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In re Thomas J.
Maryland Court of Appeals
372 Md. 50, 811 A.2d 310 (2002)
Thomas J. (defendant) was arrested for robbery when he was 14 years old and then released to his mother’s custody. Thomas and his mother later moved. Thomas’s mother notified the post office and the detective in charge of Thomas’s case about the move. Thomas’s mother also gave the detective her work phone number, and she continued to work at the same place after the move. Thomas also continued to be enrolled in the same county school system. Over three years after the arrest, the juvenile court served Thomas with a petition charging him with the robbery. Thomas then discovered that the petition and formal charges had been filed a few months after his arrest, but the state (plaintiff) took years to find him. Thomas’s trial was scheduled for a date three years and four months after the charges had been filed. Thomas moved to dismiss the charges on the grounds that he had been denied his right to a speedy trial. In response, the state argued that Thomas’s mother had signed a form agreeing to notify the juvenile-court clerk about any moves and that because she had not complied, the delay was her fault. However, the state never presented the alleged agreement. Further, the state had no excuse for failing to locate Thomas sooner using his mother’s work number or the public-school system. The trial court denied Thomas’s motion to dismiss. The intermediate court of appeals reversed the denial, dismissing the charges against Thomas. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to review the case.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bell, C.J.)
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