STATE'S PETITION FOR DISCRETIONARY REVIEW FROM THE FIRST
COURT OF APPEALS WALLER COUNTY
J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Court refuses the State's petition for discretionary
review in this case. I believe the State has raised important
issues with respect to the proper application of the
Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act that would be helpful
to the jurisprudence for this Court to resolve. Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. art. 51.14 (hereinafter, "IADA"). But
even if I thought the State's petition failed to raise
issues worthy of our attention, I would grant discretionary
review on our own motion, as we are authorized to do under
Rules 66.1 and 67.1 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
See Tex. R. App. P. 66.1 & 67.1 (authorizing
this Court to grant discretionary review on its own
initiative at any time before the court of appeals'
mandate issues). Because the Court does not at least do that,
I respectfully dissent.
Legislature enacted the IADA in 1975 as part of a compact
among the federal government and the various states by which
an inmate incarcerated in one member state may demand trial
in another member state that has lodged a detainer against
him within a certain prescribed period of time. "The
Agreement is a congressionally sanctioned interstate compact
within the Compact Clause, U.S.Const., Art. I, § 10, cl.
3, and thus is a federal law subject to federal
construction." Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716,
719 (1985) (citing Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433,
438-42 (1981)). The court of appeals in this case held that
the trial court erred in failing to grant Appellant relief
under the IADA, because the State did not try him within the
prescribed period, and remanded the causes to the trial court
for dismissal. Lasker v. State, 577 S.W.3d 583, 595
(Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2019).
III of the IADA sets out a mechanism by which the inmate,
upon learning that a detainer has been imposed, may force the
prosecuting authority in another state that has filed charges
against him to bring him to that state and try him on those
charges. When a detainer has been lodged, the
corrections official where the inmate is incarcerated has an
obligation to promptly inform him of the detainer and of his
right to request "final disposition" of the charges
giving rise to the detainer. Article III(c). The inmate may
then request such "final disposition" through the
corrections official. Article III(a). That request must be
"promptly forwarded" to the prosecuting authority,
together with a certificate, prepared by the corrections
stating the term of commitment under which the prisoner is
being held, the time already served, the time remaining to be
served on the sentence, the amount of good time earned, the
time of parole eligibility of the prisoner, and any decision
of the state parole agency relating to the prisoner.
the inmate is returned to the prosecuting authority's
state, the prosecutor must bring him to trial within 180
days, "provided that for good cause shown in open court,
the prisoner or his counsel being present, the court having
jurisdiction of the matter may grant any necessary or
reasonable continuance." Id. And an inmate who
is not timely brought to trial under this provision is
entitled to have the charges dismissed with prejudice.
case, the Appellant claimed that he made a request for final
disposition, but he was not tried within 180 days of having
"caused to be delivered to the prosecuting officer and
the appropriate court of the prosecuting officer's
jurisdiction" that request along with the required
certificate from the corrections official. Article III(a).
Appellant was incarcerated in a federal penitentiary in
California when Waller county placed a detainer on him to
answer to a capital murder double-homicide charge. The State
essentially conceded that Appellant made a request through
the corrections official that was received by the prosecuting
authority on February 8, 2013. If that request was
sufficient to trigger the 180 period, then the State was
obligated to put Appellant to trial by August 7, 2013, absent
some legitimate tolling event.
trial court, the State made two arguments why it should not
be bound to this date. First, it argued that Appellant did
not properly trigger Article III(a)'s 180-day trial
period because the corrections official's certificate
left out some of the required information, namely,
Appellant's parole status. Second, the State argued that
the trial court essentially granted a continuance for good
cause during a hearing on June 4, 2013, in order to appoint
Appellant counsel, which effectively tolled the 180-day
period. The court of appeals rejected both arguments.
respect to the State's first argument, the court of
appeals referenced ample case authority, including several
courts of appeals opinions from this state, for the
proposition that an inmate who channels his request through
the appropriate corrections official has done everything
within his power to notify the prosecuting authority and
court of his desire for a speedy final disposition, and he
cannot be held responsible to any technical deficiency in the
corrections official's certificate. Lasker, 577
S.W.3d at 592-93. Article III(c) specifically requires
the inmate to channel his request through the corrections
official; at the same time, it gives him no control over the
reliability of the corrections official in subsequently
performing that function under the IADA. Article IX of the
IADA expressly provides that it "shall be liberally
construed so as to effectuate its purposes." Because the
failure to expeditiously try inmates who are incarcerated in
other states "produce[s] uncertainties which obstruct
programs of prisoner treatment and rehabilitation[, ]"
it is the stated purpose of the IADA "to encourage the
expeditious and orderly disposition" of charges in those
states. It is therefore arguable that, so long as the
prosecuting authority and appropriate court actually receive,
and therefore have notice of, the inmate's request for
final disposition from the corrections official, any slight
deficiency in the certificate should not operate to block the
inception of the 180-day period.
another express purpose of the IADA is to "provide . . .
cooperative procedures" for the expeditious resolution
of outstanding charges for inmates whose correctional status
may be adversely affected. Article I. The State may have a
valid point that, before the IADA procedures may truly be
said to be "cooperative," they must be strictly
construed to assure adequate notice to the prosecuting
authority so that it may reach an informed decision whether
it is worth the effort to bring the inmate back for trial.
And the inmate's parole status is certainly a material
consideration in this calculus.
the certificate of the corrections officer left this part
blank. Even a notation that parole status was "not
applicable" in the federal correctional system (assuming
that is accurate) would have been more informative to the
prosecuting authority than leaving those portions altogether
unanswered. Was the certificate that is to accompany the
inmate's request sufficient to trigger the 180-day