United States v. Rojas-Contreras - 474 U.S. 231 (1985)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Rojas-Contreras, 474 U.S. 231 (1985)
United States v. Rojas-Contreras
Argued October 9, 1985
Decided December 16, 1985
474 U.S. 231
Respondent was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 18, 1983, for felony illegal entry into the United States and reentry by a deported alien, he having been previously convicted for illegal entry "on or about December 17, 1981." Appearing through counsel on February 18, 1983, respondent was arraigned, and the trial was set for April 19, 1983. When it was noticed that the date of the previous conviction was actually December 7, 1981, the grand jury, on April 15, 1983, returned a superseding indictment identical to the original except that it corrected the date of the previous conviction. Respondent then moved for a 30-day continuance of the trial, contending that 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(2) -- which provides that a trial shall not commence less than 30 days "from the date on which the defendant first appears through counsel" -- required a new 30-day trial preparation period following the return of the superseding indictment. The District Court denied the motion, and respondent was convicted. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that respondent was entitled to the new 30-day trial preparation period.
Held: The Speedy Trial Act, of which § 3161(c)(2) is a part, does not require that the 30-day preparation period be restarted upon the filing of a superseding indictment. Pp. 474 U. S. 234-237.
(a) That this was Congress' intention is evident from the unambiguous language of § 3161(c)(2) that clearly fixes the beginning point for the trial preparation period as the first appearance through counsel, and does not refer to the date of the indictment, much less the date of any superseding indictment. This conclusion is further supported by the language of § 3161(c)(1), which establishes the outside time limit within which a trial must commence and explicitly refers to the date of indictment as one of the relevant dates for determining that time limit. Pp. 474 U. S. 234-235.
(b) The requirements of § 3161(c)(2) were met here, where the time between the date of respondent's first appearance through counsel and the date of the trial afforded a trial preparation period twice as long as the minimum required by § 3161(c)(2). P. 474 U. S. 236.
(c) Respondent was clearly not prejudiced by the return of the superseding indictment, which did nothing except correct the date of the previous conviction. Pp. 474 U. S. 236-237.
730 F.2d 771, reversed.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 474 U. S. 237.