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State v. Wells

Decided: September 1, 1982.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBERT CARTER WELLS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Furman, Trautwein and Gaulkin.

Per Curiam

Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction entered upon a jury verdict finding him guilty of stealing travelers checks in the amount of $10,000 (N.J.S.A. 2A:119-3). On this appeal he alleges error only in the denial of his pretrial motion, heard and decided after trial, to dismiss the indictment because of the State's asserted noncompliance with Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-1 et seq.

The operative facts are essentially undisputed. On June 6, 1979 a warrant was issued directing defendant's arrest to answer Indictment 982-78 handed up that day. Apparently aware that defendant was then in custody, the prosecutor addressed a letter to Special Sheriff Parker in Barnstable, Massachusetts, on June 7, enclosing a copy of the warrant and requesting that it be

filed "as a detainer"; the letter further asked that the prosecutor be advised "when the defendant is to be released" and confirmed that "we will extradite." On November 27, 1979 the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office reported that it still had custody of defendant "pending several trials" in Massachusetts and that the Monmouth County warrant "was lodged as a detainer."

By letter of January 18, 1980 to the Monmouth County Clerk, the Barnstable County Sheriff advised that defendant "has been taken into custody by the Sarasota Sheriff's Department, Sarasota, Florida," and that

The Warrant on Indictment from your office has been forwarded with Mr. Wells and Sarasota will lodge it as a detainer and advise you when the defendant is to be released.

By letter of January 21, 1980 to the prosecutor, the Sarasota County Sheriff confirmed that defendant had been taken to Florida State Prison at Lake Butler and that "Your certified copy of Warrant on Indictment has been forwarded with subject to be lodged as a detainer."

Shortly thereafter defendant was transferred to the Marion Correctional Institution in Lowell, Florida, to serve a Florida sentence. On March 10, 1980 he submitted a written request to the institutional authorities to prepare the "interstate compact agreement documents for a fast and speedy trial on my New Jersey warrant." On March 13 he was told to address his request to Classification Supervisor Fortner, which he did on March 31 and again on April 7. In response to both inquiries, Fortner reported that he had been unable to locate the New Jersey warrant. On April 14 defendant completed and executed IAD forms 2 ("Inmate's Notice of Place of Imprisonment and Request for Disposition, etc.") and 4 ("Offer to Deliver Temporary Custody"); on the same day the Superintendent of the Marion Correctional Institution executed form 3 ("Certificate of Inmate Status") and forwarded all three forms to the Interstate Compacts Administrator at the Florida Department of Corrections. By letter of April 30 the administrator responded to defendant that

. . . we have no record of receiving a detainer from the authorities in the State of New Jersey. Thus, until and unless such a detainer is on file against you we are not in a position to proceed with having you returned to that state under the provisions of Interstate Agreement on Detainers.

On April 27 defendant apparently forwarded to either or both the county clerk and prosecutor in Monmouth County a "Demand for Speedy Trial," to which he attached copies of the IAD forms executed in April. No response to that demand was then or thereafter forthcoming from the New Jersey authorities.

Apparently sometime in early June 1980 the Florida Department of Corrections finally confirmed the existence of the detainer and by letter of July 9 it forwarded to the prosecutor the previously executed IAD forms. Finally, on August 7 the prosecutor and assignment judge executed IAD form 7 ("Prosecutor's Acceptance of Temporary Custody"). Defendant was transported to the Monmouth County Jail on September 23 and was arraigned on September 26, at which ...


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