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Supreme Court of the United States
October 9, 1991, Argued ; June 24, 1992, Decided
[*648] [***526] [**2689] JUSTICE SOUTER delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case we consider whether the delay of 8 1/2 years between petitioner's indictment and arrest violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. We hold that it did.
On February 22, 1980, petitioner Marc Doggett was indicted for conspiring with several others to import and distribute cocaine. See 84 Stat. 1265, 1291, as amended, 21 U. S. C. §§ 846, 963. Douglas Driver, the Drug Enforcement [****5] Administration's (DEA's) principal agent investigating the conspiracy, told the United States Marshal's Service that the DEA would oversee the apprehension of Doggett and his confederates. On March 18, 1980, two police officers set out [*649] under Driver's orders to arrest Doggett at his parents' house in Raleigh, North Carolina, only to find that he was not there. His mother told the officers that he had left for Colombia four days earlier.
To catch Doggett on his return to the United States, Driver sent word of his outstanding arrest warrant to all United States Customs stations and to a number of law enforcement organizations. He also placed Doggett's name in the Treasury Enforcement Communication System (TECS), a computer network that helps Customs agents screen people entering the country, and in the National Crime Information Center computer system, which serves similar ends. The TECS entry expired that September, however, and Doggett's name vanished from the system.
In September 1981, Driver found out that Doggett was under arrest on drug charges in Panama and, thinking that a formal extradition request would be futile, simply asked Panama to "expel" Doggett to the [****6] United States. Although the Panamanian authorities promised to comply when their own proceedings had run their course, they freed Doggett the following July and let him go to Colombia, where he stayed with an aunt for several months. On September 25, 1982, he passed unhindered through Customs in New York City [***527] and settled down in Virginia. Since his return to the United States, he has married, earned a college degree, found a steady job as a computer operations manager, lived openly under his own name, and stayed within the law.
Doggett's travels abroad had not wholly escaped the Government's notice, however. In 1982, the American Embassy in Panama told the State Department of his departure to Colombia, but that information, for whatever reason, eluded the DEA, and Agent Driver assumed for several years that his quarry was still serving time in a Panamanian prison. Driver never asked DEA officials in Panama to check into Doggett's status, and only after his own fortuitous assignment to that country in 1985 did he discover Doggett's departure [*650] for Colombia. Driver then simply assumed Doggett had settled there, and he made no effort to find out for sure or to [****7] track Doggett down, either abroad or in the United States. Thus Doggett remained lost to the American criminal justice system until September 1988, when the Marshal's Service ran a simple credit check on several thousand people subject to outstanding arrest warrants and, within minutes, found out where Doggett lived and worked. [**2690] On September 5, 1988, nearly 6 years after his return to the United States and 8 1/2 years after his indictment, Doggett was arrested.
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505 U.S. 647 *; 112 S. Ct. 2686 **; 120 L. Ed. 2d 520 ***; 1992 U.S. LEXIS 4362 ****; 60 U.S.L.W. 4741; 92 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5442; 92 Daily Journal DAR 8657; 6 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 604
MARC GILBERT DOGGETT, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES
Prior History: [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT.
Disposition: 906 F. 2d 573, reversed and remanded.
indictment, speedy trial, arrest, impairment, speedy trial right, speedy trial claim, prejudiced, pretrial, repose, weigh, accusation, charges, criminal prosecution, limitations, disruption, prosecute, enquiry, trigger, ability to defend, passage of time, incarceration, anxiety, courts, harms, speedy trial guarantee, protects, lengthy, delays, cases, evils
Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Speedy Trial, Criminal Law & Procedure, Preliminary Proceedings, Speedy Trial, General Overview