Bloate: Supreme Court Holds Time Granted to Criminal Defendants to Prepare Pretrial Motions is Not Automatically Excludable under Speedy Trial Act

This morning the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Bloate v. U.S. The Court resolved a circuit court split, holding that additional time granted to criminal defendants to prepare pretrial motions is not automatically excludable from the federal Speedy Trial Act’s 70-day limit under subsection (h)(1). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits here in Atlanta, previously held the opposite, so this decision marks a change in the law of this circuit. We explained the issues in this case and the Eleventh Circuit case in this post last year.

The government argued that defendants could “lay a trap” for judges by requesting time to prepare motions. The Court noted that a district court judge may still exclude such time from the Speedy Trial Act under subsection (h)(7) if it finds “that the ends of justice served by [a continuance for time to prepare pretrial motions] outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.” The judge need only place these reasons on the record.

The Speedy Trial Act is available here.
The Court’s opinion is available here. The majority was written by Justice Thomas. Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion and Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Breyer joined.