The Jackson man facing federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges probably won’t go before a jury until 2021.
According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming, Bryan Jones, who originally was to have gone on trial last month, is now scheduled to be tried Jan. 19, more than a year after his arrest.
According to court files: “The court finds an ends-of-justice continuance is warranted in this case for two reasons: (1) the relative complexity of the matter requires more time for counsel to effectively prepare, and (2) the current coronavirus pandemic warrants a continuance because the court currently cannot safely assemble the participants for a jury trial.”
The trial has been set for nine days at the Federal Building in Casper.
A grand jury indicted Jones and three co-defendants in January for conspiracy to distribute and manufacture a metric ton of marijuana, and conspiracy to launder money.
Jones was arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration near his Teton County home in December after a five-year investigation into what federal officials called a large drug trafficking organization.
In the order, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said a continuance is justified.
“There is an extensive amount of discovery here because the government has been investigating the matter for several years, including thousands of pages of records, recorded phone calls, hours of video surveillance, GPS tracker data from multiple vehicles, etc.,” Skavdahl wrote. “While the case has not been declared complex, the amount of discovery renders the case significantly more complicated and involved than the average criminal case, making it unreasonable to expect counsel to be ready for trial in the time limits required under the Speedy Trial Act.”
Weighing everyone’s rights, Skavdahl said, it could be unfair to rush the trial.
“Requiring the defendants to proceed to trial without adequate time to investigate the case and prepare the defense would result in a miscarriage of justice,” the order states.
Skavdahl said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic the court’s top priority “in this time of emergency is protecting the health and safety of the litigants, the public and the practicing bar.”
The judge said continuing the case “is necessary to protect all involved.”
Jones has pleaded not guilty to the charges.