HENDERSON V. UNITED STATES, 476 U. S. 321 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Henderson v. United States, 476 U.S. 321 (1986)

Henderson v. United States

No. 84-1744

Argued April 1, 1986

Decided May 19, 1986

476 U.S. 321


The Speedy Trial Act (Act) commands that a defendant be tried within 70 days of the latest of either the filing of an indictment or information, or the first appearance before a judge or magistrate. However, a provision of the Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)(F) (hereafter subsection (F)), excludes from this time

"[a]ny period of delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the defendant, including . . . 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."

With regard to petitioners, who were ultimately convicted in Federal District Court of charges relating to the manufacture, possession, and distribution of controlled substances, the Act's 70-day period commenced on September 3, 1980, but the trial did not begin until November 1, 1982, because of various delays, including those resulting from overlapping filings by petitioners and the Government with respect to a motion to suppress certain evidence, a hearing and posthearing submissions by the parties on that motion, petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the court's denial of the motion to suppress, and petitioners' motion to dismiss the indictment because of violation of the Act. The Court of Appeals affirmed petitioners' convictions, rejecting their contention that, under subsection (F), only delays that were "reasonably necessary" could be excluded from the Act's 70-day period.


1. Congress intended subsection (F) to exclude from the Act's 70-day limitation all time between the filing of a pretrial motion and the conclusion of the hearing on that motion, whether or not a delay in holding that hearing is "reasonably necessary." The plain terms of the statute exclude all time between the filing of and the hearing on a motion, whether that hearing was prompt or not. Moreover, Congress' express use of the phrase "reasonable period of delay" in another provision of the statute indicates that the exclusion of the period defined in subsection (F) was intended to be automatic. The legislative history also supports this reading of subsection (F). Nor does the phrase "or other prompt disposition" in subsection (F) imply that only reasonably necessary delays may be excluded between the time of filing and the conclusion of

Page 476 U. S. 322

the hearing. That language was intended to apply to situations where motions are decided on the papers filed without a hearing. Pp. 476 U. S. 326-330.

2. Subsection (F) also excludes time after a hearing on a motion where the District Court awaits additional filings from the parties that are needed for proper disposition of the motion. Although the language of the statute is not clear on this point, its structure requires that such time be excluded. Pp. 476 U. S. 330-331.

3. Under the facts in this case, there were only 69 nonexcludable days of delay before petitioners' trial, and therefore the Act was not violated. Pp. 476 U. S. 331-333.

746 F.2d 619, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 476 U. S. 333.

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