United States v. Mauro,
Annotate this Case
436 U.S. 340 (1978)
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U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Mauro, 436 U.S. 340 (1978)
United States v. Mauro
Argued February 27, 1978
Decided May 23, 1978*
436 U.S. 340
After respondents in No. 76-1596, who at the time were serving state sentences in New York, were indicted on federal charges in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, that court issued writs of habeas corpus ad prosequendum directing the state prison wardens to produce respondents in court. Subsequently, following their arraignments, respondents were retained in federal custody in New York City, but after trial dates had been set, they were returned to state prison. Respondents then moved for dismissal of their indictments on the ground that the United States, by returning them to state custody without first trying them on the federal charges, violated Art IV(e) of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (Agreement), which requires the dismissal of an indictment against a prisoner who is obtained by a receiving State ("State" being defined by Art. II(a) to include the United States) if he is returned to his original place of imprisonment without first being tried on the indictment underlying the detainer and request by which custody of the prisoner was secured. The District Court granted the motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. In No. 77-52, after being arrested in Illinois on federal charges and being turned over to Illinois authorities for extradition to Massachusetts on unrelated state charges, respondent requested a speedy trial on the federal charges. After he was transferred to Massachusetts, federal officials lodged a detainer against him with state prison authorities. Subsequently, following his conviction on the state charges, respondent was indicted on the federal charges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and was produced from Massachusetts for arraignment before that court pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. Thereafter, at his own request respondent was returned to the Massachusetts prison to await the federal trial, which was subsequently postponed several times. When the Government moved to postpone the trial for the third time, respondent moved for dismissal of the indictment on the ground that he had been denied his right to a
speedy trial, alleging that the detainer was causing him to be denied certain privileges at the state prison. Respondent's motion was denied, and the Government secured his presence for trial from the state prison by means of a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. At the beginning of his trial, respondent again moved unsuccessfully for dismissal of the indictment on speedy trial grounds, and thereafter was convicted. On appeal, he argued that his indictment should have been dismissed because, inter alia, he was not tried within 120 days of his initial arrival in the Southern District of New York in violation of Art. IV(c) of the Agreement. The Court of Appeals agreed that Art. IV(c) had been violated and reversed and remanded for dismissal of the indictment as required by Art. V(c), holding that the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum utilized to bring respondent to federal court was a "written request for temporary custody" within the meaning of Art. IV(a) of the Agreement required to be filed by the receiving State with the sending State in order to obtain temporary custody of a prisoner.
1. As indicated by the statute itself as well as its legislative history, the United States is a party to the Agreement as both a sending and a receiving State, and the fact that the United States already had the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum as a means of obtaining prisoners at the time the Agreement was enacted does not show that Congress could not have intended to join the United States as a receiving State. Pp. 436 U. S. 353-356.
2. A writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum issued by a federal court to state authorities, directing the production of a state prisoner for trial on federal criminal charges, is not a detainer within the meaning of the Agreement, and thus does not trigger the application of the Agreement. Therefore, because in No. 76-1596 the Government never filed a detainer against respondents, the Agreement never became applicable so as to bind the Government to its provisions, and the indictments should not have been dismissed. Pp. 436 U. S. 357-361.
(a) The role and functioning of the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum to secure the presence, for purposes of trial, of defendants in federal criminal cases, including defendants then in state custody, are rooted in history and bear little resemblance to the typical detainer that activates the Agreement. Unlike such a writ issued by a federal district court, a detainer may be lodged against a prisoner on the initiative of a prosecutor or law enforcement officer, and, rather than requiring the prisoner's immediate presence, as does such a writ, merely puts the officials of the prison in which the prisoner is incarcerated on notice that he is wanted in another jurisdiction for trial, further action being
necessary by the receiving State in order to obtain the prisoner. Pp. 436 U. S. 357-359.
(b) The concerns expressed by the drafters of the Agreement and by the Congress that enacted it demonstrate that a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum was not intended to be included within the definition of "detainer" as used in the Agreement. Pp. 436 U. S. 359-361.
3. The United States is bound by the Agreement when it activates its provisions by filing a detainer against a state prisoner and then obtains his custody by means of a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, and hence. in No. 77-52. the indictment was properly dismissed because the Government violated Art. IV(c) by not trying respondent within 120 days of his arrival in federal court. Pp. 436 U. S. 361-365.
(a) A writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum constitutes a "written request for temporary custody" within the meaning of Art. IV(a) of the Agreement. Because, at the point when a detainer is lodged, the policies underlying the Agreement to encourage the expeditious disposition of charges against a prisoner subject to a detainer and to provide cooperative procedures among member States to facilitate such disposition are fully implicated, there is no reason to give an unduly restrictive meaning to the term "written request for temporary custody." Whether the Government presents the prison authorities in the sending State with a piece of paper labeled "request for temporary custody" or with a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum demanding the prisoner's presence in federal court, the United States is able to obtain temporary custody of the prisoner, and the fact that the prisoner is brought before the court pursuant to such a writ in no way reduces the need for prompt disposition of the charges underlying the detainer. Pp. 436 U. S. 361-364.
(b) The failure of the respondent in No. 77-52 to invoke the Agreement in specific terms in his speedy trial motions before the District Court did not result in a waiver of his claim that the Government violated Art. IV(c), since the record shows that from the time he as arrested respondent persistently requested that he be given a speedy trial, such requests being sufficient to put the Government and the District Court on notice of the substance of his claim. Pp. 436 U. S. 364-365.
No. 76-1596, 544 F.2d 588, reversed and remanded; No. 77-52, 550 F.2d 732, affirmed.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in No. 76-1596 and dissenting in No. 77-52, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 436 U. S. 365.