Betterman v. Montana

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: May 19, 2016
  • Case #: 14–1457
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a concurring opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial does not apply once a defendant has been found guilty at trial or pleaded guilty, including the time between conviction and sentencing, although other Due Process challenges may still be raised.

Petitioner pleaded guilty to bail jumping. Due to delays in the disposition of his presentence motions and the completion of the presentence report, Petitioner was imprisoned for fourteen months before receiving his sentence. On direct appeal to the Montana Supreme Court, Petitioner's sentence was upheld. Petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court, raising a Sixth Amendment violation of his right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court held that Sixth Amendment's Constitutional guarantee to a speedy trial attaches when the accused is arrested or indicted, and it ends upon conviction and does not extend through sentencing. The Court reasoned that historically the presumption of innocence of the accused was the cornerstone principle supporting the right to a speedy trial and that this justification is negated by a valid conviction. The Court further reasoned that there is no reference to the period after conviction in the text of the Speedy Trial Clause or the legislation giving it effect, the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, 18 U. S. C. §3161 et seq. The Court advised that Due Process, penal statutes, and rules of criminal procedure provide adequate channels of protection for defendants’ liberties between conviction and sentencing. Petitioner did not preserve any of these alternative challenges. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search