United States District Court, D. New Jersey
FORREST M. BAKER, SR., Petitioner,
STEPHEN D'ILIO, et al., Respondents.
B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before this Court is the petition for a writ of habeas corpus
of Forrest M. Baker, Sr. brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254 challenging Mr. Baker's state court conviction. (ECF
No. 1.) Following an order to answer, Respondents filed a
response to the petition. (ECF No. 12.) Mr. Baker thereafter
filed a letter formal reply, (ECF No. 18), and provided a
handful of additional documents related to his state court
proceedings. (ECF No. 15.)
Baker seeks to have this Court overturn his state conviction
based on his claim that the multiple transfers of him to and
from the federal detention center where he was serving his
federal sentence to attend court proceedings in his
subsequent New Jersey state criminal matter violated the
Interstate Agreement on Detainer Act's
(“IAD's”) mandates that “trial shall be
commenced within one hundred and twenty days of the arrival
of the prisoner in the receiving State[, ]” 18
U.S.C.App. 2 § 2, Art. IV(c), and that “[i]f trial
is not had on any indictment, information, or complaint . . .
prior to the prisoner's being returned to the original
place of imprisonment . . . the court shall enter an order
dismissing the same with prejudice.” Id. at
Art. IV(e). (Accord Pet'r's Pet. at Ground
One ¶ 5, ECF No. 1.) For the following reasons, this
Court will deny the petition and will deny Mr. Baker a
certificate of appealability.
April 29, 2002 through October 30, 2002, Mr. Baker committed
five separate bank robberies in southern New Jersey.
(See, e.g., ECF Nos. 12-7, 12-8.) During
that period, on June 29, 2002, Mr. Baker and his
then-thirteen-year-old son also robbed a Rite Aid store
located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. See State v.
Baker, 945 A.2d 723, 725-27 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div.
23, 2003, Mr. Baker pled guilty in United States District
Court to five bank robbery charges. (See Criminal
J., United States v. Baker, No. 1:03-cr-539 (RBK)
(D.N.J. Nov. 25, 2003), appended to Resp'ts' Answer
at ECF No. 12-7.) On November 25, 2003, this Court sentenced
Mr. Baker to seventy-eight months of imprisonment.
(Id.) On January 6, 2004, Mr. Baker began serving
his federal sentence at the federal correctional facility at
Fort Dix. Baker, 945 A.2d at 728.
Baker's plea in federal court did not, however, address
the Rite Aid robbery he and his son committed on June 29,
2002; instead, that crime was prosecuted by the State of New
Jersey. On June 5, 2003, Mr. Baker was charged in a two-count
state indictment with: (i) robbery in the first degree and;
(ii) using a juvenile to commit a crime in the first degree.
Id. at 725. Mr. Baker entered a formal plea of
“not guilty” to these charges in September 2005.
(Resp'ts' Answer 7, ECF No. 12.)
July 1, 2003 and February 2, 2006, Judges Thomas S. Smith Jr.
and Marvin E. Schlosser of the Superior Court of New Jersey
collectively executed sixteen separate “Order[s] to
Produce” by which the state trial court requested that
Mr. Baker be produced from federal custody to attend various
hearings and appear at trial; thirteen of these Orders to
Produce were executed prior to Mr. Baker pleading not guilty
to his state charges in September 2005. (ECF No. 12-11.)
It also appears that many of those Orders to Produce were
accompanied by separate Prosecutor's Certifications
executed by the Burlington County Prosecutor requesting
temporary custody of Mr. Baker pursuant to the Orders to
Produce. (See ECF No. 12-12.)
about August 12, 2005, Mr. Baker filed a pre-trial motion to
dismiss the New Jersey indictment based on the argument,
discussed in greater detail infra, that the Orders
to Produce represented “detainers” which
triggered application of the IAD and required dismissal of
that indictment pursuant to the IAD's anti-shuttling
provision. (ECF No. 12-5.) Mr. Baker's self-prepared
certification in support of that argument universally refers
to these Orders to Produce as “writs of habeas corpus
ad prosequendum.” (Id.) The trial
court denied Mr. Baker's motion to dismiss during a
hearing on October 14, 2005, and Mr. Baker's state
criminal matter proceeded to trial. (Tr. 1T, 8:17-10:23, ECF
January 31, 2006, after five days of trial, a jury returned a
verdict of guilty against Mr. Baker on both counts charged in
the indictment. (Tr. 7T, 125:6-16, ECF No. 12-39.) The trial
court concluded proceedings on that date with the following
exchange with the prosecutor:
MR. MORMANDO: As to any detainer, Your Honor, I know he's
in federal custody right now. Is there any specific detainer
we need to lodge at this point in time or -
THE COURT: Well, if he's - he goes back in federal
custody, he's not going anywhere.
MR. MORMANDO: All right. Thank you.
THE COURT: All right? Okay. Because he's - his bail is
here. So, if they were going to release him, he'd still
have to come back here anyway, all right?
(Id. at 129:9-19.)
Baker's sentencing on February 17, 2006, “the trial
judge imposed a mandatory life sentence without parole on the
first-degree robbery [count], and a concurrent sentence of
fifteen years, seven and one-half years without parole, on
the second count.” Baker, 945 A.2d at 725.
Notably, Mr. Baker acknowledges that “[o]nly after [Mr.
Baker's] sentencing did the State send the [federal]
Bureau of Prisons an actual detainer letter.”
(Pet'r's Reply 23, ECF 17.)
Mr. Baker's Direct Appeal to the State
Baker appealed his conviction and sentence, based on,
inter alia, his assertion that his pre-trial motion
to dismiss the State's indictment should have been
granted in light of the State's alleged violations of IAD
Article IV's anti-shuttling provision. Baker,
945 A.2d at 727. This appears to be the lone IAD-related
argument which Mr. Baker presented on direct appeal.
(See Pet'r's Mar. 5, 2007 Appeal Br. at
Point I, ECF No. 12-16.)
April 14, 2008, the Appellate Division affirmed Mr.
Baker's conviction and sentence. Baker, 945 A.2d
at 736. In so doing, the Appellate Division expressly found
that the IAD was not implicated because “the State
never filed a detainer with the federal correctional
authorities.” Id. at 730. That appellate court
also found it “unnecessary” to remand Mr.
Baker's case to the trial court “for a plenary
hearing to determine exactly how he was produced from the
federal facility for the several appearances he made before
his trial commenced.” Id. at 728.
Jersey Supreme Court granted certification in June 2008. (ECF
No. 12-19.) On March 16, 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court
issued a written opinion affirming Mr. Baker's conviction
“substantially for the reasons expressed” in the
written opinion of the Appellate Division. State v.
Baker, 966 A.2d 488, 489 (N.J. 2009). The New Jersey
Supreme Court then went on to add the following:
On several occasions, the State procured the presence of [Mr.
Baker] from federal custody (where [Mr. Baker] was serving a
term of imprisonment) to appear in then-pending State
criminal proceedings. The State never lodged a detainer
against [Mr. Baker]. Instead, in each instance [Mr. Baker]
was transferred between federal and New Jersey custody via a
writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum or an order to
produce. . . . [A]lthough orders equivalent to an order to
produce, such as writs of habeas corpus ad
prosequendum, qualify as the required “written
request for temporary custody [under IAD Art. 4(a)], ”
they do not constitute a detainer. United States v.
Mauro, [436 U.S. 340');">436 U.S. 340, 360-61(1978)] (“[W]hen
[Congress] used the word ‘detainer, ' it meant
something quite different from a writ of habeas corpus ad
prosequendum . . . . We therefore conclude that a writ
of habeas corpus ad prosequendum is not a detainer
for purposes of the [IAD].”). Viewed thusly, it is
clear that, in the circumstances presented, the two necessary
conditions precedent to the invocation of the IAD never
[Mr. Baker] nevertheless asserts that the repeated use of
orders to produce or writs of habeas corpus ad
prosequendum subverts the purposes of the IAD and must,
in the ...