For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 6

Rule 600: Ensuring the

Speedy Trial Guarantee Has Bite

I

am not embarrassed to admit that I am a Rule
600 evangelist. If a proper record is laid, you can
win Rule 600 dismissal motions, either outright
or through a generous plea offer your client would
have never gotten otherwise.
The difficulty is twofold: (1) ensuring a proper
record is created long before the Rule 600 timeperiod seems likely to be breached and (2) discerning
the proper legal standards to apply at the ultimate
Rule 600 hearing.
The text of Rule 600 itself is fairly straightforward,
if sometimes overlooked, but the scores of cases
interpreting the rule over the years create a tapestry
that is not subject to a quick and easy Westlaw
search. This is especially true because many of the
cases seemingly contradict one another and the
most recent revisions to the rule have thrown the
area into flux.

6

For The Defense

l

Vol. 4, Issue 4

Katherine Ernst

The only Pennsylvania Supreme Court case
interpreting the most recent version of the Rule,
Commonwealth v. Mills, suggests a reasonably
defense-friendly interpretation.1 Mills leaves a lot of
room for argumentation, so even if you are in front
of an especially intransigent trial judge, it is likely
that your issue is ripe for appeal.

What is Rule 600?
A defendant has a right to a speedy trial under the
United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions.2 Rule
600 was designed to implement the constitutional
right of an accused to a speedy trial, although the
constitutional guarantees continue to provide a
separate and independent basis for asserting a claim
of undue delay.3 The Constitutional test, essentially,
prohibits an unreasonable delay which prejudices
the defendant.4 The Rule 600 test is less nebulous in



For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 4
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 5
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 6
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