Whether a state’s failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years, particularly where failure was the direct result of the prosecution’s choice to seek the death penalty, should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes?
Lower court opinion (State v. Boyer, 56 So.3d 1119 (La. App. 2011)
The issue appears to be whether inability to assign counsel is a “systemic breakdown” that counts against the state under the Barker v. Wingo speedy trial test. That said, the lower court did find the lengthy delay presumptively prejudicial, but insufficiently so to justify dismissal (“While most certainly the more than seven years from date of arrest to trial was presumptively prejudicial, the remaining Barker factors were not present such as to support the quashing of the indictment …”). It’s not clear, then, how pristine the issue will turn out.