- Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal magistrate judge has recommended that a Drew County man serving a 65-year sentence for methamphetamine convictions be given a new trial.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1Xcff8g ) reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray said Tuesday that the trial judge in 45-year-old James Daniels Jr.’s case fast-tracked the trial at the expense of Daniels’ right to counsel of his choice.

Daniels was arrested in 2010 and convicted of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver and possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

The newspaper reports that the trial judge announced at Daniels arraignment that he was “fast-tracking” the case out of concern for Daniels’ being “unnecessarily” detained before trial. The trial was set to be held 62 days after Daniels’ initial appearance in court.

Ray criticized the trial judge for suggesting that the prosecutor use the fast-track trial date “as leverage” to get Daniels to accept a suggest plea agreement.

“While there is much that commends ‘swift justice,’ the trial court’s proposal to use a plea bargain ‘to be done with the case in two minutes’ was far too long on swiftness and far too short on justice, especially given the seriousness of the charges against Daniels, who was a ‘habitual offender’ and faced a possible life sentence if convicted,” Ray wrote.

He also cited that Daniels had asked to hire an attorney of his choosing, but the trial judge wouldn’t allow the hiring of an attorney to postpone the trial so the attorney would have time to prepare.

According to Ray, the trial judge “provided no plausible justification” for scheduling Daniels’ trial so quickly.

U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes will determine whether Daniels will receive a new trial.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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