State ex rel. Pharm v. Bartow

Citation2007 WI 13,727 N.W.2d 1
Decision Date25 January 2007
Docket NumberNo. 2004AP583.,2004AP583.
PartiesSTATE of Wisconsin ex rel. Frederick Lee PHARM, Petitioner-Appellant-Petitioner, v. Bryan BARTOW, Director, and Wisconsin Resource Center, Respondents-Respondents.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin

For the petitioner-appellant-petitioner there were briefs by Jon G. Furlow, Roisin H. Bell, Nia Enemuoh-Trammell, and Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Madison, and oral argument by Jon G. Furlow.

For the respondents-respondents the cause was argued by Warren D. Weinstein, Assistant Attorney General, with whom on the brief was Peggy Lautenschlager, Attorney General.


This is a review of a decision of the court of appeals that affirmed the circuit court's order1 denying Frederick Lee Pharm's (Pharm) petition for habeas corpus discharge from his commitment pursuant to Wis. Stat. ch. 980 (2003-04).2 Pharm asserts that due to the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD) and his waivers of extradition for criminal proceedings, Wisconsin was precluded from commencing commitment under ch. 980 following the term of incarceration imposed for crimes committed in Wisconsin.

¶ 2 We conclude that neither the IAD nor Pharm's waivers of extradition under the IAD for his prosecution and incarceration by Wisconsin precluded Wisconsin from commencing a ch. 980 commitment proceeding. Pharm's rights under the IAD and its extradition waivers were fully accorded upon his return to Wisconsin to serve his outstanding criminal sentence. At that point, the IAD had no further application to Pharm. In addition, any obligations Wisconsin had to Nevada under the IAD were concluded when Pharm was returned to Nevada to complete his term of incarceration for his Nevada convictions. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals.


¶ 3 The relevant facts are undisputed. In 1975, Pharm committed sexual acts that led to criminal charges in Milwaukee County. Pharm left Wisconsin prior to his arrest on those charges. In 1977, Pharm was convicted of murder in Nevada and sentenced to life in prison. In October 1987, the Nevada Department of Prisons informed Pharm that Wisconsin had filed a detainer against him based on pending charges in Milwaukee County.

¶ 4 In response, Pharm executed a "Request for Disposition of Indictments, Informations or Complaints," pursuant to IAD Article III, Wis. Stat. § 976.05(3). Pharm's Request for Disposition asked for "final disposition of all untried indictments, informations or complaints on the basis of which detainers have been lodged." As part of his Article III request, he agreed that in asking for prompt final disposition,

I also agree that this request shall be deemed to be my waiver of extradition with respect to any charge or proceeding contemplated hereby or included herein, and a waiver of extradition to your state to serve any sentence there imposed upon me, after completion of my term of imprisonment in this state.

Pharm further consented to be produced in any court necessary to effectuate the purposes of the IAD and to be voluntarily returned to Nevada to complete his term of incarceration there.

¶ 5 Based on Pharm's Request for Disposition, Nevada submitted an "Offer to Deliver Temporary Custody" to Wisconsin, "in order that speedy and efficient prosecution may be had of the indictment, information or complaint. . . ." Wisconsin then sent a document entitled "Prosecutor's Acceptance of Temporary Custody Offered in Connection with an Inmate's Request for Disposition of a Detainer." It was signed by the Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney and stated, "I propose to bring this person to trial on the complaint named in the offer within the time specified in Article III(a) of the Agreement on Detainers." Wisconsin also agreed to return Pharm to Nevada, or any jurisdiction Nevada designated to take temporary custody, immediately after a trial on the Wisconsin charges was completed. Thereafter, Pharm was transported to Wisconsin to face criminal charges.

¶ 6 A jury found Pharm guilty of both indecent behavior with a child and sexual perversion. The circuit court imposed consecutive indeterminate sentences, not to exceed a total of fifteen years, and ordered the sentences to be served consecutively to Pharm's life sentence in Nevada. Pharm was then returned to Nevada to continue incarceration there.

¶ 7 In October 1990, Pharm was paroled by Nevada. The Parole Agreement stated as a condition, "Parole to Wisconsin Detainer." Nevada authorities sent a letter to Wisconsin authorities regarding the terms of Pharm's custody, which stated:

The above named subject has been paroled to your "HOLD" and will remain under Nevada's parole supervision until Life.

To assist us in fulfilling our responsibility in this matter we request that you notify us immediately should the subject escape from your custody, or of the final disposition of any pending charges.

Please accept this letter as a request for sixty (60) days notification prior to the subject's release or transfer within your system.

¶ 8 In contrast to what occurred before Pharm's Wisconsin trial on outstanding charges, Nevada executed no Offer to Deliver Temporary Custody prior to Pharm's return to Wisconsin to begin his term of incarceration. Wisconsin then took custody of Pharm and brought him to Wisconsin for confinement in a Wisconsin prison.

¶ 9 Pharm's mandatory release date from a Wisconsin prison was scheduled for October 28, 1997. Prior to his release, Nevada wrote Pharm advising him to contact the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation upon his release.3 However, on the date of his scheduled release, Wisconsin initiated a ch. 980 proceeding to commit Pharm as a sexually violent person. Following a jury trial, Pharm was found to be a sexually violent person, and the Milwaukee County Circuit Court committed him to a secure mental health facility. Pharm's commitment was upheld on direct appeal. State v. Pharm, 2000 WI App 167, 238 Wis.2d 97, 617 N.W.2d 163.

¶ 10 Pharm moved, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 806.07(1)(h), to vacate the judgment on the grounds that his commitment violated the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA), Wis. Stat. § 976.03. The circuit court denied the motion and the court of appeals summarily affirmed. State v. Pharm, No.2001AP2835, unpublished slip op. (Wis. Ct.App. April 8, 2003). Next, Pharm filed a federal habeas corpus petition claiming a violation of the IAD, which was dismissed by the district court for failure to exhaust state remedies.

¶ 11 Pharm then filed this habeas corpus action, alleging his ch. 980 commitment violated the IAD. The circuit court denied Pharm's habeas petition, which decision was affirmed by the court of appeals. State ex rel. Pharm v. Bartow, 2005 WI App 215, 287 Wis.2d 663, 706 N.W.2d 693. In so concluding, the court of appeals held that Pharm had no right to be returned to Nevada or to expect immunization from potential commitment proceedings under ch. 980. Id., ¶ 25, 706 N.W.2d 693. Pharm petitioned for review, which we granted.

A. Standard of Review

¶ 12 The review of an order denying habeas corpus relief is a mixed question of fact and law. State v. Pozo, 2002 WI App 279, ¶ 6, 258 Wis.2d 796, 654 N.W.2d 12. We will not reverse findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Id. However, the circuit court made no factual findings in this case. Therefore, whether habeas corpus relief is available is a question of law that we review independently. Id. (citing State ex rel. Woods v. Morgan, 224 Wis.2d 534, 537, 591 N.W.2d 922 (Ct.App.1999)); see also State ex rel. Hager v. Marten, 226 Wis.2d 687, 693-94, 594 N.W.2d 791 (1999) (citation omitted).

¶ 13 To review the order that denied habeas corpus relief in light of the arguments Pharm raises, we interpret the IAD, codified at Wis. Stat. § 976.05. The interpretation and application of a statute to an undisputed set of facts are questions of law that this court reviews independently. State v. Sostre, 198 Wis.2d 409, 414, 542 N.W.2d 774 (1996) (citing Ynocencio v. Fesko, 114 Wis.2d 391, 396, 338 N.W.2d 461 (1983)).

B. The IAD

¶ 14 The IAD is an interstate compact that prescribes "procedures by which a member State may obtain for trial a prisoner incarcerated in another member jurisdiction and by which the prisoner may demand the speedy disposition of certain charges pending against him in another jurisdiction." State v. Eesley, 225 Wis.2d 248, 254, 591 N.W.2d 846 (1999) (quoting United States v. Mauro, 436 U.S. 340, 343, 98 S.Ct. 1834, 56 L.Ed.2d 329 (1978)). Both Wisconsin and Nevada are party states to the IAD. The IAD is set out in Wis. Stat. § 976.05 and Nev.Rev.Stat. § 178.620 (2005). The IAD aids in efficient prosecution of crimes and it removes uncertainties that obstruct programs of prisoner treatment and rehabilitation by clarifying prisoner status. § 976.05(1).

¶ 15 The IAD is a congressionally sanctioned interstate compact within the meaning of the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution, Art. I, § 10, cl. 3, "and thus is a federal law subject to federal construction." Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716, 719, 105 S.Ct. 3401, 87 L.Ed.2d 516 (1985) (citing Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 438-442, 101 S.Ct. 703, 66 L.Ed.2d 641 (1981)). Therefore, in order to accord more consistency with the IAD interpretations of other federal and state courts, we may employ federal rules of construction in interpreting Wis. Stat. § 976.05.

¶ 16 We begin by "determin[ing] whether the language at issue has a plain and unambiguous meaning. . . . Our inquiry [will] cease if the statutory language is unambiguous and `the statutory scheme is coherent and consistent.'" Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., 519 U.S. 337, 340, 117 S.Ct. 843, 136 L.Ed.2d 808 (1997) (quoting United States v. Ron Pair Enters., Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 240, 109 S.Ct. 1026, 103 L.Ed.2d 290 (1989)). To determine whether statutory language is plain and...

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