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Name: Barsamyan v. Los Angeles County Superior Court
Case #: S148712
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/07/2008

A defendant’s consent to continuance of the trial to a date within the 10-day grace period specified in Penal Code section 1382, subdivision (a)(3)(B), restarts the 10-day period within which the case must be brought to trial. Penal Code section 1382, subdivision (a), requires dismissal of an action not brought to trial within a specified period following arraignment or plea, unless defendant enters a general time waiver or requests or consents to the setting of a trial date beyond the prescribed period. Whenever the date is set beyond the statutory period because of request or consent but without a general time waiver, the defendant must be brought to trial on the date set or within ten days thereafter and failure to do so entitles defendant to dismissal of the action. Here petitioner, who had been charged with a misdemeanor, was represented by the public defender’s office. The attorney had another case set for trial on the same date as petitioner’s. When the cases were called at the calendar hearing, counsel for petitioner indicated that she believed the other case would resolve and asked that both be sent out for trial, with petitioner’s case to trail the other case. The request was denied and a new trial date was set for petitioner’s case within ten days from the initial trial date. The Supreme Court noted that counsel has authority to waive the statutory speedy trial rights of her client if acting competently in the client’s interests when the sole reason is defense counsel’s obligation to another client, unless the client personally objected to a continuance. Counsel necessarily “consents” to postponement when she is not unconditionally ready for trial due to conflicting commitments to other clients. Interpreting the language of section 1382, along with the legislative history of the statute’s enactment, the Court determined that when counsel “consents” to the continuance in one case to accommodate another case, the ten-day grace period within which the case must be brought to trial starts anew, following the date to which the trial is continued, even if counsel objects to a continuance to a date beyond the original ten-day period. This interpretation enables courts to ensure the availability of judicial resources and, while maintaining a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, also protects the People by giving them ten days to prepare for trial, if necessary.