United States v. Tinklenberg - Oral Argument - February 22, 2011

United States v. Tinklenberg

Media for United States v. Tinklenberg

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 26, 2011 in United States v. Tinklenberg

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 2011 in United States v. Tinklenberg

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument next in Case 09-1498, United States v. Tinklenberg.

Mr. Roberts.

Matthew D. Roberts:

Thank you.

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

To accommodate important pretrial proceedings, the Speedy Trial Act contains several automatic exclusions from its deadline for commencing trial.

This case concerns the exclusion for pretrial motions, which excludes the period of delay resulting from any pretrial motion from the filing of the motion through the conclusion of the hearing on or other prompt disposition of such motion.

For more than 30 years, the courts of appeals had uniformly held that the exclusion applies automatically upon the filing of any motion, regardless of its effect on the trial schedule.

The court below correctly rejected that established rule, which accords with this Court's decisions, is clear and easy to administer, and has worked well for over 3 decades.

The Court's cases construing the exclusion, Henderson and Bloate, support the established rule.

They make clear that the exclusion applies automatically once a motion is filed without any need for district court findings.

Henderson and Bloate cannot be squared with the approach of Respondent and the court below.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Well, all that might be true.

On the other hand, the statute does say "delay resulting".

And under your approach, the time would be excluded even if delay does not result.

Matthew D. Roberts:

No, Your Honor.

Delay refers to the interval of time from the filing of the motion through its disposition, during which the Speedy Trial Act's deadline is tolled.

We know that delay has the meaning -- delay can often have the meaning of the interval of time between two events.

And we know it has that meaning in the statute here because subsection (D) tells us so.

It defines the period of excludable delay resulting from the motion as the time from the filing through the disposition of the motion.

Respondent's definition--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

But the Chief Justice says only if it -- it's really a circular argument -- only if it results in a delay.

Well, suppose it doesn't result in a delay?

Matthew D. Roberts:

--That's assuming that delay is referring to delay of the trial, to a postponement in the trial.

But delay can't have that meaning because if it has that -- if that meaning is inconsistent with subsection (D) of the statute's exclusion of the time, of saying that delay is the time from the filing of the motion through the disposition of the motion, because the statute excludes periods of delay.

And if delay meant postponement of the trial, then the excluded period would be the time during which trial is postponed, but that period is often significantly shorter or longer than the time from the filing of the motion to the disposition.

And in Henderson and Bloate--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

But that doesn't -- that prove the point that I think is the concern of the Chief Justice's question, that in some cases the delay -- there's a delay that results and in other cases there isn't.

Matthew D. Roberts:

--But, Your Honor, the statute excludes the period of delay, and then it says the period of delay is the time from the filing through the disposition.

If delay -- if delay means postponement of the trial, then all that's excluded by the statute in the first part is the -- is the time during which trial is postponed, but that doesn't match up with subsection (D) because that period is not necessarily the period from the filing through the disposition.

If I could give you an example.