Barker v. Wingo

United States Supreme Court407 U.S. 514 (1972)

Facts

Two suspects were arrested for killing an older couple. The state had a stronger case against Manning so it planned to try Manning first so that he would then testify at Barker’s (defendant) trial. The state encountered many problems with Manning’s trial. After six trials and four years, Manning was finally convicted of both murders. During this time, the state continued to request continuances in Barker’s trial. In all, it made 16 such requests. Upon the state’s twelfth request, Barker filed a motion to dismiss the indictment but his motion was denied and the continuance was granted. Barker then objected to the state’s fifteenth request for a continuance. By this time, Manning’s trials were over but the request was denied and the continuance granted because the state’s chief investigating officer was sick. The witness was still unable to testify when the new trial date came around so an additional continuance was granted. Barker again requested that the indictment be dismissed, specifying that his right to a speedy trial had been violated. His motion was denied. Finally the trial commenced and Barker was convicted. The state court of appeals affirmed the conviction. Barker petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for habeas corpus but the court ruled that he had waived his right to a speedy trial for the entire period before he objected to the state’s fifteenth request for a continuance. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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