Sixth Amendment - The Right to a Speedy Trial. No longer Valid?

Two important trials are finally starting. Chandra Levy disappeared in May, 2001. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her home June 5, 2002.

The sixth Amendment states…

Waiting eight or nine years to try a case is pretty pathetic. Is our Criminal Justice system this badly broke and incompetent? What in the heck have these people been doing?

The Elizabeth Smart case is very simple. She was found with the people that kidnapped her. What’s so blasted hard about prosecuting that case?

The Chandra Levy case is more difficult because of forensics and a lack of witnesses. But to screw around for nine years? :dubious:

The sixth Amendment protects the accused and the victims family. To drag all this pain and misery up after eight or nine years is horrifying for the families. The parents and Elizabeth have to testify. How much has eight years clouded Elizabeths memories? She’s had years of therapy and finally adjusted to normal life. Now she has to relive the nightmare?

Something has to be done to fix this. It’s totally unacceptable that a guy caught with the girl he kidnapps and rapes sits on his ass for eight years. A first year prosecutor straight out of law school should be able to nail this guy.

What needs to be done to fix this crap. Do we need to set a time limit for trials? To put it bluntly, get off your ass and do your damn job or else?

Would a hard and fast time limit force the system to do better?

Before outrage, you should check to see what’s causing the delay and what the actual time-frames are.

You mention, for example, the date of Levy’s disappearance. That date is wholly irrelevant: When was the *arrest *actually made?

Also, what’s causing the delay? For example, discovery isn’t just a one-time meeting to exchange documents. Scheduling interviews and depositions isn’t necessarily straightfoward, especially with a hostile (i.e., unfriendly) subject–both sides can run into these problems. Along the way there are numerous procedural issues that must be dealt with before other items can move forward. It’s in everyone’s interest to not arbitrarily cap the time limit for those.

Not disagreeing with you, but the spirit of the Amendment is to keep the state from locking you up for an indeterminate amount of time. There are, IIRC, some bright-line rules in place to safeguard that, but overall the interests of justice for both sides outweigh strict time limits.

Well remember the “rights” in the US Constitution are not absolute. Many times the defendant will waive their right to a speedy trail because it’s not in their interest to go ahead.

A lot of people don’t realize, if you have a public defender, you won’t get much help. In Illnois about 90% of all defendants reprensented by public defenders don’t even SEE their lawyer till the day of their trial.

It’s all done through letters, representatives, phone calls and other third party means.

In the OP example the 6th Amendment says: “he accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial”

The accused was given a psychological evalutation and was found not mentally competent. Long story short, it was found that if the defendents took meds they would become competent, (according to the letter of the law not of a psychiatrist - remember the legal defintion of competency is different).

So in the Smart case it was a huge deal as the Utah legislature passed a bill saying people could be forced to take drugs that would restore their mental health if it served the public interest to do so.

OK I over-simplified but that’s the gist of it. See Wikipedia for details

So the speedy trial was for the benefit of the accused and they accused was fighting it

Maybe, but it only gives* rights* to the accused. And the accused can waive those rights. There are sometimes laws passed to protect victims, but they’re not constitutional rights.

I understand their are many, many obstacles to prosecuting someone. They held a grand jury in the Levy case. Elizabeth Smart 's rapist and kidnapper has cleverly used the mental health laws. He’s been through quite a few psychiatric evaluations.

Still, it seems like they could adjudicate these cases within 4 years. Certainly no more than 5 years seems reasonable.

Somehow there’s a hollow victory in sending a guy to prison 9 years after he grabs a child from her bed, rapes her that night, and then drags her around the country as a vagrant for several months. I’ve read that the rapes continued nearly every night she was in captivity.

Too bad this isn’t true.

Gladius Iustitiae citus et acutus est
The sword of justice is swift and sharp.

From the Sword of Justice

Justice shouldn’t be about victory.

Full stop.

No denying that there are touchy-feely aspects, but a society that frames its judicial system in terms of victory for the victims is not–cannot–be a just society.

By the way, I haven’t looked up details of the case. An inescapable (heh) premise of your OP is that the defendants are out and about in society. If they’ve been in custody all this time, the OP doesn’t just fall apart; it disintegrates.

Cursory check:
On the defendant in the Chandra Levy case:

](Killing of Chandra Levy - Wikipedia)

Elizabeth Smart:

](Kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart - Wikipedia)

They’re both in custody during trial. What’s the question again?

IIRC the guy accused in the Levy case was already in prison on another crime. The guy in the Elizabeth Smart case I’m pretty sure is in a Psych Ward.

Victory may be too strong a word. But, the shattered families of the victim deserve some form of justice.

The people are being held, but the families are in limbo. They don’t know how this will turn out. Maybe some technicality will get the guys off. The families can’t breath a sigh of relief until a conviction.

Rushing forward without building a strong case, or violating laws in the process, will forever dash any hope of any conviction or justice.

What’s that got to do with your OP? An arrest warrant for Gandique was not issued until spring of 2009. A year and a half is a bit of a wait for trial to begin, but not totally unreasonable.

The bulk of the nine years was spent in identifying a suspect. Condit was the original suspect, as I’m sure you recall.

Speaking of original suspects, Richard Ricci was hounded to death. I’m sure that gave Elizabeth Smart’s parents a sense of closure, at least up until she was found with the real kidnappers.

Let’s do things right, if you don’t mind.

The Sixth Amendment says that the accused has a right to a speedy trial. If the defendant doesn’t want a speedy trial, he doesn’t have to have one. It has nothing to do with the rights of the victim. Not that victims don’t have rights, that’s just not what the Sixth Amendment is about.

Chandra Levy was murdered in 2001, but they didn’t arrest the suspect until 2009.

Elizabeth Smart’s alleged (and almost certainly guilty) kidnapper was not captured until a year after her disappearance. She was kidnapped in 2002 and the arrest was mad in 2003. The suspect was declared mentally incompetent until quite recently.

So to answer your question, you still have a right to a speedy trial. But this is a right for the defendant, not the government or the victim’s family.