A Vermont man's freedom from jail could be short-lived after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a state ordinarily is not responsible for a public defender's delays in bringing a criminal case to trial.
The court by a 7-2 vote reversed a state Supreme Court decision in favor of Michael Brillon, whose conviction for assaulting his girlfriend was overturned. The state court said Brillon's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated after he was jailed for three years and went through six defense attorneys before his trial.
Hours after Monday's decision, Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage filed the paperwork with the Vermont District Court to have Brillon re-arrested. He was released in April after his 12- to 20-year sentence was cut short by the state court's decision.
"It creates a sense that someone gaming the system, like he was, isn't going to be able to get away with it," Marthage said Monday of the Supreme Court ruling. "It puts some faith back into the system."
Marthage said she didn't know how the state court that will consider her motion would rule because the case was so unusual.
The Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said taxpayers may foot the bill for a public defender, but the lawyer represents his client. It sent the case back to the Vermont Supreme Court for reconsideration.