- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - On the eve of his 2012 trial on burglary and fleeing charges, Patrick W. Darcy’s family hired a private attorney to replace the public defender who had handled the case. The private attorney sought to delay the trial, but a co-defendant wouldn’t go along.

Breckinridge Circuit Judge Robert A. Miller sided with the co-defendant and let the public defender continue representing Darcy, 37, at trial - a mistake in this case, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The justices ruled that when two people are scheduled to be tried together for a crime, one person’s right to a delay can outweigh the right to a speedy trial of a co-defendant.

In this case, Chief Justice John D. Minton wrote for a unanimous court, Miller improperly considered the speedy trial rights of the co-defendant in the case, 35-year-old Randy Quinton McCleery, when looking at whether to continue the trial.

Minton overturned Darcy’s conviction and 25-year sentence and ordered a new trial. The ruling did not affect McCleery’s conviction and sentence.

“Without doubting the competency and abilities of Darcy’s trial attorney, we do note that the trial court’s denial of his continuance directly caused Darcy to be unable to be represented by his counsel of choice at trial,” Minton wrote.

The case posed a conflict of two rights granted to defendants - the right to be represented by an attorney of a person’s choosing against the right to a speedy trial after charges have been filed.

The two men were convicted of breaking into a home near Hardinsburg by backing up a truck to the back porch of the house, then fleeing from the police before being caught. Police say they found several items missing from the house inside the truck when the chase ended.

Darcy, currently being held in Green River Correctional Complex in western Kentucky, and McCleery, serving his sentence at Northpoint Training Center in Burgin, were scheduled for a joint trial on May 7, 2012 - about four months after being charged. Darcy’s family hired a private attorney 12 days before the trial date and that lawyer asked for a continuance to get up to speed on the case.

Miller, though, explained that McCleery invoked his right to be tried within 180 days of being charged and that no trial date suitable to both sides could be found that also fell within the 180 days required by the speedy trial laws.

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Follow Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP

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