Congress stepped in last week to provide relief for air travelers from the harshest effects of the sequester, but criminal defendants facing trial can expect no such relief. In fact, after hearing oral arguments in January on whether a seven-year delay in going to trial in a Louisiana criminal case violated the right to a speedy trial, the Court last week said, in effect, "never mind." To be precise, the Court issued a "DIG" (decision improvidently granted) order in Boyer v. Louisiana was improvidently granted. Rory Little at SCOTUSBlog says that the DIG order may give a shred of hope to defendants looking for a standard somewhat speedier than seven years. He speculates that Justice Sotomayor’s DIG opinion almost reads as though it began as a majority, but then Justice Alito (who seemed favorably inclined on Boyer’s narrow point at oral argument) thought better of it:
Notably, perhaps, Justice Alito appears to carefully not take issue with Justice Sotomayor’s merits discussion – his opinion pointedly expresses no disagreement on the legal question presented. Justice Sotomayor closes by noting that “the Court’s silence … is particularly unfortunate. Conditions of this kind cannot persist without endangering constitutional rights.” But perhaps, for the betterment of justice in Louisiana, the more notable silence is Justice Alito’s (and that of his five Brethren) on the merits of the question that Justice Sotomayor thoroughly mines.