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Breeden v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

Decided: June 12, 1992.

LEE BREEDEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from State of New Jersey, Department of Corrections.

Antell, Baime and Thomas. The opinion of the court was delivered by Baime, J.A.D.

Baime

The opinion of the court was delivered by

BAIME, J.A.D.

While serving a sentence in New Jersey, appellant escaped and fled to California where he committed another offense. Following his apprehension and conviction in that state, the Superior Court of California imposed a sentence of three years and directed that it be served concurrent to the uncompleted portion of appellant's New Jersey prison term. Despite repeated requests by the California Department of Corrections, New Jersey prison officials refused to accept appellant's return to this state for service of the balance of his New Jersey sentence. Instead, appellant was compelled to serve the entirety of his California sentence before he was returned to this state to complete the unexpired portion of the New Jersey prison term. The New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) subsequently denied appellant's request for credit for the time spent in serving the California sentence. In reaching this Conclusion, the DOC reasoned that it had no obligation to give extraterritorial effect to the California Judge's direction that the California sentence be served concurrent to the custodial term previously imposed in New Jersey. We reverse.

We hold that principles of comity impel the DOC to honor the direction of a Judge of another state that a sentence imposed in the foreign jurisdiction be served concurrent to a prison term previously set in New Jersey. The DOC can either accept the transfer of the prisoner to this state for service of his New Jersey sentence or grant time credit for the period served in the foreign jurisdiction. Either way, New Jersey has no interest in blithely ignoring the lawful orders of the judiciary of another jurisdiction.

The facts are not in dispute. On August 4, 1981, appellant was sentenced in New Jersey to an indeterminate term not to exceed ten years upon his conviction for armed robbery. He was paroled on May 17, 1983. One day later, he was arrested and returned to custody. Appellant was subsequently convicted of aggravated assault and terroristic threats and sentenced to ten years. The prior parole was revoked in August 1984 and appellant received a two year parole violation term on the first conviction.

On February 3, 1985, appellant escaped from the Marlboro Camp at Marlboro State Hospital where he was serving his sentence. An arrest warrant was issued on February 4, 1985 by the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Prison. Appellant remained at large for approximately two months.

On March 23, 1985, appellant was arrested in California for various disorderly persons offenses. He received a 25 day county jail sentence on those charges. Appellant completed his sentence on April 16, 1985, but was held until May 29, 1985, pursuant to an interstate detainer. Therefore, the time spent in county jail in California solely on the New Jersey detainer totalled 42 days. On May 29, 1985, appellant escaped from extradition officers in Oregon while being transported back to New Jersey.

On August 17, 1985, appellant was arrested in California for armed robbery. After pleading guilty to the charge, he was

sentenced to three years to be served concurrent to any prior ...


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