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‘Speed’ Not Only Factor For Fair Proceeding


In United States v. Ewell, the U.S. Supreme Court again says that “speedy” is a relative term. In Ewell, the defendants had been indicted on certain drug charges, then convicted and sentenced. When the defendants appealed, the original indictments were thrown out because they were not prepared correctly. Nineteen months after the original indictments, the government brought new, corrected indictments on the same charges. The Court finds that this 19-month delay is not a violation of the Sixth Amendment’s speedy trial right because the defendants were not just sitting in prison; they were using the court system to be heard. The Court rules that rushing that process would be just as damaging as intentionally delaying it.