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United States v. Finley

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 3, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
TARA FINLEY, Defendant.

ORDER

KIM R. GIBSON, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Tara Finley's motion to continue trial (ECF No. 89), wherein she seeks to reschedule her trial to the September 2014 trial term. The Court now considers the Defendant's motion, the Government's response in opposition, and the issues presented by counsel at a conference held on July 1, 2014.

I.

The trial court has discretion to grant or deny a trial continuance. See, e.g., United States v. McGavitt, 532 F.Appx. 295, 299 (3d Cir. 2013). Furthermore, "[a] trial court's decision to deny a continuance will only be reversed if an abuse of discretion is shown." Kikumura, 947 F.2d 72, 78 (3d Cir. 1991); see also 3A Charles A. Wright, Federal Practice and Procedure: Criminal 2d § 832 (1982) ("Occasionally an abuse of discretion will be found, but this is so rare that it is correct to say that the action of the trial court is ordinarily not reviewable.") (quoted with approval in Kikumura, 947 F.2d at 78).

In determining whether a continuance should be granted, the trial court should consider the following factors:

(1) the efficient administration of criminal justice;
(2) the accused's rights, including an adequate opportunity to prepare a defense; and
(3) the rights of other defendants awaiting trial who may be prejudiced by a continuance.

United States v. McGavitt, 532 F.Appx. 295, 299 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Kikumura, 947 F.2d at 78); see also Gov't of Virgin Islands v. Charleswell, 115 F.3d 171, 174 (3d Cir. 1997) ("[T]rial judges must balance the conflicting demands of court administration with the rights of the accused..."). The trial court may further consider the diligence of counsel in requesting the continuance. United States v. Cruz-Jiminez, 977 F.2d 95, 104 n.13 (3d Cir. 1992). The trial court's decision will ultimately depend on the circumstances in each case and will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is "so arbitrary as to violate [the accused's] due process [rights]." McGavitt, 532 F.Appx. at 299 (quoting Ungar v. Sarafite, 376 U.S. 575, 589 (1964)).

II.

With this discretionary standard in mind, the Court makes the following findings:

1. On May 15, 2012, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against the Defendant, charging her with conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and two counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 1341.
2. The indictment alleges that the Defendant conspired with another person to set fire to a furniture store. The indictment further alleges that the, Defendant submitted a fraudulent insurance claim through the United States mail.
3. Attorney Christopher Brown, an experienced federal defender, has represented the Defendant since September 18, ...

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