Barker v. Wingo 407 U.S. 514 (1972)

views updated

BARKER v. WINGO 407 U.S. 514 (1972)

The speedy trial right protects a defendant from undue delay between the time charges are filed and trial. When a defendant is deprived of that right, the only remedy is dismissal with prejudice of the charges pending against him. In Barker, the leading speedy trial decision, the Supreme Court discussed the criteria by which the speedy trial right is to be judged. The Court adopted a balancing test involving four factors to be weighed in each case where the issue arises. They are: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reasons for the delay; (3) the defendant's assertion of his right; and (4) prejudice to the defendant, such as pretrial incarceration and inability to prepare a defense. In reaching its decision the Court noted that the speedy trial right is unique inasmuch as it protects societal rights as well as those of the accused. In many instances, delayed trials benefit a defendant because witnesses disappear or memories fade. The balancing takes into consideration the varied interests protected by that right.

Wendy E. Levy