United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE KAY
D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is a Motion to Dismiss Indictment [doc. 19] filed
by defendant Morgan Lyons. The government opposes the motion
and Lyons has filed a reply. For the reasons set forth below,
the motion will be denied.
was charged by indictment in this court on October 3, 2019,
with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and
marijuana, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and two
counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The indictment alleges
that the crimes occurred on or about May 5, 2016. Doc. 1.
Lyons states that he was arrested as a result of that
incident on December 6, 2016, and has been incarcerated since
that time. The lengthy delay between his arrest and the
filing of the federal charges prejudices him, he maintains,
because he was then awaiting trial on state charges relating
to the same incident and will not receive credit on any
federal sentence imposed for that pre-indictment time. Doc.
19. Accordingly, he seeks dismissal of the charges against
him based on unnecessary pre-indictment delay. Id.
does not dispute that his indictment was brought within the
appropriate limitations period. See 18 U.S.C. §
3282 (providing that a five-year general statute of
limitations applies non-capital federal crimes). The statute
of limitations serves as the primary safeguard against
“overly stale criminal charges, ” and there is no
constitutional requirement that charges be filed promptly.
United States v. Crouch, 84 F.3d 1497, 1507 (5th
Cir. 1996). However, the court may also dismiss an indictment
based on unnecessary delay by the government. Fed.R.Civ.P.
48(b). Here Lyons maintains that dismissal is warranted on
both due process grounds and under the court's inherent
power to dismiss a case for failure to prosecute.
Due process allegations
asserts that the preindictment delay in this matter amounts
to a violation of his right to due process. To show an
unconstitutional preindictment delay, a defendant must
establish two elements: (1) the government intentionally
delayed in order to obtain an advantage over the accused in
the contemplated prosecution or for some other bad faith
purpose, and (2) the improper delay caused actual,
substantial prejudice to his defense. Crouch, 84
F.3d at 1523; United States v. Jimenez, 256 F.3d
330, 345 (5th Cir. 2001). “Vague assertions of lost
witnesses, faded memories, or misplaced documents” are
insufficient to satisfy the second prong. United States
v. Beszborn, 21 F.3d 62, 67 (5th Cir. 1994). “The
defendant's burden of showing actual prejudice is
particularly high before trial, when almost any prejudice is
speculative.” United States v. Hudson, 2010 WL
5375347 (E.D. La. Dec. 17, 2010).
has not met either prong of the above test. He complains of
the harm he may suffer from uncredited time spent in state
custody and of the government's delay. Yet he does not
show that the government delayed indictment for any improper
purpose or that the delay has yet prejudiced his defense in
any actual, substantial manner. Accordingly, Lyons's due
process allegations do not support dismissal of the charges
Want of Prosecution
reply, Lyons notes that Rule 48(b) “is not confined to
constitutional violations” and also encompasses the
court's “inherent power to dismiss for want of
prosecution.” United States v. Acuna, 502
F.Supp.2d 521, 527 (W.D. Tex. 2007) (citing United States
v. Novelli, 544 F.2d 800, 803 (5th Cir. 1977)). The
court should only exercise this power upon a showing of
sufficient prejudice or improper prosecutorial motive.
Id. Lyons presents no evidence of purposeful delay
by the government and his complaint about uncredited time in
state custody does not justify dismissal of the charges.
Assuming that the time is not credited to a state sentence,
the Bureau of Prisons may apply it towards any eventual
federal sentence under 18 ...