On March 28, 2016, Munger, Tolles & Olson attorney Fred A. Rowley, Jr. delivered an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in a lawsuit arguing that a delay in sentencing violates a citizen’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Mr. Rowley represented Brandon Betterman, who waited 14 months in jail to be sentenced on a charge of bail-jumping in Montana. In 2011, Mr. Betterman was charged with domestic violence, then failed to appear in a Butte, Montana, court. The following April, Mr. Betterman was sentenced to five years in prison on the domestic violence charge and pled guilty to jumping bail. Mr. Betterman was not sentenced on the bail-jumping charge until June 2013.
Mr. Betterman appealed to the Montana Supreme Court arguing that the delay had kept him from meeting other rehabilitation requirements of his sentence and caused emotional distress. The court ruled against him.
Represented by Mr. Rowley, Mr. Betterman obtained review in the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Rowley argued that Mr. Betterman’s delay in sentencing violated his right to a speedy trial because the criminal proceeding continued through the sentencing. He also argued that this type of delay could have numerous ramifications, including interfering with a defendant’s ability to complete his or her rehabilitation.
Mr. Rowley, who specializes in complex litigation and appeals, became involved in this case as a result of his involvement in the MTO/UCLA Law School Supreme Court Clinic, which represents indigent criminal defendants in filing certiorari petitions. He is the clinic co-chair, along with Professor Stuart Banner.
Other Munger Tolles attorneys involved in the case include Daniel B. Levin, Benjamin J. Horwich, Thane Rehn, Eric C. Tung, Cathleen H. Hartge and John B. Major.