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Barker v. Wingo

    Brief Fact Summary. Petitioner brought this action to have his conviction overturned when, after sixteen (16) continuances, over a five year period, he was finally tried and convicted for murder.

    Issue. Whether a defendant must invoke the right to a speedy trial.

    Held. In its opinion, the Court used a four-factor balancing test to determine if the right to a speedy trial had been denied:
    The Length of the Delay: the court concedes that five years a great time for delay
    The governmental reasons for delay: to determine to delay in order to get a better witness against the defense is not a good reason; however, to do so because of witness availability is
    The defendant’s responsibility to assert his rights
    prejudice to the defendant
    In the case at hand, the court found that there had been little prejudice to the defendant, because he had failed to assert his right or object to the delays until they had already occurred. Also, the court felt that Barker was gambling on the outcome of Manning’s trial, which is why he waited for the delays. Thus, the court held that Barker was not prejudiced by the delay.

    Discussion. When a defendant wants to invoke the right to a speedy trial, he or she must actively do so.


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