Appellate court overturns 2012 rape conviction due to backlog

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kitsap courthouseSEATTLE — The rape and assault convictions of a Port Orchard man have been overturned after it was determined his rights to a speedy trial had been violated, the Kitsap Sun reported.

The Sun reported that in July 2012 Joseph James Martin Jr. was found guilty of first-degree rape, second-degree assault, first-degree burglary, violation of a court order and felony unlawful imprisonment. He was sentenced to 28 1/2 years.

Martin’s appeal was based the Kitsap court’s deferment of his trial four times; the court said it had a lack of judges to hear the case, the paper reported.

Martin was arrested in December 2011 and his first trial was slated to begin Feb. 29, 2012. The trial was then continued four times in the next four months. The Sun said that Martin’s time for trial expired on May 24, and the trial began June 26.

A court is required to set a trial date within 60 days of a defendant’s arraignment. The court is allowed to continue a trial “for good cause,” but the Sun reported that court officials “did not properly document the need to defer the trial,” the three appellant judges ruled.

The Appeals Court reversed the jury’s conviction and dismissed the case with prejudice, which means that Martin cannot be charged again in the same case.

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