Appeal from the District Court, Fourth Judicial District, Bethel, Nathaniel Peters, Judge. Trial Court No. 4BE-14-20 CR
Daniel Doty, Assistant District Attorney, Bethel, and Michael C. Geraghty and Craig Richards, Attorneys General, Juneau, for the Appellant.
Lindsay Van Gorkom, Assistant Public Defender and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellee.
Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge.[*]
In this appeal we are asked to decide how a defendant's speedy trial rights under Alaska Criminal Rule 45 should be calculated in cases where a trial court has dismissed criminal charges on its own motion and the State later refiles those same charges.
Alaska Criminal Rule 45 governs a criminal defendant's statutory speedy trial rights under Alaska law. Under Rule 45, a defendant "shall be tried within 120 days ... from the date the charging document is served upon the defendant." In cases where criminal charges are dismissed by the prosecution and later refiled by the prosecution, Rule 45(c)(2) provides that the time for trial continues to run from the date of service of the original charges. The same provision also provides that if the charges are dismissed by the court upon motion of the defendant, the time for trial begins running anew on the date the refiled charges are served on the defendant.
The rule is silent, however, regarding what should occur when the dismissal is instigated neither by the prosecutor nor by the defense, but instead by the court on its own motion. That is what occurred here.
In this case, Sammy Andreanoff was arrested and charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and driving with a suspended licensefollowing a traffic stop for reckless driving and a breath test that revealed a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
At Andreanoff's arraignment, however, these charges were dismissed for lack of probable cause by the court on its own motion because the prosecutor failed to provide sworn testimony or an affidavit from the arresting officer. Andreanoff was therefore discharged from custody although the court explained to him that the dismissal was without prejudice and the State would likely refile the charges with the proper evidentiary support.
A week later, the State refiled the charges, this time accompanied by an affidavit by the arresting officer. But it was more than two months before the State was able to successfully serve Andreanoff with the refiled charges. At Andreanoff's second arraignment, the district court found probable cause and appointed counsel for Andreanoff. The court also set the case for the next trial calendar.
Shortly before Andreanoff's trial was scheduled to begin, Andreanoff's attorney asserted that the speedy trial time under Rule 45 had expired (or was close to expiring). The attorney argued that the court's sua sponte dismissal of the charges at his initial arraignment should be treated like a dismissal by the prosecution for purposes of Rule 45 because the prosecutor was aware that the charging document was deficient and yet failed to timely correct those deficiencies. The defense attorney also argued that the State had not been diligent in serving Andreanoff with the refiled charges and therefore none of the intervening time should toll under Rule 45.
The prosecutor argued that the court's dismissal should be treated like a dismissal upon motion of the defendant because Andreanoff benefited from the dismissal and because, had Andreanoff been represented by counsel at arraignment, his lawyer would undoubtedly have moved to dismiss on the same ground.
The district court ultimately found the defense attorney's argument more persuasive, ruling that the 120 days ran from the date of the original charges and the State's failure to timely serve Andreanoff with the refiled charges meant that none of this time was tolled. The court then dismissed the charges with prejudice, finding that the ...