A defendant's right to a speedy trial is ensured by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, as well as the Speedy Trial Act. The right was created to prevent oppressive pretrial incarceration, to minimize anxiety and concern of the accused, and to limit the possibility that the defense will be impaired. The Speedy Trial Act is to be interpreted in light of this purpose; however, the Seventh Circuit, along with the other circuits and the Supreme Court, has deviated from this principle.
The Seventh Circuit has applied the excludable days exception within the Speedy Trial Act so liberally as to encompass almost every delay by either party. This has resulted in lengthy delays and a disregard for the defendant's rights. The Seventh Circuit has occasionally considered dismissal as a sanction, but it is inadequate and rarely employed. The Speedy Trial Act provides for sanctions on attorneys; however, this provision is not invoked. The Seventh Circuit must restructure its approach and begin administering sanctions in order to promote the purpose of the Sixth Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act.
Meagan S. Winings,
What Does Speed Have to Do with It?: An Analysis of the Seventh Circuit's Application of the Speedy Trial Act,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol6/iss1/5