuffed hands to his front and wriggled himself through an opening in the partition separating the back seat from the driver’s seat. The officers saw the police car race away with Snyder at the wheel. The ensuing automobile chase reached speeds of approximately 75 miles per hour, and it ended when Snyder lost control and crashed the police car, totaling it. Snyder escaped on foot, evading officers during an extensive search. Fillmore County charged Snyder with motor-vehicle theft, criminal damage to property, escape, and fleeing a police officer, and a judge issued a felony warrant for his arrest.
Snyder surfaced a month later in Winnebago County, Illinois. Police there arrested him on the Minnesota warrant and on unrelated Illinois charges. The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department asked Illinois police to hold Snyder on the warrant.
On January 13, 2000, Snyder executed a waiver of extradition to Fillmore County in Winnebago County Court, and the State of Illinois dismissed the Winnebago County charges. A week later, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department informed Winnebago County officials that McLean County, Illinois, also had a felony warrant for Snyder and that McLean County officials would pick him up. Fillmore County told Winnebago County that it would wait for McLean County to finish with Snyder before extraditing him. McLean County took Snyder into custody on January 21.
Three months later, Snyder was convicted, sentenced, and incarcerated in the Illinois correctional system on the McLean County charges. McLean County notified Fillmore County of Snyder’s incarceration. The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department sent a letter to the Fillmore County Attorney seeking assistance with the extradition procedures, but no extradition proceedings were begun.
The State of Illinois released Snyder on parole on July 24, 2003. Three months later, Snyder showed up in Iowa. Iowa police arrested him and returned him to Illinois to face parole-violation charges. Because Fillmore County’s arrest warrant remained outstanding, Iowa authorities also notified Fillmore County of Snyder’s apprehension.
Fillmore County filed a detainer against Snyder on January 3, 2004, seeking to extradite him to Minnesota after he completed his Illinois sentence. Illinois authorities informed Fillmore County that Snyder’s projected release date was November 29, 2004. After he learned of the detainer, Snyder moved to dismiss the Fillmore County charges, alleging that the Fillmore County charges are void under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers because Fillmore County failed to bring him to trial within 180 days after his extradition waiver in January 2000. The district court denied his motion. In November, Fillmore County initiated extradition proceedings to return Snyder to Minnesota. Fillmore County obtained a governor’s warrant and extradited Snyder, holding him in the county jail beginning January 29, 2005.
Snyder moved to dismiss for failure to bring him to trial within 180 days after his extradition waiver, which he claimed constituted a request for disposition under the IAD, and for violating his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The district court found that Snyder failed to comply with the requirements of the IAD and it denied the motion. Snyder wrote to the district court in May requesting appointment of new counsel and, one month later, moved the court to reconsider its denial of his motion. The district court denied that motion also. On August 29, 2005, Snyder entered pleas of not guilty and two days later he demanded a speedy trial for the first time.
Snyder informed the district court in late September 2005 that he no longer wished to be represented by his court-appointed counsel. One week later the district court conducted a hearing on Snyder’s motion to discharge his counsel. During that hearing, Snyder indicated both that he wanted to represent himself and that he believed he was not mentally competent to do so. The district court therefore ordered Snyder to undergo a mental-competency evaluation, which revealed that he was competent to represent himself.
On the scheduled trial date in October, Snyder executed a written waiver of his right to a jury trial, and the district court accepted the waiver. Immediately before trial, Snyder requested the appointment of a different public defender or standby counsel. The district court denied his request, informing Snyder that he did not have the right to choose his appointed counsel or to have standby counsel appointed. After making motions in limine, Snyder requested the court to reappoint his prior public defender and the court did so. Snyder agreed to a fact-stipulated trial pursuant to the procedure outlined in State v. Lothenbach, 296 N.W.2d 854, 857-58 (Minn. 1980), based on the complaint and the police reports.
The district court found Snyder guilty on all four counts. It sentenced him to 26 months’ imprisonment for motor-vehicle theft and ordered him to pay restitution to the City of Harmony for destroying the police car. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Snyder first argues that his conviction must be reversed because the state violated the timing requirements of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), Minn. Stat. § 629.294, subd. 1 (2004). The argument fails based on the IAD’s plain language.
Snyder maintains that the IAD required the state to bring him to trial within 180 days after December 6, 1999, when he contends that Fillmore County lodged a detainer by requesting that Winnebago County hold Snyder on the Minnesota warrant. The argument has a dispositive, threshold flaw: the IAD did not apply to Snyder in December 1999. By its terms, the IAD applies only to persons who are under “a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution.” Minn. Stat. § 629.294, Art. III(a) (2004); see also United States v. Bayless, 940 F.2d 300, 303-04 (8th Cir. 1991) (holding that IAD does not apply to “pretrial detainees”). Snyder’s charges in Winnebago County were dismissed, and he did not enter into a term of imprisonment in Illinois until April 14, 2000. Snyder was a pretrial detainee in December 1999, and the provisions of the IAD therefore did not apply to him when Fillmore County sent its hold request.
Snyder also contends that the IAD required the state to bring him to trial within 180 days after his January 2000 extradition waiver because the waiver was a “request for final disposition” under the IAD. This argument has two flaws: the IAD still did not apply and the waiver was not a request for final disposition. Because Snyder continued to be merely a pretrial detainee in January 2000, the IAD continued not to apply to him. Snyder asserts that because a request for a final disposition under the IAD is also a waiver of extradition, it must follow that a waiver of extradition is a request for a final disposition. This is not so. Under the IAD, when a prisoner makes a “request for a final disposition” of out-of-state charges for which a detainer has been lodged against him, he must be brought to trial on the out-of-state charges within 180 days after the written request is received by the prosecuting officer and the appropriate court, or the charges must be dismissed. Minn. Stat. § 629.294, Arts. III(a), V(c) (2004); State v. Wells, 638 N.W.2d 456, 460 (Minn. App. 2002), review denied (Minn. Mar. 19, 2002). The IAD provides only that “[a]ny request for final disposition made by a prisoner . . . shall also be deemed . . . a waiver of extradition.” Minn. Stat. § 629.294, Art. III(e) (2004). It does not state or imply the converse—that a waiver of extradition is also a request for final disposition. The district court did not err by denying Snyder’s motions to dismiss for violation of the speedy-trial provisions of the IAD. This leads us to his constitutional challenge.
Snyder next argues that the state violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial by failing to bring him to trial for nearly six years. The federal and Minnesota constitutions establish that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” U.S. Const. amend. VI; Minn. Const. art. I, § 6. Determining whether a defendant has been denied the constitutional right to a speedy trial is a question of law, which we review de novo. State v. Cham, 680 N.W.2d 121, 124 (Minn. App. 2004), review denied (Minn. July 20, 2004).
To determine whether a delay deprived the accused of the right to a speedy trial, Minnesota courts apply the Supreme Court’s four-factor balancing test announced in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S. Ct. 2182 (1972), in which the court weighs the pretrial conduct of both the state and the defendant. State v. Widell, 258 N.W.2d 795, 796 (Minn. 1977). The four factors are (1) the length of the delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3) whether the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial, and (4) whether the delay prejudiced the defendant. State v. Windish, 590 N.W.2d 311, 315 (Minn. 1999). No one factor is necessary or dispositive to finding that the defendant was denied the right to a speedy trial. Rather, they must be considered together in light of the relevant circumstances. Id. Our analysis of the Barker factors leads us to conclude that the state did not violate Snyder’s right to a speedy trial.
Length of Delay
The length-of-delay factor “is to some extent a triggering mechanism in that until some delay, which is presumptively prejudicial, is evident the other factors need not be considered.” State v. Jones, 392 N.W.2d 224, 235 (Minn. 1986). The filing of criminal charges against an accused activates the Sixth Amendment’s protection and marks the starting point for calculating the length of the delay. State v. Huddock, 408 N.W.2d 218, 220 (Minn. App. 1987). Fillmore County first filed the complaint against Snyder in November 1999, but it did not bring Snyder to trial until October 2005. The charges remained outstanding during this nearly six-year period. A delay of six years is clearly sufficient to warrant further analysis under the remaining three Barker factors. See Jones, 392 N.W.2d at 235 (finding delay of seven months in murder trial long enough to trigger consideration of other Barker factors).
Reason for the Delay
In assessing the next factor, reason for the delay, different reasons call for different weights. Cham, 680 N.W.2d at 125. The state’s deliberate attempt to delay the trial to hamper the defense would be weighted heavily against the state while negligent or administrative delays are given less weight. Barker, 407 U.S. at 531, 92 S. Ct. at 2192; Huddock, 408 N.W.2d at 220. By contrast, when a defendant’s actions are responsible for the overall delay, there is no violation of the right to a speedy trial. State v. Derossier, 695 N.W.2d 97, 109 (Minn. 2005). Because Snyder escaped police custody and fled Minnesota, the initial five-month delay from the filing of the complaint to the time of Snyder’s conviction in McLean County, Illinois, on unrelated charges in April 2000, is attributed to Snyder.
The record does not indicate why Fillmore County failed to lodge a detainer in Illinois and extradite Snyder to Minnesota after his conviction in April 2000 or at any time during his parole in 2003. The state chose not to respond to Snyder’s arguments even after this court granted its request for an extension of time to file a brief. We assume the reason is as suggested by Snyder, unopposed, which is negligence by the county attorney’s office. We find this 39-month portion of the delay to be wholly attributable to the state. See State v. Sistrunk, 429 N.W.2d 280, 282 (Minn. App. 1988) (finding state’s negligence in failing to inquire about defendant’s out-of-state whereabouts weighed heavily against state), review denied (Minn. Nov. 23, 1988). For the same reason, we attribute to the state the three-month delay while Snyder was free on parole until his arrest in Iowa in October 2003. The state finally lodged a detainer in January 2004, which Illinois acknowledged in February.
After his extradition in January 2005, Snyder filed a second motion to dismiss, a renewed motion to dismiss, and a motion for reconsideration, and he made various and conflicting requests concerning counsel. We therefore attribute to Snyder the majority of the remaining ten-month delay until his trial in October. In conclusion, we attribute most of the delay to the state’s neglect and determine that this factor weighs in favor of Snyder’s constitutional speedy-trial claim.
Assertion of Right to Speedy Trial
The force and frequency of a defendant’s demand for trial must be considered in weighing the third factor, the assertion of the right, and the strength of the demand will generally reflect the seriousness and extent of any resulting prejudice. State v. Friberg, 435 N.W.2d 509, 515 (Minn. 1989). As the Supreme Court summarizes it, “[t]he more serious the deprivation, the more likely a defendant is to complain.” Barker, 407 U.S. at 531, 92 S. Ct. at 2192.
Snyder acknowledges that he did not formally demand a speedy trial until August 31, 2005, seven months after his extradition. He contends that his January 2000 extradition waiver should be considered a speedy-trial demand. But we consider separately Snyder’s speedy-trial claims under the IAD and under the federal and state constitutions. See New York v. Hill, 528 U.S. 118, 117 n.2, 120 S. Ct. 659, 665 n.2 (2000) (noting that differences in time-limit triggers, among other things, make analogy between IAD and Speedy Trial Act provisions inapt). The state brought Snyder to trial within two months after his actual speedy-trial demand. And his speedy-trial demand “cannot be regarded as prompt or forceful, both of which are key to a court’s evaluation of a speedy trial claim.” State v. Johnson, 498 N.W.2d 10, 16 (Minn. 1993). Unlike the defendant in Sistrunk, whose failure to demand a speedy trial was not held against him because he was unaware of the indictment against him for 12 years, Snyder knew about the Minnesota charges in January 2000 but waited more than five years to request a speedy trial. This factor therefore weighs against Snyder’s speedy-trial claim.
Prejudice to the Defendant
The final factor of prejudice is measured in light of the interests that the speedy-trial right was designed to protect. Barker, 407 U.S. at 532, 92 S. Ct. at 2193. The Supreme Court has identified three interests in assessing prejudice: (1) preventing oppressive pretrial incarceration; (2) minimizing anxiety and concern of the accused; and (3) limiting the possibility that the defense will be impaired. Id. The third interest, possible impairment of the defense, is the most important of the three. Id.
Snyder argues in conclusory fashion that the state’s delay prejudiced his ability to prepare a defense. He asserts that the three years he spent confined in Illinois precluded him from being able to prepare a defense to the Minnesota charges. But Snyder’s Illinois incarceration stemmed from charges unrelated to Minnesota, and he incurred them during his flight from Minnesota. Winnebago County authorities held Snyder on Fillmore County’s hold request for slightly longer than one month, and McLean County authorities took custody of Snyder on other charges. Snyder’s incarceration in Illinois cannot constitute oppressive pretrial incarceration on the Minnesota charges. See Underdahl v. Carlson, 462 F.3d 796, 799 (8th Cir. 2006) (finding first prejudice criterion under Barker moot when defendant already incarcerated on other crimes).
With respect to the second prong, Snyder asserts that he suffered anxiety after being paroled in Illinois only to be held again on the Minnesota charges. But Snyder was arrested in Iowa on an apparent parole violation from his Illinois sentence, and the record suggests that he would have been taken into custody in Iowa and returned to Illinois regardless of the Minnesota charges. Snyder’s incarceration-related anxiety cannot be attributed to the outstanding Minnesota charges.
Concerning the most important interest, impairment of defense, Snyder asserts only that the six-year delay in bringing him to trial is presumptively prejudicial. But Snyder does not contend that the delay caused him to lose any evidence or witnesses. And he does not argue that the delay affected the strength of his defense to the charges arising out of his theft of, flight in, and destruction of the police car. Without argument or evidence to the contrary, we presume that the extraordinary episode is still clear in the officers’ minds and in any other key witness’s mind. See Jones, 392 N.W.2d at 235-36 (finding no prejudice when defendant failed to show that any witnesses were unable to recall essential facts or failed to testify). When a “delay in no way affect[s] the strength of defendant[’s] case, the final Barker factor does not favor defendant.” Friberg, 435 N.W.2d at 515. Our holding in Sistrunk does not suggest that we ought to find prejudice in this case. No prejudice is apparent on these facts and the other factors do not weigh strongly in Snyder’s favor. See Sistrunk, 429 N.W.2d at 283 (affirming the district court’s dismissal of 12-year-old murder indictment when defendant “has not made a strong showing of prejudice” because “two of the other factors weigh[ed] heavily against the state and support the trial court’s determination” of a speedy-trial violation). The prejudice factor weighs against Snyder’s claimed speedy-trial violation.
On balance, the four Barker factors do not weigh sufficiently in favor of Snyder to find a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The overall length of the delay is presumptively prejudicial, and the reason for the delay is mostly attributable to the state’s negligent inaction in seeking to extradite Snyder promptly. But his failure to assert the speedy-trial demand earlier disfavors Snyder, and the prejudice elements weigh against the claimed violation. The district court did not err by finding that the state did not violate Snyder’s right to a speedy trial.
Snyder last argues that the district court erred by refusing to appoint substitute or standby counsel based on its purported lack of authority to do so. Snyder asserts that exceptional circumstances required the district court to exercise its discretion and appoint substitute counsel on the day of trial. Snyder had no such constitutional right.
Although a defendant’s right to counsel “includes a fair opportunity to secure an attorney of choice, . . . an indigent defendant does not have the unbridled right to be represented by the attorney of his choice.” State v. Worthy, 583 N.W.2d 270, 278 (Minn. 1998). Rather, he must generally “accept the attorney appointed by the court.” State v. Gassler, 505 N.W.2d 62, 70 (Minn. 1993). And although a defendant may request the court to appoint different counsel, “his request will be granted only if exceptional circumstances exist and the demand is timely and reasonably made.” State v. Vance, 254 N.W.2d 353, 358 (Minn. 1977). The district court need not allow a defendant to “obtain a continuance by arbitrarily choosing to substitute counsel at the time of trial.” Id. Because Snyder had the benefit of competent legal representation for more than eight months and “took full advantage of that representation up until the morning of the scheduled trial date,” we find that his request for substitute counsel was not timely and reasonably made. Worthy, 583 N.W.2d at 276, 278-79. The district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Snyder’s request for appointment of substitute counsel.
Snyder’s related argument that the district court failed to properly exercise discretion by refusing to appoint standby counsel because it lacked authority is without merit. Neither the federal nor the Minnesota Constitution guarantees pro se defendants the right to appointment of advisory counsel. State v. Clark, 722 N.W.2d 460, 466 (Minn. 2006). Snyder also cannot show that the lack of advisory counsel prejudiced him because the district court, in its discretion, permitted Snyder to relinquish self-representation and reappointed his prior counsel. See id. at 469 (holding within district court’s discretion the decision to permit defendant to relinquish self-representation after waiving right to counsel). The district court did not violate Snyder’s rights or abuse its discretion by denying Snyder’s request for appointment of standby counsel.