Yesterday brought news that Marcus Sales appeared with his lawyer in Syracuse City Court, and his case was adjourned to February. February? What about swift justice, a speedy trial? What does this all mean?!?
Bear with me, this takes a short lesson in criminal procedure. Currently, Sales has pending against him a felony complaint, a few misdemeanor informations, and traffic tickets. The felony is the most serious. A felony complaint is a written sworn document alleging a defendant has committed a felony. The purpose of this document is to bring the defendant to court, apprise him of the crime, and have the court determine if there should be bail placed on him and, if bail is set, whether the defendant should be held in jail (in lieu of bail being posted) pending action by a Grand Jury. You see, a "local criminal court" such as Syracuse City Court, has very limited jurisdiction when it comes to felonies. Felonies ultimately must be prosecuted in a superior court (i.e. County Court or Supreme Court) upon a felony indictment. That's where the Grand Jury comes in. The prosecutor must present evidence to the GJ, and then the GJ votes on whether or not to indict the defendant. It is that indictment that becomes the formal charge(s) upon which the prosecution may proceed to trial.
But, at this point, Sales' charges are still pending in City Court. The Grand Jury hasn't heard his case or indicted him. And since no bail was set (Sales was released to a pre-trial release program) there was no need to determine if there was enough evidence to hold him in jail pending GJ action. He's sort of in a legal limbo right now.
But February. Why February? Good question. From a court standpoint, City Court has no need for Sales to keep coming to court, since that court has little to no power to do anything with his case at this point. There's also constitutional and statutory speedy trial requirements that must be met in a prosecution of the case. Generally, the prosecution has six months from the filing of a felony complaint to have the case indicted. That time can be waived or extended due to delay not caused by the prosecution. Here, it seems like Sales' lawyer may have waived that time, as it seems (according to the media reports I'm seeing) that his lawyer was the one who asked for the adjournment. That could just be the way it's done in Onondaga County, as a showing of good faith to the prosecution.
So, during the time between now and February, a number of things could happen. Sales' lawyer and the DA could negotiate a plea and resolve the case. The DA could present the case to the Grand Jury, obtain an indictment, and then the case would be transferred to Onondaga County Court for formal arraignment on the new indictment, motions, and plea/trial if necessary. However, if nothing happens and the February court date comes for City Court, then the case might be dismissed for speedy trial violations. This is no certainty, again, for if the attorney waived speedy trial that could leave us right back where we are now.
But in all likelihood, especially with a case where it's getting media attention, there will be some sort of action between now and February. I would imagine some sort of negotiations and dealmaking. That would be in everyone's best interests.
While Marcus Sales remains innocent until proven guilty, through this whole procedure, the University and surely Doug Marrone will look at things through glasses other than a defense attorney. There's the integrity of the educational and athletic realms that need to be protected, and with reports from Colorado that yet another SU football player is in trouble, Marrone I imagine will be quick to pull the trigger and issue suspensions, if not dismissing them from the team altogether. Though the legal process may take months to get worked out, I expect Marrone to hand out that swift justice. I'd be shocked to see Marcus Sales suit up for the Orange this season.
Stay tuned to Orange::44 for further updates/analysis on this situation as they become available.