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Swanigan v. United States

July 15, 2004

MICHAEL SWANIGAN, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (No. F-6259-01). (Hon. Harold Cushenberry, Jr., Trial Judge).

Before Steadman, Schwelb and Glickman, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glickman, Associate Judge

Submitted February 26, 2004

While he was serving a prison sentence in Virginia, appellant Michael Swanigan made a request under Article III of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD) for a final disposition of charges that were pending against him in Superior Court of the District of Columbia. When, despite his request, Swanigan was not brought to trial within the 180-day period specified by the IAD, he moved to dismiss his indictment in this jurisdiction with prejudice. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that the IAD did not apply to Swanigan's case because he had finished serving his sentence in Virginia before he was returned to the District of Columbia for trial. The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether that ruling was correct.

We affirm the trial court's decision. The IAD did not require that Swanigan be brought to trial in the District of Columbia within 180 days of his request, we hold, because Swanigan finished serving his Virginia prison sentence before the 180-day period expired.

I.

On the afternoon of October 2, 2001, Michael Swanigan and his co-defendant Robert Bailey fled in a station wagon from the scene of an armed robbery at a pawn shop in Alexandria, Virginia. As Swanigan drove the station wagon into the District of Columbia, Bailey leaned out of the passenger side window and fired several gunshots at police officers pursuing them. The chase ended when Swanigan ran a red light and collided with another vehicle, seriously injuring its occupant. Swanigan and Bailey were arrested at the site of the crash.

Swanigan was held in the D.C. Jail until October 17, 2001, at which time he was transferred to the Alexandria City Jail. There he remained until September 25, 2002, serving a one-year sentence on the Virginia charges of acting as an accessory after the fact and eluding a police officer in connection with the pawn shop robbery.

In the meantime, Swanigan was charged by complaint in District of Columbia Superior Court with the offense of assault on a police officer. Because he was incarcerated in Virginia, Swanigan did not appear for his October 26, 2001, preliminary hearing, and the Superior Court issued a bench warrant with a $1,000 cash bond "to serve as a detainer" against him at the Alexandria jail.

Five months passed. On March 29, 2002, Swanigan sent a letter asking the warden of the Alexandria City Jail to request that he be returned to the District of Columbia pursuant to the IAD to face the charges pending against him there. The Sheriff's Office in Alexandria transmitted Swanigan's request to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Superior Court Clerk's Office by certified mail on or about April 11, 2002. A few days later, Swanigan filed a motion in Superior Court to modify his bond status to personal recognizance because the District of Columbia detainer rendered him ineligible to participate in an in-patient drug treatment program in Virginia. The government opposed this motion and it was denied.

On June 19, 2002, a seven-count indictment was filed in Superior Court charging Swanigan with aggravated assault while armed, two counts of assault on a police officer with a dangerous weapon, and related firearms offenses. Thereafter, on July 31, 2002, the United States Attorney's Office served a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum on the warden of the Alexandria City Jail, asking that Swanigan be delivered to the District of Columbia for an arraignment on September 12, 2002. The writ was not honored, however, and Swanigan remained in the Alexandria jail through*fn1 September 24, 2002, the date on which his Virginia sentence terminated. The next day Swanigan was transferred to the District of Columbia Jail pursuant to the October 26, 2001, bench warrant that had been lodged as a detainer.

Swanigan was arraigned in Superior Court on September 26, 2002. At a proceeding the following day, his counsel asked the court to honor Swanigan's right under the IAD to be tried within 180 days after the United States Attorney's Office received his IAD demand letter - that is, approximately speaking, within 180 days of April 11, 2002, or no later than October 8, 2002. The*fn2 prosecutor opposed setting trial that soon and argued that the expedited trial requirements of the IAD did not apply because Swanigan had been brought to the District of Columbia at the end of his Virginia sentence and not pursuant to the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. Agreeing with the prosecutor, the trial court scheduled trial for December 3, 2002.

On October 22, 2002, Swanigan moved to dismiss his indictment with prejudice because the government had failed to bring him to trial within the 180-day time frame specified by the IAD. The court denied the motion, ruling that even though Swanigan had made a timely Article III demand, "he was not returned to the District of Columbia pursuant to that demand because he had already completed his [Virginia] sentence and therefore his IAD rights were not implicated." Reserving his right to challenge that ruling in an appeal to this ...


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