People v. Newton, 87SA116

Decision Date28 November 1988
Docket NumberNo. 87SA116,87SA116
Citation764 P.2d 1182
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. James Oliver NEWTON, Jr., a/k/a John Miller, a/k/a Gregory Islamoff, a/k/a Robert Smith, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtColorado Supreme Court

James F. Smith, Dist. Atty., Michael J. Milne, Deputy Dist. Atty., Brighton, for plaintiff-appellant.

David F. Vela, State Public Defender, Daniel W. Edwards, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, for defendant-appellee.

QUINN, Chief Justice.

The People appeal from a district court judgment which dismissed three felony charges against the defendant, James Oliver Newton, Jr., pursuant to the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), § 24-60-501, 10B C.R.S. (1988). 1 The district court ruled that Newton had not been brought to trial within 180 days after he made a formal request for final disposition of the one charge on which a detainer had been filed and, on that basis, dismissed that charge and the other two charges filed against him. We affirm that part of the judgment dismissing the charge on which the detainer had been filed, and reverse that part of the judgment dismissing the two other charges on which detainers had not been filed.


The facts are not in dispute. On July 2, 1985, the People filed a complaint in the Adams County Court charging Newton with felony-theft of rental property, § 18-4-402(1)(b), 8B C.R.S. (1986). The charging document alleged that between March 30 and July 2, 1985, Newton knowingly failed to reveal the whereabouts of or to return a video tape recorder and video tape movies within 72 hours after the expiration of the rental agreement on the property. On or about January 13, 1986, the People also filed a separate complaint in the Adams County Court, charging the defendant with first degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, § 18-4-409, 8B C.R.S. (1986), and felony-fraud by check, § 18-5-205, 8B C.R.S. (1986), both of which allegedly were committed on October 14, 1985.

Because Newton was serving a sentence in Lincoln, Illinois when the Adams County charges were filed, the district attorney, pursuant to the IAD, filed a detainer with the Illinois correctional facility. The detainer was filed on the basis of the theft of rental property charge. Article III(a) of the IAD provides that if the out-of-state prisoner makes a request for final disposition of the charge, he must be brought to trial within 180 days after he causes the request to be delivered to the prosecuting attorney and the appropriate court of the prosecutor's jurisdiction, unless the court grants a necessary and reasonable continuance of the trial. § 24-60-501(III)(a), 10B C.R.S. (1988). Newton made a written request for speedy disposition of the charge on July 7, 1986, and his request was received by the Adams County District Attorney's Office and the Adams County Court on or about July 28, 1986. 2 Newton was thereafter returned to Colorado pursuant to the IAD and appeared in the county court on both criminal complaints on August 20, 1986. The prosecutor on this occasion informed the court that Newton was in Colorado pursuant to an interstate detainer. The court advised Newton of all three charges filed against him and appointed the Public Defender's Office to represent him.

A preliminary hearing was conducted on both cases on September 25, 1986. At this hearing neither the prosecutor nor defense counsel advised the court of Newton's detainer status. The county court found probable cause on all charges and bound the two cases over for proceedings in the district court.

On October 26, 1986, Newton was arraigned in the district court on both cases and entered pleas of not guilty. The district court was not advised of Newton's detainer status, and no request was made for an expedited trial date. The court set the theft of rental property charge for trial on February 17, 1987, and the other case, which involved the charges of aggravated theft of a motor vehicle and fraud by check, was set for trial on February 19, 1987.

On February 5, 1987, Newton filed motions to dismiss, claiming that he had complied with the IAD by requesting a speedy disposition but was not being accorded a speedy trial. 3 The court conducted hearings on the motion, and on March 3, 1987, dismissed all charges. The court ruled that, although defendant's speedy trial rights under the IAD may be voluntarily waived, Newton's silence in regard to the setting of the belated trial dates did not constitute a voluntary waiver.

The People in this appeal challenge the judgment of dismissal on two grounds: first, that Newton had an obligation to object to the trial date of February 17, 1987, in order to preserve his speedy trial rights under the IAD, and that by not objecting the speedy trial period was extended to the actual date of trial; and second, that, because the charges of aggravated motor vehicle theft and fraud by check were not included in the detainer lodged against the defendant, the district court erred in applying the 180-day speedy trial requirement of the IAD to non-detainer charges.

Before addressing these claims, it will be helpful to review the statutory and decisional law pertaining to the speedy trial requirements of the IAD, since it is that body of law which provides the framework for our resolution of this appeal.


Colorado has enacted several statutes in implementation of a defendant's right to a speedy trial. Interstate detainer cases, which involve prisoners who are confined in another state and are charged with a crime in Colorado, are governed by the IAD. § 24-60-501, 10B C.R.S. (1988). "The purpose of the IAD is 'to encourage the expeditious and orderly disposition of ... charges and determination of the proper status of any and all detainers based on untried indictments, informations, or complaints' so that any uncertainty about the prisoner's status will be dispelled, and rehabilitation and treatment can proceed unhindered." Dodson v. Cooper, 705 P.2d 500, 502 (Colo.1985) cert. denied 474 U.S. 1084, 106 S.Ct. 857, 88 L.Ed.2d 896 (1986). Article III(a) of the IAD requires the prosecution to try a prisoner within 180 days after receipt of the prisoner's request for final disposition, unless the court having jurisdiction of the matter grants a necessary or reasonable continuance.

Intrastate detainer cases, which involve prisoners who are confined in a Colorado correctional facility and have a Colorado charge pending against them, are governed by the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainer Act (UMDDA), §§ 16-14-101 to -108, 8A C.R.S. (1986). The UMDDA contains a 90 day speedy trial period which commences upon receipt by the court and the district attorney of the prisoner's request for final disposition. § 16-14-104, 8A C.R.S. (1986). Finally, other criminal cases not involving detainers are subject to Colorado's speedy trial statute, which provides that, in the absence of a waiver or extension of the speedy trial period, a trial must commence within six months after the entry of a not guilty plea. § 18-1-405(1), 8B C.R.S. (1986).

Although these statutes apply to different situations, they nonetheless "reflect the same policy of assuring speedy trials" and, therefore, "the enunciated principles for one can be applied to the others unless the provisions conflict." People v. Swazo, 199 Colo. 486, 489, 610 P.2d 1072, 1074 (1980); see also People v. Campbell, 742 P.2d 302, 306 (Colo.1987). For example, we have applied rules involving speedy trial waivers in non-detainer cases to the IAD, see People v. Sevigny, 679 P.2d 1070 (Colo.1984), as well as to the UMDDA, Chambers v. District Court, 180 Colo. 241, 504 P.2d 340 (1972), and have also utilized principles applicable to the IAD in resolving claims under the UMDDA, People v. Higinbotham, 712 P.2d 993 (Colo.1986). In cases involving interstate detainers, the provisions of the IAD are mandatory and will obviously control over any conflicting provisions in either the UMDDA or the general speedy trial statute. See United States v. Mauro, 436 U.S. 340, 363-64, 98 S.Ct. 1834, 1848-49, 56 L.Ed.2d 329, 349 (1978); Hughes v. District Court, 197 Colo. 396, 401, 593 P.2d 702, 705 (1979).

The provisions of the IAD are activated when a state charges a person imprisoned in another state with a crime and files a detainer with the official having custody of the prisoner. Mauro, 436 U.S. at 343, 98 S.Ct. at 1838, 56 L.Ed.2d at 336; Dodson, 705 P.2d at 502. The prisoner has the right to make a request for speedy disposition, thereby waiving extradition on the charges underlying the detainer and consenting to appear in court as required. § 24-60-501(III)(e), 10B C.R.S. (1988). The prisoner's act in causing his request for final disposition to be delivered "to the prosecuting officer and the appropriate court of the prosecuting officer's jurisdiction" triggers the running of the 180-day speedy trial period in Article III(a) of the IAD. 4 Once the speedy trial period has been properly activated by the prisoner, the burden of compliance is on the district attorney and the court. E.g., People v. Allen, 744 P.2d 73, 77 (Colo.1987); Sevigny, 679 P.2d at 1074. In the event the criminal charges on the basis of which the detainer has been lodged are not brought to trial within 180 days of the receipt of the prisoner's request for final disposition, then in the absence of "any reasonable or necessary continuance" of the trial, § 24-60-501(III)(a) 10B C.R.S. (1988), or alternatively in the absence of a "tolling" of the speedy trial period due to the prisoner's inability to stand trial, § 24-60-501(VI)(a), 10B C.R.S. (1988), Article V(c) of the IAD requires the court to enter an order dismissing with prejudice those charges underlying the detainer without regard to any showing of prejudice by the prisoner. See, e.g., Sevigny, 679 P.2d at 1074; Hughes, 197 Colo. at 402, 593 P.2d at 706.

While the IAD expressly authorizes "any necessary or...

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