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State v. Heath

Supreme Court of Montana

December 27, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
BRAD HEATH, Defendant and Appellant,

          Submitted on Briefs: November 8, 2018

          District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, In and For the County of Jefferson, Cause No. DC-2015-013 Honorable John C. Brown, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Jeremy S. Yellin, Attorney at Law, Havre, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Roy Brown, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Steve Haddon, Jefferson County Attorney, Danielle Perry, Deputy County Attorney, Boulder, Montana

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath, Chief Justice.

         ¶1 Brad M. Heath appeals from a March 27, 2017 Fifth Judicial District Court order denying his motion to dismiss for lack of speedy trial and from the admission of his blood alcohol concentration into evidence. We affirm. ¶2 We restate the issues on appeal as follows:

         1. Did the District Court err when it denied Heath's motion to dismiss for lack of speedy trial?

         2. Did the District Court err when it admitted Heath's blood alcohol concentration into evidence?

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Between the time Heath was arrested and charged and when the jury trial occurred, 811 days elapsed.

         ¶4 On April 10, 2015, Heath was arrested and incarcerated for driving under the influence of alcohol; he posted bond the same day. On April 17, 2015, the State filed an information charging Heath with driving under the influence of alcohol, his fourth or subsequent offense, a felony in violation of § 61-8-401, MCA. Alternatively, the State charged Heath with operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration ("BAC") of 0.08 or greater, his fourth or subsequent offense, a felony in violation of § 61-8-406(1)(a), MCA. On April 22, 2015, Heath appeared before the District Court and pleaded not guilty to both charges.

         ¶5 At the Omnibus Hearing on July 1, 2015, the District Court set Heath's case for trial on November 9 and 10, 2015. The final pretrial conference was set for October 13, 2015. However, on September 29, 2015, Heath filed a motion to continue the final pretrial conference and trial because he no longer intended to accept a pending plea offer and because he was awaiting the appointment of new counsel. The State did not oppose the motion. On October 8, 2015, the District Court entered an order continuing the trial to June 6, 2016, and the final pretrial conference to May 16, 2016. New counsel filed an appearance on October 16, 2015.

         ¶6 On May 10, 2016, Heath filed a second motion to continue the trial and final pretrial conference. Heath claimed that he needed additional time to prepare his defense, and asserted that his employment schedule conflicted with the trial setting. Heath represented to the District Court that the State would not oppose his motion if Heath agreed to file a waiver of speedy trial. Heath's motion stated, "a Waiver of Speedy Trial for the purposes of this continuance will be forthcoming." Heath did not file a subsequent document. The District Court granted Heath's motion to continue and the final pretrial conference and trial were rescheduled to August 30, 2016, and September 29, 2016, respectively.

         ¶7 On July 11, 2016, Heath's counsel filed a motion to withdraw, citing Heath's desire to proceed pro se. ...


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