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Name: People v. Engram
Case #: S176983
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 10/25/2010

A dismissal pursuant to Penal Code section 1382 is appropriate when there are no courtrooms available at the end of the speedy trial deadline. The Superior Court of Riverside County has been overburdened with a backlog of criminal cases awaiting trial. Despite a task force and the special assignment of additional judges, there were many limited time waivers and continuances of Engram’s scheduled trial for attempted murder. When trial was scheduled for the last day, the supervising district attorney appeared and made a record that Engram’s trial was one of 18 “last day” cases where the defense answered ready for trial and objected to any further delay. The prosecution argued that the court accommodate the cases in the juvenile, probate or family law departments. The case was put over to the following day for a defense motion to dismiss the case pursuant to section 1382. The prosecution repeated the objection and argued it was error for the court to fail to find good cause to continue the trial. The People appealed and the dismissal was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Penal Code section 1050’s precedence of criminal trials over civil proceedings was not violated and the statute does not usurp the court’s responsibility for the fair administration of justice in all cases, particularly in the circumstances when the court had made so many efforts to fulfill its constitutional function. There was further no abuse of discretion when the court dismissed Engram’s case under section 1382, even though the prosecution indicated they would not be able to refile.