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CHARLES ALLEN NATIONS v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

NOVEMBER 20, 1985

CHARLES ALLEN NATIONS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., HAWKINS AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Charles Allen Nations was charged and convicted of a sale of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, in an amount of more than one kilogram, in violation of Miss. Code Ann. 41-29-139 (a)(1) and 41-29-133 (c)(11) (Supp. 1984). He was sentenced to a term of eight (8) years, with four years suspended in accordance with the provisions of Miss. Code Ann. 41-29-139 (b)(1) (Supp. 1984). Charles Allen Nations now prosecutes this appeal to this Court assigning as error the trial judge's denial of his motion to quash the indictment for failure of the State to prosecute the case within the 270 day time limit provided in Miss. Code Ann. 99-17-1 (Supp. 1984). *fn1

On the evening of March 3, 1983, in Satartia, Yazoo County, Mississippi, an undercover agent for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics arranged for a purchase of fifty pounds of marijuana from one Donald Lugrin and his cohorts, one of whom was Charles Allen Nations. All arrangements for the sale were completed at Lugrins mobile home and the transfer of the drugs and the purchase money was to be effected at a dump site where the drugs had been stashed. At the moment of transfer, the undercover agent and his colleagues, who had been hiding in the camper shell of the truck used by him, surprised and arrested one Earl Harris, a member of the defendant team. Charles Allen Nations, the Defendant below and Appellant here, was thereafter arrested at Lugrin's mobile home along with the others. Suffice it to say that there is an abundance of evidence in this record which places the jury's verdict of guilty well beyond our authority to disturb. Williams v. State, 463 So.2d 1064, 1067-68 (Miss. 1985). We do not understand Nations to argue seriously to the contrary.

 Miss. Code Ann. 99-17-1 (Supp. 1984) states:

 Unless good cause be shown, and a continuance duly granted by the court, all offenses for which indictments are presented to the court shall be tried no later than two hundred seventy (270) days

 after the accused has been arraigned.

 The speedy trial statute is plain and unambiguous. Payne v. State, 363 So.2d 278, 279 (Miss. 1978). This statute requires that a defendant must be tried no later than 270 days after his arraignment unless good cause for delay is shown. Speague v. State, 390 So.2d 990, 993 (Miss. 1980); Durham v. State, 377 So.2d 909 (Miss. 1979). The time prior to arraignment is not computed to determine compliance with the statute. Perry v. State, 419 So.2d 194, 198 (Miss. 1982); Davis v. State, 406 So.2d 795 (Miss. 1981).

 It is axiomatic that "a defendant has no duty to bring himself to trial" . Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 527, 92 S. Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101, 115 (1972); Turner v. State, 383 So.2d 489, 491 (Miss. 1980). In cases involving our Section 99-17-1 where the facts reflect that the accused's trial did not commence within 270 days of arraignment, the State bears the burden of establishing that there was good cause for the delay. Turner v. State, 383 So.2d 489, 491 (Miss. 1980); Durham v. State, 377 So.2d 909 (Miss. 1979). Where the record is silent regarding the reason for delay, the clock ticks against the State, for the State bears the risk of non-persuasion on the good cause issue.

 Background for our consideration of the issue tendered is the statutory provision for four terms of circuit court in Yazoo County each year: January, April, August and November. Miss. Code 9-7-23 (1972). Between the date of Nations' arraignment until the date of his trial, court terms opened

 (a) on November 7, 1983, for eighteen (18) days;

 (b) on January 9, 1984, for eighteen (18) days ;

 ( c) on April 2, 1984, for eighteen (18) days ; and

 (d) on August 6, 1984, for eighteen (18) days.

 The record reflects that more than 387 days elapsed between the time of arraignment and the time of trial. While not all of this delay is explained fully in the record, much of it is attributable to a continuance granted for good cause and to ...


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