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Flores-Gomez v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

January 10, 2020

LUIS ANTONIO FLORES-GOMEZ, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable John R. Perry, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Office of the Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief Appellate Counsel; Robin S. Cooper, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

          Representing Appellee: Bridget L. Hill, Wyoming Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Benjamin E. Fischer, Assistant Attorney General.

          Before DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.

          BOOMGAARDEN, JUSTICE

         [¶1] A jury convicted Luis Antonio Flores-Gomez of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. On appeal, he argues that he was denied a speedy trial under W.R.Cr.P. 48. We affirm.

         ISSUE

         [¶2] We rephrase the sole issue on appeal as whether Mr. Flores-Gomez was denied his right to a speedy trial under W.R.Cr.P. 48.

         FACTS

         [¶3] In February 2018, the State charged Mr. Flores-Gomez with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, in violation of Wyoming Statute § 6-2-314(a)(ii). The State alleged that, between August and November 2016, he inflicted sexual intrusion on the victim when he was eighteen years of age or older, the victim was less than eighteen, and he was the victim's legal guardian or an individual specified in § 6-4-402 (the incest statute). Given the issue on appeal, it is unnecessary to recount the underlying facts of the offense.

         [¶4] A court-appointed public defender entered his appearance on behalf of Mr. Flores-Gomez in the circuit court and demanded a speedy trial under W.R.Cr.P. 48, the Wyoming Constitution, and the United States Constitution. The circuit court held a preliminary hearing and bound the case over to the district court for arraignment and further proceedings. Defense counsel filed a similar request for speedy trial in the district court.

         [¶5] On April 9, 2018, the district court arraigned Mr. Flores-Gomez, starting the 180-day speedy trial clock under W.R.Cr.P. 48. The court scheduled trial to begin the week of August 6, 2018. At the pretrial conference in early July, the court discussed various matters with the parties and decided to set aside five days for trial. Defense counsel requested additional time to consider the State's plea offer due to a language barrier between himself and Mr. Flores-Gomez. The court agreed to keep the plea date open but asked defense counsel to address the matter "sooner than later" because they would need multiple translators for trial, and it would be difficult to schedule them without advance notice.

         [¶6] When the court subsequently moved the trial to October 1, Mr. Flores-Gomez, through counsel, moved to vacate and reset the trial due to a scheduling conflict. In the motion, defense counsel informed the court that he had "to attend the annual Public Defender Conference for continued legal education and training from October 3rd through the 5th[.]" Defense counsel further informed the court that Mr. Flores-Gomez was "not willing to waive speedy trial" and identified his speedy trial deadline as October 6.[1]

         [¶7] The court held a hearing on the motion at the end of August where it candidly acknowledged that it did not "know what to do" about the motion and speedy trial deadline.[2] Addressing the procedural history of the case to create a record of the proceedings thus far, the court explained that it had originally scheduled a five-day trial for August, but the case did not go forward for various reasons; then, the court had scheduled the five-day trial (with two translators) to begin on October 1. When the court asked for his input, defense counsel informed the court that he did not know what to do either. He noted that, on one hand, Mr. Flores-Gomez did not want to waive his right to a speedy trial. But, on the other hand, defense counsel needed to attend the conference to fulfill his continuing legal education requirement for the year. Defense counsel informed the court that if it ruled that he could not attend the conference, then he would contact his supervisor about other training options. The State acknowledged the conundrum but took no position on its resolution. The court ultimately decided "to take another look at it and see if there's someplace that [it could] move this within a very narrow time frame, that would not unduly prejudice ...


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