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The U.S. Supreme Court on June 5 rendered the following decisions: The justices unanimously ruled that a defendant may not prospectively waive application of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, which requires a federal criminal trial to begin within 70 days of a defendant being charged or making an initial appearance. Zedner v. U.S., No. 05-5992. In April 1996, a New York federal grand jury indicted Jacob Zedner on seven counts of attempting to defraud a financial institution and one count of knowingly possessing counterfeit obligations of the United States. The district court granted two “ends-of-justice” continuances under Section 3161(h)(8) of the act, which permits a court to grant a continuance if it finds that the ends of justice served by the granting of the continuance outweigh the public’s and the defendant’s interests in a speedy trial. When Zedner sought a further adjournment to January 1997, the court suggested that he waive his rights under the act “for all time,” and produced a waiver form for him to sign. Zedner duly did so. The form said, “I . . . waive any and all rights to make a motion to dismiss the indictment . . . against me for failure of the Court to give me a speedy trial and that I waive all of such rights to a speedy trial and to make such a motion or motions for all time.” In March 2001, Zedner moved to dismiss the indictment for failure to comply with the act. His motion was denied on the ground that he had waived his rights under the Speedy Trial Act “for all time.” In a 2003 trial, Zedner was convicted and sentenced to 63 months of imprisonment. The 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. The justices reversed. Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that in deciding whether to grant an ends-of-justice continuance, a court must consider such issues as a defendant’s need for “reasonable time to obtain counsel,” and “effective preparation” of counsel. “If a defendant could simply waive the Act’s application in order to secure more time, no defendant would ever need to put such considerations before the court under the rubric of an ends-of-justice exclusion,” Alito said. The district court had reasoned that, under the act, “[f]ailure of the defendant to move for dismissal prior to trial or entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere shall constitute a waiver of the right to dismissal.” However, Alito said, there is no mention in the act of “prospective waivers, and there is no reason to think that Congress wanted to treat prospective and retrospective waivers similarly. Allowing prospective waivers would seriously undermine the Act because there are many cases . . . in which the prosecution, the defense, and the court would all be happy to opt out of the Act, to the detriment of the public interest.” A retrospective waiver poses no comparable danger because “the prosecution and the court cannot know until the trial actually starts or the guilty plea is actually entered whether the defendant will forgo moving to dismiss. As a consequence, the prosecution and the court retain a strong incentive to make sure that the trial begins on time.” Consequently, a defendant’s prospectively waiver “for all time” is ineffective. See Page 1 for a story about the justices’ 7-2 opinion that, to make a claim under Section 1962(c) of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a company must show that there is “some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct challenged.” Anza v. Ideal Steel Supply Corp., No. 04-433.

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