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October 21, 1994


On Appellant's Motion for Summary Reversal and Appellee's Cross-Motion for Summary Affirmance. (Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge).

Before Terry, Schwelb, and King, Associate Judges, in chambers.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

PER CURIAM: The Bail Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 1992 *fn1 ("Act") provides, in D.C. Code § 23-1322 (h) (1994 Supp.), that a person detained pursuant to its provisions must he indicted within 90 days, and tried within 100 days of the initial detention. The issue presented in this appeal is whether the Superior Court, in the absence of an application by the government for good cause shown, and where no statutory exception applies, can detain a defendant beyond the time allowed by the Act. We conclude that it cannot, and therefore hold that under those circumstances a defendant may not be detained without conditions of release beyond 100 days.


Best was presented along with a co-defendant *fn2 in the Superior Court on July 12, 1994, on a complaint alleging two counts of armed robbery, *fn3 one count of unauthorized use of a vehicle, *fn4 and one count of receiving stolen property. *fn5 He was held without bond pending a pretrial detention hearing. At the hearing on July 15, the trial Judge granted the government's motion for pretrial detention pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-1322 (b)(1)(a) (1994 Supp.). *fn6 On August 10 indictments were filed against the defendants, and on August 18 they entered pleas of not guilty. Trial was scheduled for October 12, 1994.

On October 12 the government announced that it was ready for trial, but because counsel for the co-defendant, who was engaged in another trial, could not proceed, the case was continued to October 19. When the parties appeared for trial on that date, the trial Judge indicated that he was in trial in another case and therefore unavailable. As a result, the trial date was continued to October 20, the 100th day of Best's detention. See D.C. Code § 23-1322 (h) (1994 Supp.). *fn7

On October 20, the trial Judge, after informing the parties that his other trial was still in progress, continued Best's trial until October 24. The Judge also extended Best's pretrial detention until the new trial date, ruling that it was within his discretion to do so. Best, however, argued that the trial court had no authority to continue his detention sua sponte under D.C. Code § 23-1322 (h). He asserted that the 100-day detention could be extended by 20 days only upon application by the government, and for good cause shown that an extension was needed for the government to prepare for trial. Specifically, Best claimed that the trial court had no authority to detain him for an additional four days based on the unavailability of the trial Judge or because of court congestion. He then requested that conditions of release be imposed pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-1321 because his trial had not commenced within 100 days as required by D.C. Code § 23-1322 (h). The trial court denied Best's request.

Best noted this appeal on October 21, 1994, and moved for summary reversal of the trial court's order. The government filed an opposition to appellant's motion for summary reversal and a cross-motion for summary affirmance. On that same date we entered a judgment granting the motion for summary reversal and denying appellee's cross-motion for summary affirmance for the reasons set forth below.


The government argues that the trial court has "traditional inherent authority" to determine the propriety of pretrial detention, and thus has authority to extend appellant's pretrial detention for 20 extra days without a motion for extension by the government. The government relies on Carbo v. United States, 82 S.Ct. 662, 668, 7 L.Ed.2d 769, 773 (1962) (Justice Douglas, in chambers), and United States v. Gilbert, 138 U.S. App. D.C. 59, 60, 425 F.2d 490, 491 (1969), for the proposition that the trial court has inherent authority to revoke bail and to ensure orderly trial processes. The government also asserts that this court recognized in Blunt v. United States, 322 A.2d 579, 584 (D.C. 1974), that the Bail Reform Act codified traditional judicial discretion in regard to bail, and that Hazel v. United States, 483 A.2d 1157 (D.C. (1984), *fn8 does not alter that proposition.


We reject the government's "inherent authority" argument. "In our society, liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception." United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755, 95 L. Ed. 2d 697, 107 S. Ct. 2095 (1987). In Hazel we held that the trial court's "inherent authority" under Carbo and Gilbert no longer existed in light of the enactment of D.C. Code § 23-1322, which we described as the exclusive source of the court's power to order pretrial detention." Hazel, (supra) , 483 A.2d at 1159. The statute imposes limitations on the trial court's exercise of its power to order pretrial detention, one of which is a specific time limit within which the trial of the detained person must be commenced. We must also reject the government's reliance on Blunt, as that decision is premised on the inherent authority standard in Carbo and Gilbert, which we held in Hazel to have been superseded by statute.

Unless one of the exceptions have been met, upon expiration of the statutory 100-day period, or of the additional time extended up to a total of 120 days, the defendant must be treated in accordance with the release provisions of D.C. Code § 23-1321. We agree with Best that once the 100 days expired, absent a request by the government to extend his detention, the trial court was required to reconsider his bond status "in accordance with [D.C. Code] § 23-1321 (a) unless the trial is in progress, has been delayed by the timely filing of motions excluding motions for continuance, or has been delayed at the request of the defendant." D.C. Code § 23-1322 (h) (2). None of those exceptions applied in this case.

It is of paramount significance in this case that the government had announced it was ready for trial, never filed a motion for continuance, and never requested that Best's detention be extended due to a need for additional time to prepare for trial. In this court, however, the government contends that, even if we conclude that a government application is necessary for a 20-day extension under D.C. Code ยง 23-1322 (h), we should recognize that the government's position at trial and in this appeal "effectively represents such a request" despite the fact that no formal written request was filed. Further, the government contends that there was good cause to extend appellant's pretrial detention as the lack of an available trial court required 'additional time . . . to prepare for the expedited trial.'" Because the government filed no formal application for an extension for good cause shown, we must reject the government's contention that its position at trial represented a request for extension of ...

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