JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case requires us to consider the bounds of a district court's discretion to choose between dismissal with and without
On July 25, 1984, respondent Larry Lee Taylor was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of 400 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute. His trial was scheduled to commence in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle on November 19, 1984, the day prior to the expiration of the 70-day period within which the Act requires the Government to bring an indicted individual to trial. See 18 U. S. C. § 3161(c)(1).
Upon his return to Seattle, respondent moved to dismiss all charges against him, alleging that the Speedy Trial Act had been violated. The District Court rejected the Government's argument that because respondent had failed to appear for trial, the 70-day speedy trial clock began anew when respondent was arrested on February 5, 1985. After considering the time between respondent's nonappearance on November 19, 1984, and the issuance of the superseding indictment on April 24, 1985,
The District Court found that, although respondent was charged with serious offenses, there was "no excuse for the government's lackadaisical behavior in this case." Id., at 30a. The court observed that some of the Government's explanations for the various nonexcludable delays were inconsistent; that the Marshals Service failed to produce respondent expeditiously when requested to do so by a San Mateo County judge; and that even after the state charges were dropped, respondent was not immediately brought before a federal magistrate on the fugitive warrant. The District Court also noted that after an order issued to bring respondent back to Seattle for trial, the Government responded, but without "dispatch," accommodating the Marshals Service's interest in moving several prisoners at once instead of moving respondent within the time period provided for by the Act. It said:
The court dismissed the original counts with prejudice to reprosecution.
A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. 821 F.2d 1377 (1987). The full panel agreed with the District Court's holding that respondent's failure to appear for trial on November 19, 1984, should not restart the speedy trial clock, and confirmed the District Court's calculation of 15 nonexcludable days between respondent's flight and the issuance of the superseding indictment. Id., at 1383-1385.
Applying an abuse-of-discretion standard, the Court of Appeals reviewed the District Court's discussion of its decision to dismiss the drug charges with prejudice. Characterizing the lower court's purpose as sending "a strong message to the government" that the Act must be "observed," even with respect to recaptured fugitives, the majority concluded: "Under the peculiar circumstances of this case, we see no need to disturb that ruling on appeal. The district court acted within the bounds of its discretion." Id., at 1386.
The third judge concurred with the finding of a Speedy Trial Act violation, but concluded that the District Court abused its discretion in barring reprosecution. After reviewing the chronology and disputing whether, as a factual matter, the Government had failed to act reasonably, he felt that "none of the delay shown in this case — although admittedly
On the Government's petition, which suggested that further guidance was needed with respect to the application of the Speedy Trial Act's remedy provision, § 3162, we granted certiorari. 484 U.S. 1025 (1988).
Neither party has asked this Court to review the lower courts' decision that a violation of the Act actually occurred.
As is plain from this language, courts are not free simply to exercise their equitable powers in fashioning an appropriate remedy, but, in order to proceed under the Act, must consider at least the three specified factors. Because Congress employed somewhat broad and open-ended language, we turn briefly to the legislative history of the Act for some additional indication of how the contemplated choice of remedy should be made.
There apparently were those in Congress who thought courts should consider prejudice to the defendant before barring reprosecution. See 120 Cong. Rec. 41778 (1974) (remarks of Rep. Dennis); id., at 41795 (remarks of Rep. Conyers). After suggesting that he might offer an amendment to add that factor to the statute's list of considerations for the court, Representative Dennis agreed to establish through "legislative history" the relevance of prejudice to the defendant. Ibid. Representative Cohen, the author of the compromise amendment, agreed that prejudice to the defendant was relevant, id., at 41794-41795, but opposed adding that factor to § 3162(a)(2) for fear that district courts would treat a lack of prejudice to a defendant as dispositive:
Representative Cohen's amendment was thereafter adopted without further modification. Although the discussion in the House is inconclusive as to the weight to be given to the presence or absence of prejudice to the defendant, there is little doubt that Congress intended this factor to be relevant for a district court's consideration. See, e. g., United States v. Kramer, 827 F.2d 1174, 1178 (CA8 1987); United States v. Caparella, 716 F.2d 976, 980 (CA2 1983); United States v. Bittle, 226 U. S. App. D. C. 49, 56, 699 F.2d 1201, 1208 (1983).
The legislative history also confirms that, consistent with the language of the statute, Congress did not intend any particular type of dismissal to serve as the presumptive remedy for a Speedy Trial Act violation. Prior to the passage of the Act, the dismissal sanction generated substantial controversy in Congress, with proponents of uniformly barring reprosecution arguing that without such a remedy the Act would lack any real force, and opponents expressing fear that criminals would unjustly escape prosecution. See generally A. Partridge, Legislative History of Title I of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, pp. 31-33 (Federal Judicial Center 1980); United States v. Caparella, 716 F. 2d, at 978-979 (reviewing legislative history). Eventually, in order to obtain passage of the Act, a compromise was reached that incorporated, through amendments on the floor of the House of Representatives, the language that eventually became § 3162(a)(2).
Consistent with the prevailing view, the Court of Appeals stated that it would review the dismissal with prejudice under an abuse-of-discretion standard. 821 F. 2d, at 1385. See, e. g., United States v. Kramer, 827 F. 2d, at 1179 (reversing dismissal with prejudice as abuse of discretion); United States v. Russo, 741 F. 2d, at 1267-1268 (reversing dismissal without prejudice as abuse of discretion); United States v. Caparella, 716 F. 2d, at 980-981 (same); United States v. Salgado-Hernandez, 790 F. 2d, at 1267 (upholding dismissal without prejudice as within District Court's discretion). The court did not, however, articulate what that standard required.
Whether discretion has been abused depends, of course, on the bounds of that discretion and the principles that guide its exercise. Had Congress merely committed the choice of remedy to the discretion of district courts, without specifying factors to be considered, a district court would be expected to consider "all relevant public and private interest factors," and to balance those factors reasonably. Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 257 (1981). Appellate review of that determination necessarily would be limited, with the absence of legislatively identified standards or priorities.
In the Speedy Trial Act, however, Congress specifically and clearly instructed that courts "shall consider, among others, each of the following factors," § 3162(a)(2) (emphasis added), and thereby put in place meaningful standards to guide appellate review. Although the role of an appellate court is not to substitute its judgment for that of the trial court, review must serve to ensure that the purposes of the Act and the legislative compromise it reflects are given effect. Where, as here, Congress has declared that a decision will be governed by consideration of particular factors, a district court must carefully consider those factors as applied to the particular case and, whatever its decision, clearly articulate their effect in order to permit meaningful appellate review.
Factual findings of a district court are, of course, entitled to substantial deference and will be reversed only for clear error. Anderson v. Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564 (1985). A judgment that must be arrived at by considering and applying statutory criteria, however, constitutes the application of law to fact and requires the reviewing court to undertake more substantive scrutiny to ensure that the judgment is supported in terms of the factors identified in the statute. Nevertheless, when the statutory factors are properly considered, and supporting factual findings are not clearly in error, the district court's judgment of how opposing considerations balance should not lightly be disturbed.
Because the District Court did not fully explicate its reasons for dismissing with prejudice the substantive drug charges against respondent, we are left to speculate in response to some of the parties' arguments pro and con. Respondent, for example, argues that the District Court may have taken into account the fact that respondent's codefendant had been sentenced on the same charges to three years' imprisonment, and that by dismissing the drug charges but sentencing respondent to five years' imprisonment on the failure-to-appear charge, it would be possible to effect substantial justice while sending at the same time "a strong message" to the Marshals Service and the local United States Attorney. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 29, 32. There are several problems with that line of reasoning, not the least of which is that the District Court did not articulate it. To the extent that respondent is suggesting that his codefendant's 3-year sentence implies that the offenses with which both were charged were not "serious," his argument is directly at odds
With regard to the second factor that the statute requires a court to consider, that is, the circumstances of the case leading to dismissal, we find it difficult to know what to make of the District Court's characterization of the Government's conduct as "lackadaisical." We do not dispute that a truly neglectful attitude on the part of the Government reasonably could be factored against it in a court's consideration of this issue, but the District Court gave no indication of the foundation for its conclusion. The court's discussion following that
Then there is the fact of respondent's failure to appear. The Government was prepared to go to trial on the 69th day of the indictment-to-trial period, and it was respondent, not the prosecution, who prevented the trial from going forward in a timely fashion. Respondent argues that he has been charged separately and punished for his failure to appear for trial, that all the time he was at large has been excluded from the speedy trial calculation, and that the District Court therefore was correct in not considering his flight as a factor in deciding whether to bar reprosecution. Respondent also observes that the Court of Appeals held, and the Government does not dispute here, that his failure to appear for a trial scheduled with only one day remaining in the indictment-to-trial period does not restart the full 70-day
The Government argues that the District Court failed to consider that the delay caused by the Government's unexcused conduct was brief, and that there was no consequential prejudice to respondent. The length of delay, a measure of the seriousness of the speedy trial violation, in some ways is closely related to the issue of the prejudice to the defendant. The longer the delay, the greater the presumptive or actual prejudice to the defendant, in terms of his ability to prepare for trial or the restrictions on his liberty:
The District Court found the Act's 70-day indictment-to-trial period here was exceeded by 14 nonexcludable days, but made no finding of prejudice. Indeed, the Court of Appeals concluded that the delay, "although not wholly insubstantial, was not so great as to mandate dismissal with prejudice." 821 F. 2d, at 1385. That court also found that there was no prejudice to respondent's trial preparation. Ibid. And, as respondent was being held to answer not only for the drug charges but also on a valid bench warrant issued after he did not appear, neither does there seem to have been any additional restrictions or burdens on his liberty as a result of the speedy trial violation.
Perhaps there was more to the District Court's decision than meets the eye. It is always difficult to review a cold appellate record and acquire a full understanding of all the
Ordinarily, a trial court is endowed with great discretion to make decisions concerning trial schedules and to respond to abuse and delay where appropriate. The Speedy Trial Act, however, confines the exercise of that discretion more narrowly,
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE WHITE, concurring.
I join the Court's opinion, agreeing that when a defendant, through deliberate misconduct, interferes with compliance with the Speedy Trial Act and a violation of the Act then occurs, dismissal with prejudice should not be ordered unless the violation is caused by Government conduct that is much more serious than is revealed by this record.
JUSTICE SCALIA, concurring in part.
I join the opinion of the Court except Part II-A, which is largely devoted to establishing, through the floor debate in the House, (1) that prejudice to the defendant is one of the factors that the phrase "among others" in § 3162(a)(2) refers to, and (2) that that factor is not necessarily determinative. Both these points seem to me so utterly clear from the text of the legislation that there is no justification for resort to the legislative history. Assume that there was nothing in the legislative history except statements that, unless the defendant had been harmed by the delay, dismissal with prejudice could not be granted. Would we permit that to govern, even though the text of the provision does not consider that factor dominant enough to be mentioned specifically, but just includes it within the phrase "among othe[r] [factors]," or perhaps within the phrase "facts and circumstances of the case which led to the dismissal"? Or assume the opposite, that
I think the answer to both these questions is obviously no. The text is so unambiguous on these points that it must be assumed that what the Members of the House and the Senators thought they were voting for, and what the President thought he was approving when he signed the bill, was what the text plainly said, rather than what a few Representatives, or even a Committee Report, said it said. Where we are not prepared to be governed by what the legislative history says — to take, as it were, the bad with the good — we should not look to the legislative history at all. This text is eminently clear, and we should leave it at that.
It should not be thought that, simply because adverting to the legislative history produces the same result we would reach anyway, no harm is done. By perpetuating the view that legislative history can alter the meaning of even a clear statutory provision, we produce a legal culture in which the following statement could be made — taken from a portion of the floor debate alluded to in the Court's opinion:
We should not make the equivalency between making legislative history and making an amendment so plausible. It should not be possible, or at least should not be easy, to be sure of obtaining a particular result in this Court without making that result apparent on the face of the bill which both Houses consider and vote upon, which the President approves,
JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE BRENNAN and JUSTICE MARSHALL join, dissenting.
This is the kind of case that reasonable judges may decide differently. The issues have been narrowed by the Government's abandonment of the two principal arguments that it advanced in the District Court and in the Court of Appeals.
A judge who has personally participated in the series of events that culminates in an order of dismissal has a much better understanding, not only of what actually happened, but also of the significance of certain events, than does a judge who must reconstruct that history from a confusing sequence of written orders and motions. Moreover, the trial judge is privy to certain information not always reflected in the appellate record, such as her impression of the demeanor and attitude
This is not a case in which dismissal with prejudice resulted in a dangerous criminal promptly returning to society without suffering substantial punishment for his wrongs. Rather, the District Court only dismissed the charges dealing with narcotics violations, while denying the motion to dismiss the failure-to-appear charge.
The majority, however, declines to consider this important fact, concluding that it would have been improper for the District Judge to have given any weight to the presence of the remaining charge. I strongly disagree. Even though respondent was entitled to a presumption of innocence on the failure-to-appear charge, I believe it would be entirely proper to consider the strong possibility of conviction — given the fact that respondent's flight occurred shortly before his case was to be tried, the fact that a failure-to-appear prosecution generally does not involve even moderately complicated
The majority further posits that it would have been "highly improper" for the judge in sentencing respondent on the failure-to-appear charge to consider the dismissed narcotics charges. In my view, just the contrary holds — the facts of the dismissed narcotics charges were highly relevant and should properly have been considered. The statute respondent was charged under defined two classes of violations, each carrying a different sentencing range. Under that statute, a defendant who failed to appear to face felony charges could be sentenced to up to five years' imprisonment, while a defendant who failed to appear to face misdemeanor charges could not be sentenced to more than one year's imprisonment. See 18 U. S. C. § 3150. For the same reason that the statute differentiated between those who fail to appear to face felony and misdemeanor charges, I would think that the severity of the pending charge would be relevant to the determination of where within the 5-year range to fix sentence. While flight to avoid a relatively minor felony charge would not generally merit a 5-year sentence (particularly in cases in which the possible sentence for the underlying charge is substantially less than five years), flight to avoid a murder trial
In addition, the majority appears to assume that the District Judge intended to impose a higher sentence for the failure-to-appear charge based on her "untested and unsubstantiated assumption of what the facts might have been shown to be with regard to the drug charges." Ante, at 338, n. 9. Yet, there is no basis for Court's assumption that the judge planned to take into account the narcotics charge without informing the parties of her intention to do so and without permitting them the opportunity to proffer relevant evidence. Indeed, the concern the Court expresses today did not come to fruition in this case. Not only has respondent not complained of unfair treatment, his attorney informs us that respondent requested to be sentenced "for [his] total conduct." Tr. of Oral Arg. 32. The greater risk of unfair treatment is presented by the possibility that respondent will now be sentenced twice for the same misconduct.
Nor can I agree with the Court's conclusion that the District Court did not offer any "indication of the foundation for its conclusion" that the Government's conduct leading to the Speedy Trial violation was "lackadaisical." Ante, at 338. Of particular importance, the District Judge found that the clock ran, in part, as a result of the Marshals Service's failure to comply with a court order from a San Mateo County judge requiring that respondent be produced in state court. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 28a, 30a. Failure to comply with a court order is certainly a serious matter, and, if anything, the District Court's characterization of such a violation as "lackadaisical" appears understated. Although the dissenting judge on the Court of Appeals expressed the view that a state court judge cannot order that the United States Marshal produce a defendant and that the respondent could have
On the record before us, I do not know whether I would have dismissed counts I and II with prejudice had I been confronted with the issue as a district judge. As a district judge, I would know that a dismissal without prejudice would be a rather meaningless sanction unless, of course, the statutes of limitations had run, in which event the choice between dismissal with and without prejudice would itself be meaningless. I would also know — especially if I had foreknowledge of the opinion announced today — that I could best avoid reversal by adopting a consistent practice of dismissing without prejudice, even though such a practice would undermine the years of labor that have gone into enacting and construing the Speedy Trial Act. I would have assumed, however, that the choice of remedy was one that was committed to my discretion and that if I set forth a sensible explanation for my choice that it would withstand appellate review.
Although the Court's opinion today boils down to a criticism of the adequacy of the District Judge's explanation for her ruling, see ante, at 342-343, her opinion identifies the correct statutory criteria and, in my view, proceeds to apply them in a clear and sensible fashion. After explaining why she found the Government's legal arguments to be without merit, she wrote:
Congress enacted the Speedy Trial Act because of its concern that this Court's previous interpretations of the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial had drained the constitutional right of any "real meaning."
I respectfully dissent.
"In any case in which a plea of not guilty is entered, the trial of a defendant charged in an information or indictment with the commission of an offense shall commence within seventy days from the filing date (and making public) of the information or indictment, or from the date the defendant has appeared before a judicial officer of the court in which such charge is pending, whichever date last occurs. If a defendant consents in writing to be tried before a magistrate on a complaint, the trial shall commence within seventy days from the date of such consent."
"The following periods of delay shall be excluded in computing the time within which an information or an indictment must be filed, or in computing the time within which the trial of any such offense must commence:
"(1) Any period of delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the defendant, including but not limited to —
"(D) delay resulting from trial with respect to other charges against the defendant;
"(G) delay resulting from any proceeding relating to the transfer of a case or the removal of any defendant from another district under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure;
"(H) delay resulting from transportation of any defendant from another district, . . . except that any time consumed in excess of ten days from the date an order of removal or an order directing such transportation, and the defendant's arrival at the destination shall be presumed to be unreasonable;
"(3)(A) Any period of delay resulting from the absence or unavailability of the defendant or an essential witness."
The Government also argues that some of the time charged by the courts below as speedy trial time should have been excludable under § 3161(h) (1)(D) of the Act, see n. 3, supra, and thus that only 9 instead of 15 non-excludable days elapsed after respondent's capture. Brief for United States 24-26. Because, as is detailed below, our decision in this case does not turn on the distinction between a violation of 8 or of 14 days, we need not decide whether the District Court's application of the Act was erroneous in this respect.
"The district court dismissed the indictment (and with it the entire case against the defendant) with prejudice. I believe this was entirely uncalled for and constituted an abuse of allowable discretion." 821 F. 2d, at 1386 (emphasis supplied).
The mere possibility that the dissenting judge may have overlooked the fact that a charge remained against respondent illustrates the danger of second-guessing district courts in cases of this type.
"The Committee finds that the adoption of speedy trial legislation is necessary in order to give real meaning to that Sixth Amendment right. Thus far, neither the decisions of the Supreme Court nor the implementation of Rule 50(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, concerning plans for achieving the prompt disposition of criminal cases, provides the courts with adequate guidance on this question." H. R. Rep. No. 93-1508, p. 11 (1974).
" `The position taken here is that the only effective remedy for denial of speedy trial is absolute and complete discharge. If, following undue delay in going to trial, the prosecution is free to commence prosecution again for the same offense, subject only to the running of the statute of limitations, the right to speedy trial is largely meaningless. Prosecutors who are free to commence another prosecution later have not been deterred from undue delay.' " H. R. Rep. No. 93-1508, p. 37 (1974).
As the Committee Report further notes, Judge Zirpoli, the spokesman for the Judicial Conference also endorsed this view. See id., at 38.
Although admitting of qualification in cases involving "compelling evidence that the delay was caused by exceptional circumstances which the government and the court could not have foreseen or avoided," S. 754, 93d Cong., 2d Sess., § 101 (1974), the Senate Committee on the Judiciary agreed in principle with the position articulated by the American Bar Association, see S. Rep. No. 93-1021, p. 16 (1974). See also Speedy Trial, Hearings on S. 895 before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 92d Cong., 1st Sess., 21 (1971) (statement of Sen. Hart).