St. Johnsbury Defense Attorney David Sleigh is now 6-0 when it comes to getting cases dismissed due to violations of his client’s speedy trial rights.
Sleigh has filed motions in Orleans Superior Court to dismiss criminal cases against 34 of his clients which have been pending for years.
The motions are being reviewed by Judge Robert A. Mello on a case-by-case basis following a day-long hearing in which Sleigh argued that his clients were suffering unnecessarily from the delay and being denied their constitutional rights.
The Orleans County State’s Attorney’s Office opposed Sleigh’s motions but as of Tuesday Judge Mello has now dismissed six of those cases.
“These decisions show that our courts recognize that everyone that the State accuses of a crime has a right to a speedy trial,” said Attorney Sleigh on Tuesday. “And, concurrently, that despite challenging circumstances, it is the State’s burden to make that right a reality.”
Earlier this month, Judge Mello dismissed cases against three of Sleigh’s clients including Matthew and Raymond Geoffroy and Christian Goulet – who had all been accused of hunting violations.
Then on Tuesday, Judge Mello dismissed charges against three more Sleigh clients including Luke Gosselin, who had been charged in 2018 with drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident, Jared Lefebvre who had been accused in 2019 of violating an abuse prevention order and Eric Brigham, who had been charged in 2019 with felony financial exploitation of an elderly woman.
“Upon a balancing of these aforementioned factors, the court finds that the Defendant has been deprived of his right to a speedy trial,” wrote Judge Mello in his 8-page decision dismissing the charge against Brigham. “He has experienced the anxiety and prejudice associated with having waited nearly three years for a trial.”
The judge made similar rulings in the other dismissed cases.