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State v. Gibson

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 16, 2017

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Steven Daniel Gibson, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Bruce A. Romanick, Judge.

          Wade A. Davison, Assistant State's Attorney, Burleigh County Courthouse, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.

          Thomas J. Glass, for defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.

          OPINION

          TUFTE, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Steven Gibson appeals from a criminal judgment entered upon his conditional guilty plea after the district court rejected his claim that the State violated his right to a speedy trial. The issue is whether the ninety-day period under N.D.C.C. § 29-19-02 began when Gibson gave his speedy trial request to the prison for mailing or whether it began when the district court and the state's attorney received Gibson's request. We affirm, concluding that the ninety-day period under N.D.C.C. § 29-19-02 began when the district court and the state's attorney received Gibson's request for a speedy trial and thus that Gibson's trial was scheduled within ninety days.

         I

         [¶ 2] While incarcerated, Gibson asked his wife through emails and recorded phone calls to sexually molest their fourteen-month-old child for his own immediate gratification and for his stated purpose to "[g]et her used to it." The North Dakota Department of Corrections discovered this correspondence, and the State subsequently charged Gibson with two counts relating to the sexual abuse of his child.

         [¶ 3] On October 2, 2015, Gibson submitted a speedy trial request to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. On October 13, the Department mailed Gibson's request to the district court and the state's attorney. The district court received the request on October 15, and the state's attorney received it on October 16. The district court scheduled a trial for January 6, 2016, ninety-six days after Gibson submitted his request to the Department and eighty-two days after the district court and state's attorney had each received it.

         [¶ 4] On January 4, Gibson moved the district court to dismiss his charges, arguing the State had violated his right to a speedy trial. He argued that the ninety-day time for the district court to begin his trial began running when he submitted his request to the Department. The district court denied Gibson's motion, concluding the State had not violated his right to a speedy trial. Gibson entered a conditional plea of guilty, reserving the right to appeal his speedy trial claim. On appeal, he argues the district court should have scheduled his trial to begin within ninety days of his having submitted his documents to the Department, not within ninety days of the district court and the state's attorney having received them.

         II

         A

         [¶ 5] Gibson claims his speedy trial right was violated when a trial had not begun within 90 days after he submitted his request to the Department for mailing. The issue on appeal is the meaning of the term "elects" in N.D.C.C. § 29-19-02, a question of law we review de novo. State v. Gasal, 2015 ND 43, ¶ 6, 859 N.W.2d 914. In criminal cases involving felony offenses under section 19-03.1-23 (controlled substances offenses) or under chapter 12.1-20 (sex offenses), the speedy trial right "is for the trial to begin within ninety days of the date the party elects this right." N.D.C.C. § 29-19-02. Gibson argues that he "elected" his speedy trial right when he gave the request to the Department. The State argues that Gibson "elected" his right effective when it was received by the court and state's attorney. In this matter of first impression, we construe this section consistent with the Interstate Agreement on Detainers and the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act and conclude that a defendant "elects" his right when the district court and the prosecutor receive the party's request. See State v. Ripley, 548 N.W.2d 24, 27 (N.D. 1996) (holding that under the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act, the ninety-day period begins to run when the district court and prosecuting official receive the defendant's request); see also State v. Moe, 1998 ND 137, ¶ 16, 581 N.W.2d 468 (holding that under North Dakota's Interstate Agreement on Detainers, the ninety-day period begins to run when the state's attorney receives the defendant's request).

         [¶ 6] The State did not violate Gibson's right to a speedy trial under N.D.C.C. § 29-19-02, because the district court scheduled his trial to begin within ninety days of the court and the state's attorney having received his request. The parties agree that the district court received his request on October 15 and the state's attorney received it on October 16. The jury trial was set for January 6, 2016, eighty-two days after October 16, 2015, and ninety-six days after Gibson submitted his request. Because the starting date under § ...


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