528 U.S. 110 (2000), 98-1299, New York v. Hill

Docket Nº:Case No. 98-1299
Citation:528 U.S. 110, 120 S.Ct. 659, 145 L.Ed.2d 560, 68 U.S.L.W. 4029
Party Name:NEW YORK v. HILL
Case Date:January 11, 2000
Court:United States Supreme Court

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528 U.S. 110 (2000)

120 S.Ct. 659, 145 L.Ed.2d 560, 68 U.S.L.W. 4029




Case No. 98-1299

United States Supreme Court

January 11, 2000

Argued November 2, 1999




New York lodged a detainer against respondent, an Ohio prisoner, under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD). Respondent signed a request for disposition of the detainer pursuant to IAD Article III and was returned to New York to face murder and robbery charges. Article III(a) provides, inter alia, that, upon such a request, the prisoner must be brought to trial within 180 days, "provided that for good cause shown..., the prisoner or his counsel being present, the court... may grant any necessary or reasonable continuance." Although respondent's counsel initially agreed to a trial date set beyond the 180-day period, respondent subsequently moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the IAD's time limit had expired. In denying the motion, the trial court concluded that defense counsel's explicit agreement to the trial date constituted a waiver or abandonment of respondent's IAD rights. After respondent was convicted of both charges, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, affirmed the trial court's refusal to dismiss for lack of a timely trial. The State Court of Appeals, however, reversed and ordered that the indictment be dismissed; counsel's agreement to a later trial date, it held, did not waive respondent's IAD speedy trial rights.


Defense counsel's agreement to a trial date outside the IAD period bars the defendant from seeking dismissal on the ground that trial did not occur within that period. This Court has articulated a general rule that presumes the availability of waiver, United States v. Mezzanatto, 513 U.S. 196, 200-201, and has recognized that the most basic rights of criminal defendants are subject to waiver, Peretz v. United States, 501 U.S. 923, 936. For certain fundamental rights, the defendant must personally make an informed waiver, but scheduling matters are plainly among those for which agreement by counsel generally controls. Requiring the defendant's express assent for routine and often repetitive scheduling determinations would consume time to no apparent purpose. The text of the IAD, by allowing the court to grant "good-cause continuances" when either "prisoner or his counsel " is present, contemplates that scheduling questions may be left to counsel. Art. III(a) (emphasis added). The Court rejects respondent's arguments for affirmance: (1) that the IAD's provision for "good-cause continuances" is the sole means for extending the time period; (2) that the defendant

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should not be allowed to waive the time limits given that they benefit not only the defendant but society generally; and (3) that waiver of the IAD's time limits can be effected only by an affirmative request for treatment contrary to, or inconsistent with, those limits. Pp. 114-118.

92 N.Y.2d 406, 704 N.E.2d 542, reversed.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Robert Mastrocola argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Howard R. Relin.

Lisa Schiavo Blatt argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With her on the brief were Solicitor General Waxman, Assistant Attorney General Robinson, and Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben.

Brian Shiffrin argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Edward John Nowak, by appointment of the Court, 527 U.S. 1002, and Stephen J. Bird.

JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether defense counsel's agreement to a trial date outside the time period required by Article III of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers bars the defendant from seeking dismissal because trial did not occur within that period.


The Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD) is a compact entered into by 48 States, the United States, and the District of Columbia to establish procedures for resolution of one State's outstanding charges against a prisoner of another State. See N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 580.20 (McKinney 1995); 18 U.S.C. App.§ 2; 11A U. L. A. 48 (1995) (listing jurisdictions). As "a congressionally sanctioned interstate compact" within the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution, Art. I,§ 10, cl. 3, the IAD is a federal law subject to federal construction. Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716, 719 (1985); Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 442 (1981).

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A State seeking to bring charges against a prisoner in another State's custody begins the process by filing a detainer, which is a request by the State's criminal justice agency that the institution in which the prisoner is housed hold...

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