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20 Stan L. Rev. 476 (1967-1968)
The Right to a Speedy Trial

handle is hein.journals/stflr20 and id is 510 raw text is: NOTES
The Right to a Speedy Trial
Undue delay in the administration of criminal justice poses serious
threats to the freedom and well-being of the individual citizen.1 If crimi-
nal charges are long pending against an accused, he may suffer extreme
anxiety and harassment and may be forced to undergo lengthy imprison-
ment prior to trial.2 Delay can also impair the ability of an accused to refute
the charges brought against him-potential witnesses may no longer be
available, or the memories of available witnesses may be blurred by the
passage of time.3 As a safeguard against these abuses, the sixth amendment
to the Federal Constitution, now applicable to the states,' requires that
[i]n all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy
. . . trial ... . Similar guarantees of the right to a speedy trial can be
found in most state constitutions.6
Although the meaning of these guarantees might appear self-evident,
their simplicity and brevity of language have created interpretive problems
for the courts, and their application to specific cases has proven to be an
extremely difficult task. One of the major problems in this regard is that
of determining at what point in the criminal process the right to a speedy
trial attaches. Does the right attach only after an individual has been in-
dicted or otherwise formally charged with a crime? Or does the right
attach as soon as an individual has been arrested? Or does it perhaps attach
as soon as the alleged crime is committed? In addition to the problem of
defining the scope of application of the right to a speedy trial, courts have
x. Society has an interest in the orderly administration of criminal justice quite apart from its
humanitarian and pragmatic concern for the welfare of its citizens. A long delay may make it more
difficult for the government to prove its charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and it may lessen the de-
terrent value of a conviction. See Fuson v. Commonwealth, i99 Ky. 804, 807, 251 S.W. 995, 997
(1923); J. BEN'IAm, THE THEoRy ox' LEOIsLATr6N 326 (R. Hildreth transl. 1882).
2. See United States v. Burke, 224 F. Supp. 41, 47 (D.D.C. 1963); United States v. Provoo, 17
F.R.D. 183, X95 (D. Md.), af'd mem., 350 U.S. 857 (1955).
3. See United States v. Parrott, 248 F. Supp. 196, 203-05 (D.D.C. 1965); United States v. Chase,
135 F. Supp. 230, 232 (N.D. I1. i955).
4. See United States v. Ewell, 383 U.S. i16, i2o (x966).
5. See Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213 (1967).
6. See Note, The Right to a Speedy Criminal Trial, 57 CoLum. L. Rav. 846, 847 n.7 (1957). Be-
cause of Klopfer, future speedy-trial cases in state courts will be measured by federal standards. This,
however, does not mean that the state guarantees of a speedy trial are unimportant. These guarantees
will continue to have operative significance to the extent that they furnish greater protection than does
the federal guarantee and to the extent that the federal law of speedy trial is unclear. Cf. Note, Freedom
of Expression Under State Constitutions, 2o STN. L. Rav. 318 (1968).

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