When Luther Pritt was charged by a State Police officer he was taken from the TVRJ to Marlinton and put in a holding cell. Three times he was taken to Magistrate Wilfong's courtroom but nobody including the plaintiff showed up to accuse him of anything. His attorney, a public defender urged him to plead guilty to a lesser charge. He did despite the fact that no one showed up to accuse him and to be cross-examined by his attorney. The magistrate accepted his plea and ordered him to do Community Service for 6 months. He has been weed eating in Marlinton because he doesn't have a home. He has lost his home, his wife, his children, and is about to lose his driver's license because of unpaid fines.
He works 40 hours per week for the town with no pay and very little support. When the town heard about his situation they withdrew their job for him and he is being hauled to Durbin daily by the county to help clean up Durbin. He can't get a job because he works 40 hours per week. Even food is a problem for Luther. He has been sleeping on a park bench from time to time when he can't find a friend's couch to sleep on.
Luther Pritt spent 35 days in jail even though Magistrate Carrie Wilfong had ordered his release.
He pointed out to Officer Hummel that he was supposed to be released. When he got to jail, he told the custodians there. Nobody did a thing for 35 days.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Main article: Speedy Trial Clause
Criminal defendants have the right to a speedy trial. In Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), the Supreme Court laid down a four-part case-by-case balancing test for determining whether the defendant's speedy trial right has been violated. The four factors are:
- Length of delay. A delay of a year or more from the date on which the speedy trial right "attaches" (the date of arrest or indictment, whichever first occurs) was termed "presumptively prejudicial," but the Court has never explicitly ruled that any absolute time limit applies.
- Reason for the delay. The prosecution may not excessively delay the trial for its own advantage, but a trial may be delayed to secure the presence of an absent witness or other practical considerations (e.g., change of venue).
- Time and manner in which the defendant has asserted his right. If a defendant agrees to the delay when it works to his own benefit, he cannot later claim that he has been unduly delayed.
- Degree of prejudice to the defendant which the delay has caused.
In Strunk v. United States, 412 U.S. 434 (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that if the reviewing court finds that a defendant's right to a speedy trial was violated, then the indictment must be dismissed and/or the conviction overturned. The Court held that, since the delayed trial is the state action which violates the defendant's rights, no other remedy would be appropriate. Thus, a reversal or dismissal of a criminal case on speedy trial grounds means that no further prosecution for the alleged offense can take place.
Main article: Confrontation Clause
The Confrontation Clause relates to the common law rule preventing the admission of hearsay, that is to say, testimony by one witness as to the statements and observations of another person to prove that the statement or observation was accurate. The rationale was that the defendant had no opportunity to challenge the credibility of and cross-examine the person making the statements. Certain exceptions to the hearsay rule have been permitted; for instance, admissions by the defendant are admissible, as are dying declarations. Nevertheless, in California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149 (1970), the Supreme Court has held that the hearsay rule is not the same as the Confrontation Clause. Hearsay is admissible under certain circumstances. For example, in Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), the Supreme Court ruled that while a defendant's out of court statements were admissible in proving the defendant's guilt, they were inadmissible hearsay against another defendant. Hearsay may, in some circumstances, be admitted though it is not covered by one of the long-recognized exceptions. For example, prior testimony may sometimes be admitted if the witness is unavailable. However, in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), the Supreme Court increased the scope of the Confrontation Clause by ruling that "testimonial" out-of-court statements are inadmissible if the accused did not have the opportunity to cross-examine that accuser and that accuser is unavailable at trial. In Davis v. Washington 547 U.S. 813 (2006), the Court ruled that "testimonial" refers to any statement that an objectively reasonable person in the declarant's situation would believe likely to be used in court. In Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. ___ (2009), andBullcoming v. New Mexico, 564 U.S. ___ (2011), the Court ruled that admitting a lab chemist's analysis into evidence, without having him testify, violated the Confrontation Clause. In Michigan v. Bryant, 562 U.S. ___ (2011), the Court ruled that the "primary purpose" of a shooting victim's statement as to who shot him, and the police's reason for questioning him, each had to be objectively determined. If the "primary purpose" was for dealing with an "ongoing emergency", then any such statement was not testimonial and so the Confrontation Clause would not require the person making that statement to testify in order for that statement to be admitted into evidence.
The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses also applies to physical evidence; the prosecution must present physical evidence to the jury, providing the defense ample opportunity to cross-examine its validity and meaning. Prosecution generally may not refer to evidence without first presenting it.
As stated in Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977), the right to counsel “[means] at least that a person is entitled to the help of a lawyer at or after the time that judicial proceedings have been initiated against him, whether by formal charge, preliminary hearing, indictment, information, or arraignment.” Brewer goes on to conclude that once adversary proceeding have begun against a defendant, he has a right to legal representation when the government interrogates him and that when a defendant is arrested, “arraigned on [an arrest] warrant before a judge,” and “committed by the court to confinement,” “[t]here can be no doubt that judicial proceedings ha[ve] been initiated.”