Doggett v. United States - Oral Argument - October 09, 1991

Doggett v. United States

Media for Doggett v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 24, 1992 in Doggett v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 09, 1991 in Doggett v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument now in No. 90-857, Marc Gilbert Doggett v. United States.

Mr. Sheppard?

William J. Sheppard:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case involves the constitutional right to a speedy trial in a situation where the defendant, the petitioner herein, had absolutely no knowledge of the existence of an indictment for a period of 8-1/2 years prior to being arrested.

For the last 6 years of that 8-1/2 years, it was clear that Mr. Doggett was available to the push of a button, running a credit check, to determine his whereabouts.

Eight-and-a-half years after his indictment the United States Marshals Service, in conducting an operation entitled WANT II, which commenced on September 1 of 1988, pushed a button on a credit bureau computer in the Savannah office of the Marshal's Office and within 5 minutes found that Marc Doggett resided in Reston, Virginia, where he had been residing openly, freely, and above-board for the last 6 years.

The Government's efforts immediately after the indictment of Mr. Doggett demonstrates bad faith which constitutes prejudice.

Shortly after Mr. Doggett's indictment, two State officials, at the request of the Jacksonville, Florida, DEA, went to his parents' home in North Carolina.

Mr. Doggett's mother is a Colombian national who's been married to an American citizen for many years and has three children.

These two State officials, at the request of the Federal Government, dropped by her house one time in 8-1/2 years to determine where Mr. Doggett was.

Mrs. Doggett immediately notified these officers that he had left for Colombia, and indeed gave him the flight number of his airplane in Miami, Florida, and the fact that he was updating his passport on his way.

Antonin Scalia:

But never told him of their visit?

William J. Sheppard:

The record is absolutely clear, and both the magistrate, the district court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, found that Mr. Doggett had no knowledge of his indictment through his mother or anyone.

Indeed, the United States in the plea agreement entered into with Mr. Doggett stated that Mr. Doggett had no knowledge of the indictment and indeed the two co-defendants, who were apprehended and tried in 1980, had had no contact with Mr. Doggett.

So the record is without question that Mr. Doggett had absolutely no knowledge of this indictment.

Antonin Scalia:

Which you can say is as much his mother's fault as it was the Government's fault.

William J. Sheppard:

No.

I do not accept that.

The reason I do not accept that is that probably a year-and-a-half after Mr. Doggett was indicted he was arrested in the country of Panama and he was incarcerated there for 8 months.

During that 8-month period, the DEA knew that he was there.

The State Department visited Mr. Doggett on periodic basis during that 8-month period.

Unfortunately, the State Department and the DEA didn't communicate with each other, and no one, including the State Department officials that visited him on numerous occasions, gave him notice of the indictment.

Thereafter, he was released in 1982 and returned to this country after a couple of months visiting family in Colombia.

As long as 2 years... 32 months, 38 months, the DEA agent in Jacksonville, based on information that he had received in 1981, fabricated three DEA 6 reports stating that Marc Doggett was still incarcerated in the country of Panama.

These fabricated reports caused the United States to exert no further effort to obtain the apprehension of Mr. Doggett, to his detriment.

Mr. Doggett returned to the United States, using his own name, through JFK Airport in New York City and returned to North Carolina for a brief period of time living with a grandmother, and then became married, obtained an AA degree, has had numerous jobs, had many credit cards, bought two houses, paid United States income tax, and made no effort to conceal his identity, which is--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Sheppard, cases from this Court dealing with the speedy trial clause have identified two concerns that are behind the provisions of the clause.

One is the anxiety factor of someone who is aware of the indictment, and nothing has happened, and secondly the loss of liberty pending trial if someone's incarcerated.

Now, we don't have either of those things at play here.

William J. Sheppard:

--I would certainly concede that, Justice O'Connor, but I would also state that the same precedent from which those two concerns were articulated also communicated a third concern, and that is impairment of the defense of a person.