Covid-19’s Impact On Speedy Trial Criminal Proceedings

Covid-19’s Impact On Speedy Trial Criminal Proceedings

Portait of Gabriella Bovo

Gabriella Bovo

On August 26, 2021, the First District Court of Appeal held in favor of the State of Florida (the “Appellant”), and reversed and remanded the trial court’s order granting Brandy Lee Johnson’s (the “Appellee”) Motion for Discharge based on the Appellant’s failure to file an information within 174 days from her arrest. In Florida, under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191(a), “all defendants are entitled to be brought to trial within 175 days of arrest without demanding the right to a speedy trial if the crime charged is a felony.” Wallace v. State, 189 So. 3d 1022 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016). The Appellant argued that under the Florida Supreme Court’s Administrative Order, all speedy trial time periods were tolled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and any delay was permissible. The Appellee argued that the Administrative Order only applied to in-person proceedings regarding speedy trials but not for the time of an investigation or filing an information.

Under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, a defendant is guaranteed the right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury. A ‘speedy trial’ allows a defendant to be tried for alleged crimes within a reasonable time after being arrested. Even though most states have laws set in place that set forth the time in which a trial must take place after charges have been filed, the issue as to whether a trial is in fact ‘speedy’ comes down to the circumstances of the case itself and the reasons underlying any delay. In the most extreme situations, courts usually rule that the delay was unreasonable and prejudicial to the defendant, thus resulting in a dismissal of the case.

During the pendency of the subject appeal, this Court decided on another case that would directly impact the Court’s decision. In Smith v. State, the Court held that the Florida Supreme Court’s Administrative Order suspended all time periods regarding the speedy trial procedure, including the time for the State to file or amend an information. 310 So. 3d 1101 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020). This Court relied on their decision in Smith v. State to rule in the instant matter, deciding that the case would be reversed and remanded.

However, due to the difficult times that the entire world has had to endure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, administrative orders, like the ones discussed here, help prevent any such extreme situations from developing. Therefore, the First District Court of Appeal has clarified the Administrative Order, allowing for litigants to properly adapt to these unprecedented times.

The Technical Amendments To The Florida Appellate Rules Of Procedure Look Like They Are Here To Stay

The Technical Amendments To The Florida Appellate Rules Of Procedure Look Like They Are Here To Stay

Portrait of Ashley Exposito

Ashley Exposito

The December 2020 amendments to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure look like they are here to stay. Since the advent of the coronavirus, Florida rules and procedures have evolved to accommodate the new virtual world that many attorneys have found themselves immersed in even today. The Florida Supreme Court has implemented these new technical requirements in pursuit of mitigating technical issues so often run into by both lawyers and judges navigating the online field. The Florida Supreme Court’s addition of Rule 9.045 sets forth requirements involving the drafting of electronic appellate documents, including font size, style, and word limit. In addition, Rules 9.100 (1) and 9.210 (a)(1)-(3) were removed as they no longer served a purpose under the recently added Rule 9.045. The new rule has the legal world saying farewell to the beloved Times New Roman and hello to Bookman Old Style or Arial. The Florida Supreme Court’s reasoning behind these font requirements stemmed from some crafty practitioners using different fonts to work around the page limit requirements under the appellate rules. These two fonts were also implemented to make electronic filed briefs more reader friendly. Due to the increased size of these two fonts, the Florida Supreme Court has also gone from using a page limit requirement to a word limit requirement to keep in line with the former rules for computer-generated briefs. Though these may seem like small changes, the Florida Supreme Court continues to show its efforts to evolve with the continuously changing online landscape and the virtual world that is likely here to stay.

Meet our 2021-2022 Executive Board

Meet our 2021-2022 Executive Board

President: Aimee Garces

Executive Vice President: Glenn Garcia

Vice President of Internal Affairs: Claudia Gurdian

Vice President of Financial Affairs: Marian Quintero

Vice Presidents of Membership: Jennifer Blanco & Massiel Andino

Vice President of Alumni Affairs: Danay Hernandez