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01/24/90 ERNEST E. TUCKER v. UNITED STATES

COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


January 24, 1990

ERNEST E. TUCKER, APPELLANT
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; Hon. Annice M. Wagner, Trial Judge.

Before Steadman and Schwelb, Associate Judges, and Mack,* Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Steadman

STEADMAN, Associate Judge: Appellant Tucker, convicted of second-degree murder and four other counts, seeks to have his convictions set aside and the indictment dismissed with prejudice on the ground of violation of his speedy trial rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD"), D.C. Code § 24-701 et seq. (1989). Finding the IAD inapplicable to this case, we affirm.

I

Appellant Tucker and his co-defendant Albert Smith were charged with various crimes arising from the strangling of Frank Cheek and the wounding by pistol of two others who had publicly voiced their suspicious that Cheek had been murdered. Found guilty of murder in the second degree, D.C. Code § 22-2403 (1989), attempted robbery, it. § 22-2902, two counts of assault with intent to kill while armed, it. §§ 22-501, -3202(a), and one count of obstruction of Justice, D.C. Code § 22-703 (repealed 1982), Tucker now appeals on the ground that the government failed to abide by the terms of Article III(a) of the IAD, *fn1 which reads in pertinent part as follows:

Whenever a person has entered upon a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution of a party State, and whenever during the continuance of the term of imprisonment there is pending in any other party State any untried indictment, information, or complaint on the basis of which a detainer has been lodged against the prisoner, he shall be brought to trial within one hundred and eighty days after he shall have caused to be delivered to the prosecuting officer and the appropriate court of the prosecuting officer's jurisdiction written notice of the place of his imprisonment and his rest for a final Disposition to be made of the indictment, information, or complaint. . . .

D.C. Code § 24-701 art. III(a) (1989) (emphasis added). Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motion to dismiss his indictment for noncompliance with the speedy trial provisions of the Act, and that his convictions should accordingly be reversed. *fn2

Tucker and Smith committed the murder and assaults in late September and early October of 1979. Arrest warrants for those crimes were issued in late October 1979. Additionally, another warrant, a bench warrant arising from appellant's failure to appear for arraignment in a different robbery case, was issued on October 17, 1979. On November 26, the two were arrested in South Carolina on unrelated armed robbery and kidnapping charges arising in that state. While processing them, the South Carolina authorities ran a National Crime Information Center computer check and learned of the existence of the outstanding District of Columbia warrants. On November 28 or 29, 1979, two District detectives, having been informed by South Carolina police that the two were in custody in Florence, South Carolina, went there to interview them. At the time, the South Carolina police requested copies of the arrest warrants for Tucker and Smith. In response to that request, "as a matter of professional courtesy," the District officers left copies of the warrants with a detective of the Florence police department.

Although the District detectives did not give the warrants for Tucker's arrest to anyone other than local police, the warrants were ultimately transferred from Florence County to the South Carolina Department of Corrections. The custodian of the appellant's inmate records testified that he would treat outstanding arrest warrants such as those in appellant's file as detainers. *fn3 However, in September 1980, an Assistant United States Attorney involved in the grand jury investigation of appellant's case *fn4 phoned both the clerk's office in the Florence, South Carolina courthouse and state prison authorities in Columbia, South Carolina, to ask whether there were any detainers on file for appellant. He was told by officials from both institutions that there were no detainers lodged against appellant from the District of Columbia.

Appellant asserts that the existence of the warrants in his South Carolina file satisfies the "detainer" requirement of the Act, a point which we expressly assumed without deciding in Smith, (supra) note 2, 470 A.2d at 319. Pointing to a series of letters which he contends constitutes a proper "request" under the Act, appellant further asserts that, unlike his co-defendant Smith, see (supra) note 2, he did substantially comply with the requirements of the IAD Because we conclude that the arrest warrants left with the Florence, South Carolina police were not detainers under the IAD, we need not reach the question of whether appellant substantially complied with the provisions of the Act.

II

Prosecutors file detainers to secure the availability for trial of individuals incarcerated in another jurisdiction. Although the IAD itself contains no definition of the term detainer, the Supreme Court has explained that a detainer "'is a notification filed with the institution in which a prisoner is serving a sentence, advising that he is wanted to face pending criminal charges in another jurisdiction.'" United States v. Mauro, 436 U.S. 340, 359, 56 L. Ed. 2d 329, 98 S. Ct. 1834 (1978) (citing Congressional reports). More specifically, the Court has stated that for IAD purposes, a detainer is "a request filed by a criminal Justice agency with the institution in which a prisoner is incarcerated, asking the institution either to hold the prisoner for the agency or to notify the agency when release of the prisoner is imminent." Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716, 719, 87 L. Ed. 2d 516, 105 S. Ct. 3401 (1985). See also Smith, (supra) note 2, 470 A.2d at 322 (Ferren, J., Concurring) ("a detainer requests the 'custodial' or 'sending' jurisdiction to notify the 'prosecuting' or 'receiving' jurisdiction before the inmate's release, and to hold him for delivery to the prosecuting/receiving jurisdiction") (citations omitted). Additionally, the IAD on its own terms pertains only to detainers based on an "untried indictment, information, or complaint." D.C. Code § 24-701 art. III(a) (1989).

Under this definition, an arrest warrant will serve as a detainer within the purview of the IAD if: 1) it is based on an untried information, indictment, or complaint; 2) it is filed by a criminal Justice agency; 3) it is filed directly with the facility where a prisoner is incarcerated; 4) it notifies prison officials that a prisoner is wanted to face pending charges; and 5) it asks the institution where the prisoner is incarcerated either to hold the prisoner at the Conclusion the prisoner's sentence, or to notify agency officials when the prisoner's release is imminent. Where all five of these criteria are satisfied, an arrest warrant is plainly "lodged" as a detainer, and the provisions of the IAD come into play. *fn5

In this case, however, the warrants for appellant's arrest did not meet at least two of these criteria--they were not filed with prison officials by District of Columbia officials, and they were not accompanied by a request to hold appellant or provide notification of his impending release. *fn6 It is therefore unclear whether the warrants here were lodged as detainers. *fn7 To resolve the question, we employ the "functional analysis" approach developed by Judge Ferren in his Smith concurrence. This requires us to focus on two issues: (1) whether District of Columbia officials intended the warrant to serve as a detainer; and (2) whether the appellant suffered any prejudice during his incarceration in South Carolina *fn8 on account of the warrant. Smith, (supra) note 2, 470 A.2d at 322 (Ferren, J., Concurring).

A Intent

The record in this case establishes that District officials did not intend to lodge a detainer against appellant when they left two arrest warrants with Florence, South Carolina police. For one, the warrants for appellant's arrest were left with the local police at the request of South Carolina, not District, officials, and as a matter of courtesy. Additionally, unlike an ordinary detainer, the warrants were given to police investigating a crime, and not correctional officials. Appellant was not even tried and sentenced on the South Carolina charges for another five months; at that time, South Carolina officials apparently placed the warrants in appellant's prison files on their own initiative. Nor did either warrant, "unlike a typical detainer," request that "South Carolina notify the District of Columbia before releasing appellant or hold him for the District upon completion of his sentence." Smith, (supra) note 2, 470 A.2d at 322 (Ferren, J., Concurring). *fn9 We accordingly affirm the trial court's finding that "it does not appear this was an attempt to lodge what could be construed as a detainer against the defendant."

B. Prejudice

Although District officials did not intend to file a detainer against appellant, South Carolina prison officials nevertheless gained notice of the charges pending in the District of Columbia through the acts of District police officers. As a result, under a functional analysis of the arrest warrants, we must consider whether appellant suffered any prejudice as a result of the presence of arrest warrants in his prison file. See Smith, (supra) note 2, 470 A.2d at 322 (Ferren, J., Concurring) ("if the District did not intend to file a detainer, but appellant suffered the ill effects associated with detainers as a result of governmental conduct, then the warrant would have functioned as a detainer, and the IAD accordingly should apply").

The IAD aims to protect prisoners both from harassment resulting from the filing of detainers based on groundless charges, id. at 323 (Ferren, J., Concurring), and from interference with the prisoner's rehabilitation program because of outstanding charges in another state. See L. ABRAMSON, CRIMINAL DETAINERS 29-34 (1979) (discussing the detrimental effects of detainers on treatment of prisoners); see also Mauro, supra, 340 U.S. at 359 (same). In this case, appellant suffered neither form of prejudice. His conviction of the offenses for which the warrants were issued demonstrates that the charges were well-founded. Moreover, appellant spent only three months in prison in South Carolina between his sentencing there and his removal to the District of Columbia to face the charges against him in this jurisdiction. Despite appellant's vague assertion that the outstanding warrant affected his eligibility for rehabilitative opportunities, the records of the South Carolina Department of Corrections did not indicate that the warrants in any way affected appellant's security classification in prison, the treatment program devised for him, or his eligibility for parole. See (supra) note 3.

Although the warrants for appellant's arrest provided South Carolina prison officials with notice of the District of Columbia charges pending against him, mere notice of pending criminal charges is insufficient to invoke the provisions of the IAD. See United States v. Bamman, 737 F.2d 413, 415-16 (4th Cir. 1984) (the fact that state authorities came to have knowledge of a criminal investigation by another jurisdiction is not the "functional equivalent" of a detainer), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1110, 83 L. Ed. 2d 783, 105 S. Ct. 789 (1985); State v. Bronkema, 109 Idaho 211, , 706 P.2d 100, 104 (Idaho Ct. App. 1985) (Washington state correctional officials' knowledge of pending charges in Idaho "cannot be said to constitute a 'detainer'"). In the absence of intent to lodge a detainer, appellant must show that the existence of the warrant in his files prejudiced him in the ways the IAD seeks to prevent. Smith, (supra) note 2, 470 A.2d at 322 (Ferren, J., Concurring). No such showing was made here.

Accordingly, we conclude that the warrants left with local South Carolina police by District detectives were not detainers within the meaning of the IAD, and reject appellant's contentions that the government failed to meet its obligations under D.C. Code § 24-701. *fn10


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