The right of every criminal defendant to a speedy trial is deeply entrenched in our legal heritage and is specifically included in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. However, though the guarantee of a speedy trial is quite explicit, the courts generally have been confused as to the precise extent of this right. Indeed, the Supreme Court did not expressly recognize the right as fundamental until 1967, and until 1972 had provided no guidelines for determining whether a defendant had been denied the right to a speedy trial. The Court at that time refused to set specific time periods within which the accused must be tried, stating "such a result would require this Court to engage in legislative or rulemaking activity. . .Thus, even with some clarification by the Supreme Court, each court basically was left to use its own discretion, absent specific legislation to the contrary, in determining whether a defendant had been given a speedy trial.

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