Court Clears Man Who Waited 7 Years for Trial on Pot Charges

It was after his third mental competency test, all of which he passed, that Joseph Tigano started getting desperate. After all, by that point he had spent six years locked inside the Niagara County, N.Y., jail, awaiting trial on a charge of growing pot. It would be another year before the trial began.

The wheels of justice are known for turning slowly, but they moved so sluggishly in Mr. Tigano’s case that on Tuesday, the United States Appeals Court for the Second Circuit issued a scathing opinion dismissing his indictment. In the opinion, the court said the case was the most egregious trial delay it had ever seen, implicating everyone whom Mr. Tigano had come in contact with: judges, lawyers, prosecutors, United States marshals, even a court reporter.

“No single, extraordinary factor caused the cumulative seven years of pretrial delay,” the appellate judges wrote. “Instead, the outcome was the result of countless small choices and neglects.”

The court released Mr. Tigano in November, two years into a 20-year sentence and nine years after his arrest. But the opinion issued Tuesday was the first detailed account of why he had been freed.

Mr. Tigano’s listless prosecution…

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