BUENA VISTA, Colorado - A man wrongfully convicted of being a pedophile and sentenced to 300 years for sexually assaulting six children has been freed.
Michael McFadden, 46, was released on Tuesday after the Colorado Court of Appeals decided his right to a speedy trial had been violated. McFadden’s trial, which was scheduled for 2015, was delayed past the statutory requirements and courts ruled that he could not be retried.
During the trial McFadden’s lawyer sought to add provisions in the juror questionnaire which delayed the trial. An appeals court held in June 2017 that the delay could not be attributed to McFadden and that his case would not be brought to trail again. In February, the state Supreme Court decided not to hear the appeal which effectively allowed the lower court's ruling.
Without this additional language in the jury questionnaire, "the trial would have gone forward as originally scheduled. However, under the unique circumstances of this case, we cannot attribute the delay to [McFadden]," Judge Jerry N. Jones wrote in the ruling. "The prosecutor expressly agreed to the jury questionnaire as drafted by defense counsel, and the trial court accepted it as tendered," Jones added.
The right to a speedy trial is a right guaranteed to everyone.
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution says:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
McFadden was released from custody and will not have to register as a sex offender because his convictions were vacated by the appeals court.
Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein, told The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel he could not retry McFadden because that's the law.
While the prosecutors are upset with the ruling, the Appeals Court followed the law, which protects both the innocent and those who may be guilty. The lawyers on both sides, and the trial judge, knew the rules. That those rules weren't followed strictly is exactly the reason there are appeals court.