MOORE v. ARIZONA
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA
Decided November 5, 1973
Where petitioner was tried for murder in Arizona almost three years after he was charged and 28 months after he first demanded that Arizona either extradite him from California, where he was serving a prison term, or drop a detainer against him, the Arizona Supreme Court, in affirming the denial of petitioner's pretrial habeas corpus application, erred in ruling that a showing of prejudice to the defense at trial was essential to establish a federal speedy trial claim. In addition to possible prejudice, a court must weigh the reasons for delay in bringing an incarcerated defendant to trial, and should also consider the possible impact pending charges might have on defendant's prospects for parole and meaningful rehabilitation. Smith v. Hooey, 393 U.S. 374 ; Dickey v. Florida, 398 U.S. 30 ; Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 .
Certiorari granted; 109 Ariz. 111, 506 P.2d 242, vacated and remanded.
Almost three years after he was charged and 28 months after he first demanded that Arizona either extradite him from California, where he was serving a prison term, or drop a detainer against him, petitioner was tried for murder in Arizona. Prior to trial, he filed a state habeas corpus application, alleging a deprivation of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to a speedy trial. In affirming the denial of the petition, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that under this Court's decisions in Dickey v. Florida, 398 U.S. 30 (1970), and Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), a showing of prejudice to the defense at trial was essential to establish a federal speedy trial claim. The state court found no such prejudice here because petitioner was afforded a [414 U.S. 25, 26] preliminary hearing and allowed to subpoena witnesses. 1 109 Ariz. 111, 506 P.2d 242 (1973).
The state court was in fundamental error in its reading of Barker v. Wingo and in the standard applied in judging petitioner's speedy trial claim. Barker v. Wingo expressly rejected the notion that an affirmative demonstration of prejudice was necessary to prove a denial of the constitutional right to a speedy trial:
The State of Arizona itself has conceded that this is a close case under Barker v. Wingo and that it is arguable whether the three-year delay was excusable. Because we agree and because "the right to a speedy trial is as [414 U.S. 25, 28] fundamental as any of the rights secured by the Sixth Amendment," Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213, 223 (1967), we grant the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition, vacate the judgment, and remand to the Arizona Supreme Court to reassess petitioner's case under the standards mandated by Smith, Barker, and Dickey.
[ Footnote 2 ] The examples of possible trial prejudice recited in Barker bear directly on this case: "If witnesses die or disappear during a delay, the prejudice is obvious. There is also prejudice if defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately events of the distant past. Loss of memory, however, is not always reflected in the record because what has been forgotten can rarely be shown." Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 532 (1972). [414 U.S. 25, 29]