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06/30/66 Isaiah Hedgepeth, Jr., v. United States of America

June 30, 1966

ISAIAH HEDGEPETH, JR., APPELLANT

v.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE 1966.CDC.144 DATE DECIDED: JUNE 30, 1966



Wright, McGowan and Leventhal, Circuit Judges.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

APPELLATE PANEL:

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LEVENTHAL

Appellant was convicted on three counts of violations of the federal narcotics laws, 26 U.S.C. §§ 4704(a) and 4705(a), and 21 U.S.C. § 174. He received concurrent sentences of ten years on two of the counts, and five years on the third. His sole contention on appeal is that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Since the claim has prima facie merit, in view of the lapse of more than a year between appellant's arrest on May 7, 1964, and his trial on May 12, 1965, we undertake a review of the intervening events.

When appellant was arrested on May 7, 1964, he was charged, along with one William Green, Jr., with possession and sale of narcotics to a police officer on March 24, 1964. May 8, he was committed to D.C. Jail. May 21, a preliminary hearing was held and probable cause found. June 22, appellant and Green were indicted. June 26, he pleaded not guilty.

On July 21, 1964, appellant's first court-appointed counsel moved to be relieved from his assignment on the ground that appellant and he disagreed on the fundamental issue of guilt or innocence. The motion was granted and the case referred for appointment of new counsel. On August 6, appellant's trial was postponed until the week of September 28, 1964, to allow the newly-appointed counsel time to prepare. On August 19, 1964, the second counsel's appointment was vacated, and the court appointed a third counsel -- who promptly informed the court that he could not accept the appointment because he was now employed by the Government. On September 10, 1964, the court vacated the third appointment and appellant's fourth and final counsel was appointed to represent him in this case and in another narcotics prosecution involving appellant.

On September 17, 1964, the trial date was continued to the week of October 19, 1964, it being noted on the jacket that this was "at the request of defense counsel -- counsel just appointed, has other commitments on 9/28/64 and needs more time to prepare case for trial." Another continuance was sought, and granted on October 22 -- to the week of November 30, 1964 -- because of personal medical problems of appellant's counsel.

On November 27, 1964, another continuance was sought -- this time by counsel for co-defendant Green. Green had not been apprehended until November 6, and his counsel had just been appointed. The trial date was continued to the week of January 18, 1965. On January 14, 1965, appellant's counsel moved for another continuance, on the ground that he intended to call Green as a witness in his case, and that on January 8, 1965, Green had been committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital for a pre-trial mental examination. The following colloquy occurred:

THE COURT: Does he [appellant] agree with this arrangement?

DEFENSE COUNSEL: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: The case was continued from October 22 at your request, is that correct?

DEFENSE COUNSEL: That is correct.

THE COURT: Until the 18th of January?

DEFENSE COUNSEL: That is correct. I was ill, ...


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