United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. TEETER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
government seeks continuance of the trial set for April 1,
2019, so that Devonte Jemell Starks can be tried with his
alleged co-conspirators who were named in a superseding
indictment filed March 6, 2019. Mr. Starks opposes the
continuance, again asserting his speedy trial rights, and
seeks to sever his trial. Given the unique circumstances and
procedural posture of the case, the Court denies the
government's motion to continue and retains the April 1,
2019 trial date set in the Trial Order.
November 14, 2018, a grand jury returned a three-count
indictment charging Mr. Starks with drug conspiracy and other
drug charges. Doc. 1. Mr. Starks was the sole defendant, and
the indictment did not name the alleged co-conspirators. But
the grand jury returned two other indictments that same day
in different cases, charging Toya Shaneen Avery, Lamika Devon
Watt, and Kevin Darnell Scott with the same charges.
See Doc. 43 at 8 (citing case numbers).
Starks was arrested and arraigned on January 15, 2019. At his
first status conference on February 26, 2019, Mr. Starks
asserted his right to a speedy trial. The Court set trial for
April 1, 2019, which-at that time-was one day before his
speedy trial deadline. The government agreed to this trial
date but noted that Ms. Avery, one of the alleged (but
un-named at that time) co-conspirators, had recently been
arrested in a separate case and that it might seek a
continuance based on her arrest.
March 6, 2019, the grand jury returned a superseding
indictment in the instant case with the same charges but
adding Ms. Avery, Ms. Watt, and Mr. Scott as co-defendants.
The superseding indictment was unsealed on March 18, 2019.
Mr. Starks and Ms. Avery made their initial appearances on
this superseding indictment on March 19, 2019. At that
hearing, Mr. Starks again asserted his right to a speedy
same day, the government filed the instant motion requesting
a continuance of the trial date for an unspecified amount of
time so that all co-defendants could be tried in a single
trial. Doc. 25. Mr. Starks filed an opposition and requested
severance. Doc. 38. And the government filed a
reply. Doc. 43. The Court is now prepared to
issues before the Court are whether the government has shown
that a continuance is warranted and, if not, whether Mr.
Starks's trial should be severed from his co-defendants
and proceed as scheduled.
Motion to Continue
courts have the inherent authority to manage their dockets
with a view toward the efficient and expedient resolution of
cases. Dietz v. Bouldin, 136 S.Ct. 1885, 1892
(2016). This includes the discretion to grant or deny
continuances. United States v. Dowlin, 408 F.3d 647,
663 (10th Cir. 2005). Although not cited by the government in
its motion, the Court considers four factors in deciding
whether to grant a continuance:
(1) the diligence of the party requesting the continuance;
(2) the likelihood that the continuance, if granted, would
accomplish the purpose underlying the party's expressed
need for the continuance; (3) the inconvenience to the
opposing party, its witnesses, and the court resulting from
the continuance; [and] (4) the need asserted for the
continuance and the harm that [the moving party] might suffer
as a result of the district court's denial of the
these factors, the government has not met its burden to
justify a continuance. First, as to the diligence of the
moving party, this factor weighs against the government.
Although the government did suggest at the status conference
that it might seek a continuance, it waited three weeks
before filing its motion. The government has not provided any
explanation for this delay, nor has it explained what-if
anything-changed in that time period. Although the government
half-heartedly points to the superseding indictment as
justification, this purported justification only further