On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 06-11-1656.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 14, 2011
Before Judges Rodriguez and LeWinn.
The State appeals from the August 17, 2010 order dismissing the indictment against defendant Keiya Mershon with prejudice. We reverse and remand the matter for trial.
A Middlesex County Grand Jury indicted defendant with third-degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3, and third-degree conspiracy to commit theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2. The charges stem from the May 20, 2006, taking of a 2004 Freightliner Truck belonging to Spirits Delivery by defendant and Bruno Coecho. Defendant was found inside the truck and arrested. After he posted bail, defendant was arrested by federal authorities. He therefore failed to appear for his arraignment. On November 16, 2006, a warrant was issued for his arrest. A second warrant was issued on June 15, 2007; the Middlesex County Prosecutor sent a copy of this warrant to the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under cover letter dated June 14, 2007.
On April 30, 2008, defendant filed a motion for speedy trial or disposition of all warrants or detainers. At the time, defendant was serving a ninety-month term imposed by a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Because defendant was in another jurisdiction, the motion was not listed for argument.
Almost two years later, on February 19, 2010, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) informed the Prosecutor that defendant had requested disposition of the charges pending in Middlesex County by invoking Article III of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), codified in New Jersey at N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-1 to -15. The Bureau requested that defendant be brought to trial within 180 days of receipt. The necessary IAD forms were executed by defendant and enclosed with the Bureau's letter.
By March 2, 2010, the Prosecutor acknowledged receipt of the request, sent IAD form VII (Acceptance of Temporary Custody) and arranged for defendant to be transferred to the custody of its agent on April 5, 2010. Defendant was transported to New Jersey and trial was set for April 19, 2010.
Represented by counsel, defendant moved to dismiss the indictment. The judge agreed with defendant's argument that the period set by the IAD for the return of defendant to New Jersey commenced on June 14, 2007, when the Prosecutor sent the warrant to the Federal Detention Center. Thus, the judge dismissed the indictment, but stayed this order pending appeal.
On appeal, the State contends that "defendant did not correctly follow the IAD and the indictment should not have been dismissed." We agree.
The IAD, adopted by forty-eight states, the federal government, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, governs the procedure to be followed when a prisoner is in custody in one jurisdiction, but is wanted for trial in another jurisdiction. State v. Baker, 198 N.J. 189, 192 n.1 (2009); N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-2. The IAD signatories found that "charges outstanding against a prisoner, detainers based on untried indictments, informations or complaints, and difficulties in securing speedy trial of persons already incarcerated in other jurisdictions, produce uncertainties which obstruct programs of prisoner treatment and rehabilitation."
N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-1. The purpose of the IAD is "to encourage the expeditious and orderly disposition of such charges and determination of the proper status of any and all detainers based on ...