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Name: People v. Horning
Case #: S044677
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/16/2004

A letter to sent by a California detective to Arizona authorities who had the defendant in custody was insufficient to trigger federal speedy trial rights. The offense in this case occurred in September, 1990. Later that year, while the defendant was still at large, the district attorney filed a complaint charging him with murder. In March of the following year, the defendant was arrested in Arizona on other charges and was eventually convicted and sentenced to four consecutive life terms in that state. In November of 1991, a California detective informed the Arizona authorities of the pending charges, but noted that the district attorney had opted not to extradite defendant due to the life sentences. In May of 1992, the defendant escaped from custody in Arizona and committed additional crimes, for which he was arrested in July of 1992. At that time an amended complaint was filed against him in California, alleging special circumstances. In May of 1993, defendant moved to dismiss the California charges, alleging that the two-and-half-year delay had violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The California Supreme Court disagreed, noting that a federal speedy trial rights are not triggered until either a formal indictment or information is filed, or until actual restraints are imposed as a result of the charges. Furthermore, even if his constitutional rights had been implicated, some of the delay was excusable due to his escape and hiding.