State v. Defoe. The Court overruled State v. Rorie and held that trial courts have the power to declare a case non-capital where rule 24 is not complied with.
Rule 24 requires:
1) Within 10 days of indictment on a capital charge for the prosecutor to apply for a rule 24 hearing to be held to announce whether or not the case will be tried capitally; and
2) Within 45 days of that notice, to hold such a hearing.
In this case, there had been no Rule 24 hearing in nearly 4 years. The court found that, while a trial court had discretion to declare a case non-capital, non-compliance alone is not enough. The defendant must show that he was prejudiced in some way by the failure to hold a rule 24. Otherwise, the trial court can issue other, less sever sanction.
The Rub: New rule- if no timely rule 24 is held, you can file a motion to strike the death penalty and, if you can show prejudice, you might just win.