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Speedy Trial Time Under CPL § 30.30 Tolled When Defendant In Federal Custody In Another State

People v. Mungro 2011 NY Slip Op 05584                                                                                   Decided June 30, 2011

Issue: Whether defendant’s right to a speedy trial under New York CPL § 30.30 are violated when the prosecution fails to request his presence in New York when defendant is in federal custody.

Holding: The prosecution did not violate defendant’s speedy trial rights under New York CPL § 30.30 by failing to request his presence in New York from federal custody in Ohio until his prosecution there was completed and he began serving his sentence.  The speedy trial time of CPL § 30.30 is tolled by the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (CPL 580.20) while defendant is in federal custody in another state.

Facts: Defendant could not be located following the robbery, and he was indicted for that crime in absentia on October 25, 2004. The People declared their readiness for trial three days later. Defendant thereafter was located in Columbus, Ohio and, on July 8, 2005, Federal Marshals attempted to arrest him there on an Erie County warrant that had been issued in this case. Defendant, however, crashed his vehicle into the Federal Marshals’ vehicle and escaped. He was arrested in Ohio three days later, on July 11, 2005, and was charged in Ohio with federal and Ohio crimes as a result of injuring the Federal Marshals in the course of his escape. The Ohio charges were resolved on September 8, 2005, resulting in a sentence of nine months in jail. Approximately two months later, defendant was indicted by a federal grand jury for assaulting a federal agent, and the United States Attorney’s Office notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office (Erie County DA) on May 3, 2006 that defendant had pleaded guilty and was awaiting sentencing. Defendant began serving his federal sentence of four years in August 2006, and in October 2006 the Erie County DA received a letter from defendant requesting that he be delivered to Erie County to resolve the instant charge. In December 2006 the Erie County  DA filed a writ of habeas corpus with federal authorities seeking  to have defendant transferred to Erie County for trial. Defendant thereafter was brought to New York on January 4, 2007 and was arraigned the following day.

Legal Analysis: The Court of Appeals found that the prosecution had no statutory authority to request defendant’s presence until the federal authorities had completed their prosecution and he began serving his sentence.  Because the prosecution had no authority to make the request, the Court reasoned that they should not be penalized for the period of time that the defendant was unavailable for trial in New York.

The Court cited People v. Vrlaku, 73 N.Y.2d 800, which held that during the period of a defendant’s detention by the Federal authorities he was unable to stand trial in New York and that, therefore the running of the 180 day limitation period for disposition of the pending indictments was tolled pursuant to article VI(a) of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers in CPL § 580.20.

The Court cited to CPL 580.20 Agreement on detainers art. IV (a), which states that the prosecution may make a written request for the defendant with the approval of the court here in New York .  Upon receipt of that request the governor of the state where the defendant is being held may disapprove the request for temporary custody or availability either on his own motion or on the motion of the prisoner.