Barker v. Wingo

407 U.S. 514 (1972)


An elderly couple was beaten to death by intruders wielding an iron tire tool. Manning and Barker (D) were arrested shortly thereafter. The grand jury indicted them on September 15. Counsel was appointed on September 17, and D's trial was set for October 21. The Commonwealth had a stronger case against Manning, and it believed that D could not be convicted unless Manning testified against him. Manning was naturally unwilling to incriminate himself. On October 23, the day Manning was brought to trial, the Commonwealth sought and obtained the first of what was to be a series of 16 continuances of D's trial. D made no objection. Convicting Manning was akin to running a marathon. After a sixth trial, in December 1962, he was convicted. D's initial trial was to take place in the September term of 1958. D was eventually released by posting a $5,000 bond. D remained free in the community until his trial. D made no objection, through his counsel, to the first 11 continuances. When on February 12, 1962, the Commonwealth moved for the twelfth time to continue the case until the following term, D's counsel filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. It was denied. The Commonwealth was granted further continuances in June 1962 and September 1962, to which D did not object. In February 1963, the first term of court following Manning's final conviction, the Commonwealth moved to set D's trial for March 19. On the day scheduled for trial, it again moved for a continuance until the June term. It gave as its reason the illness of the ex-sheriff who was the chief investigating officer in the case. D objected unsuccessfully. It was continued again until the September term over D's objection. This time the court announced that the case would be dismissed for lack of prosecution if it were not tried during the next term. The final trial date was set for October 9, 1963. D again moved to dismiss the indictment, and this time specified that his right to a speedy trial had been violated. The motion was denied; the trial commenced with Manning as the chief prosecution witness; D was convicted and given a life sentence. D appealed, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. D petitioned for habeas corpus. Although the District Court rejected the petition without holding a hearing, the court granted petitioner leave to appeal in forma pauperis and a certificate of probable cause to appeal. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. It ruled that D had waived his speedy trial claim. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.