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Why Did It Take 7 Years For This Man To Get A Trial After Marijuana Bust?

A New York man had to wait seven years before courts would hear his trial for marijuana growing charges. Withstanding a calamity of “small neglects,” Joseph Tigano experienced “the most egregious trial delay it had ever seen,” wrote the United States Appeals Court for the Second Circuit.

According to the New York Times, the courts castigated everyone involved in the case including lawyers, judges, US Marshals, prosecutors, and even a court reporter. As a result, the appeals court dismissed Tigano’s indictment, freed after two years into his sentence and nine years after his arrest. The courts did not hold back their negative opinions on the proceedings of how Tigano spent that much time awaiting trial.

“No single, extraordinary factor caused the cumulative seven years of pretrial delay,” the appellate judges wrote. “Instead, the outcome was the result of countless small choices and neglects.”

The case started back in 2008 when the Drug Enforcement Agency descended upon Tigano’s residence and discovered a “hydroponic marijuana grow operation” with over 1,000 plants. Both Tigano and his father, Joseph Tigano Sr., received marijuana distribution charges.

Whereas his father accepted a plea deal, Tigano himself fought the charges. He reminded the jury his right to speedy trial about 10 times, which caused his lawyer Thomas Farley to request that Tigano undergo a mental competency test. His results came back fine, but it would be the first of three different mental competency tests the courts would force him to take.

Via New York Times:

Over the next two years, the court said, Mr. Tigano’s case became mired in “confusion among judges” and various other “small neglects.” There were three different jurists handling different aspects of the case, and they often found themselves awaiting the others’ decisions. The government was also slow in turning over discovery material, according to the opinion. At one point, as an important hearing neared, a court reporter filed a transcript nearly four months late.

Experiencing various other delays, Tigano would wait until May 4, 2015 for his trial to begin. A jury would find him guilty just four days later.

“There was no reason why he should have endured seven years of pretrial incarceration for a one-week trial,” said Gary Stein, Tigano’s appeals attorney. “Things like this aren’t supposed to happen.”

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