Appeal from the 506th Judicial District Waller County, Texas
Trial Court Case Nos. 11-01-13704 & 11-01-13705
consists of Justices Lloyd, Kelly, and Hightower.
Russell Lloyd Justice
Dominique Dontae Lasker appeals his two convictions for
murder. In two points of error, appellant contends that the
trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss his cases
because the State failed to bring him to trial within (1) 180
days after he triggered Article III of the Interstate
Agreement on Detainers Act ("IADA" or "the
Act") and (2) 120 days after he was received in Waller
County as required by Article IV of the IADA. Because the
trial court erred in denying appellant's motion to
dismiss, we reverse the trial court's judgments and
remand the causes to the trial court with instructions to
dismiss the indictments with prejudice.
January 27, 2011, appellant was indicted by a Waller County
grand jury for capital murder (for two murders committed
during the same criminal transaction) and two counts of
murder alleged to have been committed on March 11, 2010. At
the time of the indictments, appellant was in the custody of
federal correctional authorities in the Southern District of
California, charged with "armed bank robbery and aiding
and abetting" (Count 1) and "use and carrying of a
firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, aiding
and abetting" (Count 2).
pleaded guilty to both federal counts and, on December 16,
2011, he was convicted and sentenced to 37 months on Count 1
and 84 months on Count 2, with the sentences to run
consecutively, for a total sentence of 121 months. Following
his convictions, appellant was incarcerated at the Federal
Correctional Complex in Victorville, California.
County subsequently filed detainers against appellant. In July
2012, appellant submitted his first request for final
disposition of the Waller County indictments to the Waller
County District Clerk and Waller County Criminal District
Attorney ("first request"). The request included
documents entitled "Notice and Demand to District
Attorney/Prosecutor for Trial or Disposition of Warrants,
Informations, Detainers, or Indictments by Federal
Prisoner" and "Notice of Place of Imprisonment and
Request for Speedy Trial and Final Disposition." The
Waller County District Attorney's Office received
appellant's request on July 19, 2012. On December 13,
2012, appellant filed a pro se motion to dismiss the Waller
County indictments against him for violation of the IADA.
January 2, 2013, the State of Texas requested temporary
custody of appellant from the federal prison authorities in
California. Federal authorities acknowledged receipt of the
State's request on January 31, 2013.
undisputed that, on February 8, 2013, the Waller County
Criminal District Attorney's Office received
appellant's second request for final disposition of the
indictments, this time sent by the federal correctional
complex warden via registered mail, return receipt requested
("second request"). The second request included
documents entitled "IAD-Placement of Imprisonment,"
"IAD-Certificate of Inmate Status," and
"IAD-Offer to Deliver Temporary Custody." On April
10, 2013, appellant filed a second pro se motion to dismiss
the indictments against him for violation of the IADA.
was returned to Waller County on May 24, 2013. On June 4,
2013, appellant first appeared in Waller County district
court and the trial court appointed counsel to represent him.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the case was not reset. The
court merely instructed that appellant be returned to
custody. That same day, the trial court signed an order
appointing the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases to
represent appellant. Two days later, the trial court
appointed Frank Blazek to represent appellant.
August 30, 2013, the State filed its first motion for
continuance. In its motion, the State indicated its intent
seek the death penalty.
September 9, 2013, appellant filed his third motion to
dismiss the indictments, contending that the cases should be
dismissed under the IADA and his federal constitutional right
to a speedy trial. That same day, the trial court heard
appellant's motion to dismiss and the State's motion
for continuance. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial
court granted the State's motion:
Well, I think I owe it to you for clarity right now to give
you the grounds that as a preliminary ruling. I am using
Article 4 of IADA to grant the State's Request for the
Continuance because I do find good grounds. And that good
grounds being the delay in getting Mr. Lasker back here; the
seriousness of the charges against him; the availability of
him being provided adequate and proper counsel; the
complexity that has been represented to me of this case. And
for all those reasons and there may well be further reasons
upon study of this, I do find we have the good grounds that
would be found under Article 4 for the Continuance.
trial court stated that it would take appellant's motion
to dismiss under advisement. Later that day, the trial court
signed a scheduling order setting November 4, 2013 to hear
motions and pleas and a jury trial on February 24, 2014.
October 30, 2013, appellant filed his first amended motion to
dismiss. In the motion, appellant cited both his initial
Article III request received on July 19, 2012, and his second
Article III request received on February 8, 2013, asserting
that 180 days had passed since receipt of both requests.
Appellant also argued that he had not sought any delay in the
cases, and that the trial court had not found that good cause
existed for any delay prior to the expiration of 180 days.
November 4, 2013 hearing, the parties discussed the filing of
appellant's first amended motion to dismiss, agreed to
submit factual stipulations to the trial court, and discussed
the scheduling of pretrial matters. Following the hearing,
the trial court entered a new scheduling order setting
pretrial hearings but leaving the February 24, 2014 jury
trial setting in place.
hearing held on February 11, 2014, the parties argued
appellant's first amended motion to dismiss and agreed to
numerous stipulations regarding the facts and timeline of
events relevant to appellant's motion. The hearing
concluded and the February 24, 2014 jury trial setting
remained in place.
did not occur on February 24, 2014. On April 4, 2014, the
trial court issued a new scheduling order setting the case
for a preferential jury trial setting on March 30, 2015.
2, 2014, the trial court signed an order denying
appellant's motion to dismiss for violations of the IADA
with the handwritten notation "although ruled on March
11, 2014." On July 11, 2014, appellant's trial
counsel sent a letter to the trial court, with a copy to the
State, forwarding appellant's motion to dismiss. The
letter and motion stated that appellant was seeking dismissal
of the indictments against him based on violations of both
the 120-day and 180-day periods under the IADA. On July 15,
2014, the trial court signed an order denying appellant's
motion to dismiss.
did not occur on March 30, 2015. The case was reset three
more times over the next two and a half years. The record
does not reflect that either party ...