Friday, January 10, 2014

Certified Ohio Question re. Status of County Jail/ State Prison in Interstate Agreements

   Cleveland’s Plain Dealer last Tuesday wrote about a certified appeals case in which the key issue centers in how a phrase “a penal or correctional institution of a party state,” which appears in the interstate agreement – meant to resolve outstanding charges in one state when a prisoner is detained in another state, rather than waiting for the prisoner’s release --  should be applied, and  whether where the prisoner is jailed affects how an interstate agreement set up to resolve pending charges against that prisoner. [ See State of Ohio vs.James D. Black, Case 2013-0805 docket].
   James Black, having charges outstanding on him in three Ohio counties, the article said,  Asked,  in March 2011 under the multi-stateagreement, that charges against him in those counties be resolved while he was serving a sentence in a county lockup in Cecil County, Md.
  He was returned to Ohio to face his charges here, and under the agreement, should have gone to trial within 180 days, appearing for arraignment in Ashland on Aug. 1, 2011, but then being returned to Maryland  before going to trial. The outstanding charges in Ashland County made him ineligible for parole or community work programs, according to his lawyers and he was released in September 2011;  later to be arrested in Ohio for not appearing at a December 2011 trial date in Ashland County, A jury convicted him of theft and breaking and entering in March 2012 and he was sentenced to a year in prison.
  Black unsuccessfully sought to have those charges dismissed, arguing that since the county missed the deadlines in the multi-state agreement he could no longer be tried for them. While the 5th. Circuit appellate court agreed and overturned his conviction, the state appealed that ruling, certifying aconflict with an 8th. Circuit holding ten years earlier.
The 5th. Circuit in its ruling in fact referred to that earlier holding saying:

   “…“The State relies upon the decision of the Eighth District Court of Appeals in State v. Wyer, 8th Dist. 82962, 2003 -Ohio- 6926, in support of its position. In Wyer, the Eighth District found an out-of-state county jail in which the defendant was incarcerated for an unrelated offense was not a “correctional institution of a party state” under the terms of the IAD; therefore, the IAD was inapplicable to that defendant. Id. At 15. The decisions of the Eighth District Court of Appeals are persuasive, but not binding, authority on this Court. Rule 4(A), Supreme Court Rules for the Reporting of Opinions. We do not find Wyer persuasive.

¶24} Appellant cites a number of appellate cases from other states in support of his position, including
Escalanti v. Superior Court, 165 Ariz. 385, 799 P2d 5 (Ariz. App 1990). In Escalanti, the Arizona Court of
Appeals addressed the issue of whether the IAD applies to a defendant held in county jail as well as a defendant held in state prison. Answering in the affirmative, the Escalanti Court found: Ashland County, Case No. 12-COA-018 8

 “{¶25} “Article III of the Agreement ensures a speedy trial to those in a ‘penal or correctional institution.’ We believe that this language clearly included the Santa Barbara County Jail. Clear language in a statute is given its usual meaning unless impossible or absurd consequences would result. In re Marriage of Gray, 144 Ariz. 89, 91, 695 P.2d 1127, 1129 (1985); Balestrieri v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Ins. Co.,
112 Ariz. 160, 163, 540 P.2d 126, 129 (1975). A ‘penal institution’ is a ‘generic term to describe all places of confinement for those convicted of crime such as jails, prisons, and houses of correction.’Black's Law Dictionary 1020 (5th ed. 1979). A ‘correctional institution’ is a ‘generic term describing prisons, jails, reformatories and other places of correction and detention.’ (Citation omitted).” Id. at 387.

“{¶26} The Escalanti Court further noted for purposes of the IAD, “the only difference between the state
prison and the county jail for an incarcerated person is the sign on the building. Nothing in Article III of the
Agreement expressly limits its speedy trial guarantee to prisons. Nor does any language in the Agreement deny its protection to prisoners incarcerated in county jails. Instead, the Agreement by its terms applies to
all penal and correctional institutions.” Id.

“{¶27} We agree with the rationale of Escalanti, and find the IAD applies to offenders held in county
jails as well as state penal or correctional facilities. The IAD specifically states, “This agreement shall be
liberally construed so as to effectuate its purposes.” R.C. 2963.30, Art. IX. As stated, supra, the purpose of
the IAD is “to encourage the expeditious and orderly disposition of such charges and determination of
the proper status of any and all detainers based on untried indictments, informations or complaints.””

   Oral arguments were heard on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2013.

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