The Speedy Trial Act and Electronic Discovery
This week, Magistrate Judge Debra C. Poplin issued a decision, United States v. Babenco, No. 3:19-CR-60-TAV-DCP, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204972 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 26, 2019), granting the Defendant's motion to continue the April 2020 trial date in order to allow it time to review a voluminous electronic discovery. The production is comprised of 67,000 files of medical record data that totaled 135 GBs. Defense counsel stated that the files were in a format that was difficult to review. The Government acknowledged the difficulty of the review, and did not oppose the motion. The Government alleges that the Defendants in this case, who are medical professionals, distributed controlled substances for illegitimate purposes.
The case was previously classified as a complex trial under the Speedy Trial Act. With such a complex trial it is unreasonable for a court to expect parties to be prepared for a trial within the limits set by the Act, which requires trial dates to be set 70 days from the filing date if the Defendant pleads not guilty. In setting a motion for a new trial date in September 2020, Judge Poplin noted that, "Counsel have related that the electronic discovery is not easily searchable and difficult to navigate. The Court also observes that the nature of the case, which involves allegations that medical providers issued prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose, will likely require the use of medical experts and additional research and investigation beyond that customary in the typical drug-trafficking case. " Id. at *5.