SCOGA suspends 90-Day indictment requirement, allowing indefinite detention

The Federal Docket

August 7, 2020

On August 6, 2020, the Supreme Court of Georgia held that the Court’s previous judicial emergency orders suspend the right of a defendant to be released on bond if he has not been indicted within 90 days. Under O.C.G.A. 17-7-50, a defendant who is denied release on bond pending trial must be indicted within 90 days or he is automatically entitled to be released on bond. The state can seek an extension of the 90 days, but is not entitled to one.

The Supreme Court focused on the language of the Chief Justice’s order, which suspended, tolled, extended, or otherwise granted relief “from any deadlines or other time schedules or filing requirements imposed by otherwise applicable statutes in criminal cases, including any time within which to return a bill of indictment or an accusation or to bring a matter before a grand jury.”

The Court’s holding means that un-indicted defendants can be detained indefinitely without bond. The Court noted in a footnote that the defendant had not raised any constitutional issues, and it may be possible for future litigants to raise a constitutional speedy trial claim.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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