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Klopfer v. State of North Carolina
United States Supreme Court
386 U.S. 213 (1967)
Klopfer (defendant) was a civil-rights protester who was indicted by the state of North Carolina (plaintiff) for misdemeanor criminal trespass in 1964 after disobeying an order to leave a restaurant. Klopfer’s trial the following month ended in a mistrial, and his case was continued for several terms of court. Eighteen months after Klopfer’s indictment and over his objection, the court granted the prosecutor’s motion for nolle prosequi without leave. A nolle prosequi without leave was a unique feature of North Carolina law that permitted a prosecutor to abandon a prosecution with the option to resume it at any time. Because a nolle prosequi without leave did not discharge an indictment, the statute of limitations was tolled, allowing a criminal defendant to remain under indictment indefinitely without a trial. Klopfer appealed the trial court’s ruling, arguing that he had been deprived of his right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed the trial court’s ruling, reasoning that because Klopfer was not in custody, his right to a speedy trial had not been violated. Klopfer appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Warren, C.J.)
Concurrence (Harlan, J.)
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