Whether a defendant waives the right to a speedy trial under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, CPL § 580.20, when agreeing to a trial date set beyond the 180 day period mandated by the statute.
No. No waiver of the right to a speedy trial is effected when agreeing to a late trial date.
Hill was incarcerated in Ohio, but wanted in New York for second degree murder and first degree robbery. Law enforcement officials in Monroe County lodged a detainer against him and Hill issued a formal request, under the IAD, for a final disposition of the untried New York charges. The request was delivered on January 10, 1994, triggering the IAD speedy trial requirement of 180 days. Hill was indicted on March 11, 1994. He filed several defense motions in May on which the court ruled in December. Then, in January of 1995, the prosecutor and Hill's defense attorney appeared in court and fixed a trial date for the following May. Hill moved to dismiss the case on April 17, 1995, 486 days after requesting its final disposition, arguing that the prosecution failed to bring him to trial within the statutory speedy trial period. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that Hill's concurrence with the trial date set for May constituted a waiver of his speedy trial rights and the Appellate Division affirmed.
The Court of Appeals reversed. The purpose of the IAD is to encourage the orderly, expeditious disposition of cases involving defendants incarcerated in other states and if a defendant is not brought to trial within its statutory period, the indictment must be dismissed. However, there are exceptions where the prisoner escapes from custody or reasonable continuances are necessary and for good cause. The time needed for the court to hear and decide Hill's defense motions was one such reasonable continuance. But no other period of time could be excluded, and particularly not the period following Hill's agreement to the May trial date.
Prepared by the liibulletin-ny Editorial Board.