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United States v. Kuhnel

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 19, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN EDWIN KUHNEL, Defendant.

          Erica H. MacDonald, United States Attorney, and Manda M. Sertich, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          Glenn P. Bruder, for defendant.

          ORDER

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         Defendant John Kuhnel was indicted for receipt and possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(2), 2252(b)(1), 2252(a)(4)(B) and 2252(b)(2). Kuhnel moves to dismiss the indictment and for release from custody, asserting that his rights under the Speedy Trial Act have been violated. Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson wrote a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the Court deny the Motion. Kuhnel has now objected to the R&R. Because Kuhnel's speedy trial rights have not been violated, the Court will deny the objection and adopt the R&R.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual Background

         The facts relevant to Kuhnel's objection are not in dispute. Thus, the Court will summarize the pertinent facts and notes that a more extensive explanation of the procedural history is provided in the R&R. (See R&R, Oct. 30, 2018, Docket No. 91.)

         Kuhnel was indicted on July 11, 2017. (Indictment, July 11, 2017, Docket No. 14.) He has yet to be brought to trial. His trial has been delayed because of various pre-trial motions filed by both the United States and Kuhnel, including several requests by Kuhnel's counsel to delay the trial and pro se motions by Kuhnel to replace his attorney.

         At one point, Kuhnel had a trial date set for February 12, 2018. (Amended Trial Notice, Dec. 18, 2017, Docket No. 47.) On January 22, he requested a change of plea hearing at which he intended to plead guilty, and which was set for February 21. (Notice, Jan. 22, 2018, Docket No. 49.) Thus, his February 12 trial date was disregarded. However, Kuhnel changed his mind before the plea hearing, and on February 27, requested a 60-day trial delay to further consider the plea agreement. (1st Statement of Facts, Feb. 27, 2018, Docket No. 51.) To facilitate this request, the Court moved the trial to April 23. (1st Order Granting Mot., Feb. 28, 2018, Docket No. 52.)

         On March 19, Kuhnel filed a pro se motion to replace his attorney, citing a deteriorating relationship. (1st Pro Se Mot., Mar. 19, 2018, Docket No. 54.) Because a hearing on the motion was needed, Kuhnel's trial was rescheduled to May 21. (Trial Notice, Mar. 21, 2018, Docket No. 53.) His motion was eventually denied by the Magistrate Judge on April 12, 2018, and he objected to that decision on April 25. (Pro Se Appeal, Apr. 25, 2018, Docket No. 59.) Also on April 25, Kuhnel requested a 90-day delay of trial in order to arrange a forensic examination of his computer. (2d Statement of Facts, Apr. 25, 2018, Docket No. 62.) His request was granted, and his trial moved to July 23. (2d Order Granting Mot., Apr. 27, 2018, Docket No. 63.) On June 12, the Court denied his objection to the Magistrate Judge's order. (Mem. Opinion and Order, June 12, 2018, Docket No. 64.)

         Despite his request for an extension of trial to conduct a forensic examination, Kuhnel's attorney had not yet arranged one. Thus, on June 18, nearly two months after the original request, he requested another 90 days for the same purpose, and his trial was moved to September 17. (3rd Order Granting Mot., June 27, 2018, Docket No. 67.)

         On July 9, Kuhnel filed a second pro se motion to replace his counsel. (2d Pro Se Mot., July 9, 2018, Docket No. 68.) The Magistrate Judge denied this request, Kuhnel again objected to the denial, and the Court affirmed it September 5. (Order, Sept. 5, 2018, Docket No. 75.)

         On September 11, Kuhnel's counsel, for a third time, moved to delay trial an additional 90 days, but this time the request was not signed or supported by Kuhnel. (Mot. to Exclude Time, Sept. 11, 2018, Docket No. 77.) Kuhnel's counsel requested the delay because “the time required for the court to rule” on Kuhnel's motions to replace his attorney “resulted in a delay on the part of counsel to adequately prepare” for trial. (Id.) In order to determine a viable way to move the case forward, the Court held a status conference on September 19. At the status conference, the Court released Kuhnel's counsel from the case and denied his motion for an extension of time as moot. (Minutes, Sept. 19, 2018, Docket No. 81.)

         II. ...


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