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A judge has ordered a man’s sex assault charge dropped for violation of his right to a speedy trial.

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Gregory Todd ordered a single count of felony sexual assault against Chad Everett Meeks dismissed on grounds his Sixth Amendment rights were violated.

The judge found that most of the delay in Meeks’ case was due to routine scheduling problems, but that the responsibility for ensuring a speedy trial ultimately rested with prosecutors.

“The State bears the burden of prosecution, and Meeks was under no obligation to ensure diligent prosecution by the State or help the State avoid dismissal,” the ruling read.

Meeks has been jailed since Aug. 25, 2017, or more than 500 days, on charges he assaulted an elementary school student.

Prosecutors had argued the delay was Meeks’ fault because he failed to provide discovery to the state, and later filed a motion to exclude certain evidence that took time to resolve.

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But Meeks never waived his right to a speedy trial, the judge found. 

Meeks remains in jail on separate charges.

Calls to defense attorney Gregory Paskell and prosecutor Brett Linneweber were not immediately returned Tuesday. 

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.