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MURRAY v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

June 24, 1993

JAMES MURRAY, a.k.a. JAMES HINES, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOUIS F. OBERDORFER

 In these consolidated cases, the plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, challenges the delay in the execution of a detainer lodged by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. Plaintiff's principal contention is that defendants violated his rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, D.C. Code § 24-701. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, and plaintiff has responded to the motion. In addition, plaintiff has filed an amended complaint, which will be treated as a motion for leave to amend, and defendants have filed a response. See Mem. & Order (March 24, 1993). For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion will be granted and plaintiff's motion will be denied.

 I.

 The following sequence of events emerges from the various filings in these cases. In August and November of 1977, plaintiff was charged in Massachusetts with a number of offenses, including armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. In November 1977, he escaped from the Suffolk County Jail in Massachusetts and remained at large until March 1978. At that time he was arrested in the District of Columbia on charges of burglary. Plaintiff was released on bail, but failed to appear for subsequent court appearances and again remained at large until June 1978, when he was arrested again in the District of Columbia on charges of armed robbery. This time, plaintiff was denied bail and held in preventive detention.

 In April 1980, plaintiff was tried and convicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia of armed robbery, unauthorized use of a vehicle and carrying a firearm without a license. He was sentenced in May 1980 to a term of incarceration of 15 years to life.

 In August 1981, plaintiff was tried and convicted in Superior Court on a Bail Reform Act violation. On August 26, 1981, he was sentenced to a term of 20 months to five years, consecutive to the prior 15-year-to-life sentence. Finally, in March 1982, plaintiff pleaded guilty in Superior Court to the burglary charge and was sentenced to time served.

 In October 1981, however, following plaintiff's sentencing on the Bail Reform Act violation, the District of Columbia released plaintiff to Massachusetts. In January 1982, he was found guilty on the Massachusetts escape charge and sentenced to 4-7 years' incarceration. In February 1982, plaintiff was convicted of armed robbery in Massachusetts and sentenced to 11-14 years, consecutive to the escape sentence.

 Plaintiff was then returned to the District of Columbia. He is currently incarcerated at Lorton, Virginia, and will begin to serve the sentences imposed by Massachusetts upon completion of his present period of incarceration on the District of Columbia convictions.

 II.

 Although plaintiff's numerous filings are diffuse and difficult to decipher, it appears that his principal claim in these cases is that the delay between his request for disposition of the Massachusetts charges and the ultimate trial of those charges violated his rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, codified at D.C. Code § 24-701. *fn1"

 The IAD is a compact among the states and the federal government establishing procedures by which one jurisdiction may obtain temporary custody of a prisoner incarcerated in another jurisdiction for trial on outstanding charges. Article III(a) of the IAD contains a "speedy trial" provision which states that a prisoner against whom a detainer has been lodged has a right to be brought to trial on the requesting jurisdiction's outstanding charges within 180 days of the prisoner's submission of a written request for final disposition. D.C. Code § 24-701, Art. III(a). This provision applies, however, only when such a prisoner "has entered upon a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution . . . ." Id.

 The principal purpose of the IAD is to ensure "that a sentenced prisoner who has entered into the life of the institution to which he has been committed for a term of imprisonment not have programs of treatment and rehabilitation obstructed by numerous absences in connection with successive proceedings related to pending charges in another jurisdiction." United States v. Roberts, 548 F.2d 665, 670-71 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 431 U.S. 920, 53 L. Ed. 2d 232, 97 S. Ct. 2188 (1977).

 In Civil Action No. 92-120, plaintiff seeks a declaration that the Massachusetts sentences are without force and effect as a result of the alleged IAD violation. In Civil Action No. 92-119, ...


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