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United States v. Erazo-Santa

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 8, 2016



          Nancy Joseph United States Magistrate Judge

         Angel Erazo-Santa is charged in this district with Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). Erazo-Santa was arraigned on the charge and entered a plea of not guilty. A jury trial before the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller is scheduled for June 27, 2016.

         Before me is Erazo-Santa’s motion to dismiss for violation of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (“IAD”). (Docket # 14.) Erazo-Santa argues that the indictment against him must be dismissed because he was not brought to trial within 180 days of giving notice to the prosecutor and the court of his desire for a prompt disposition, in violation of the IAD. The motion has been briefed and is ready for resolution.[1] For the reasons explained below, I recommend that the defendant’s motion to dismiss be denied.


         On February 25, 2013, Erazo-Santa was arrested by the Milwaukee Police for armed robbery and violating his probation. (Gov’t Br. at 4, Docket # 16.) On August 27, 2013, a grand jury in this district returned a one-count indictment charging Erazo-Santa with Hobbs Act Robbery. (Docket # 1.) On or about August 12, 2014, while serving a Wisconsin state prison sentence at Redgranite Correctional Institution, Erazo-Santa states that he was notified that a detainer had been filed against him based on the indictment in this case. (Def.’s Br. at 1, Docket # 14.) Erazo-Santa signed a form acknowledging receipt of the detainer and indicating that he wished to discuss the issue of prompt disposition with his attorney. (Def.’s Br., Ex. A, Docket # 14-1.)

         On or about August 23, 2014, Erazo-Santa sent a letter to the records office at Redgranite Correctional Institution indicating that he wished to pursue a prompt disposition based on the advice of his attorney. (Def.’s Br., Ex. B, Docket # 14-2.) On or about August 25, 2014, Redgranite Correctional Institution presented Erazo-Santa with another copy of the Notice of the Detainer. (Def.’s Br., Ex. C, Docket # 14-3.) This detainer indicated that Erazo-Santa was not eligible for prompt disposition of his case, so he refused to sign the detainer acknowledgment. (Id.)

         On or about August 16, 2014, Erazo-Santa sent a letter to Assistant United States Attorney Mario Gonzales indicating that he had been advised that a prompt disposition of his detainer was unavailable and asked for clarification of his right to a prompt disposition. (Def.’s Br., Ex. D, Docket # 14-4.) The letter is addressed to AUSA Gonzales at the “Federal Bureau of Investigation, 330 E. Kilbourn Ave., Suite 600” in Milwaukee. (Id.) The government states that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has no record of receiving the letter. (Gov’t Br. at 6.)

         On or about November 3, 2015, Erazo-Santa sent a letter to Chief Judge William Griesbach stating that he was being held on a detainer for a year and a half and had asked for a prompt disposition several times and was told that it did not apply to him. (Def.’s Br., Ex. E, Docket # 14-5.) He stated that he wanted to do “whatever is necessary to resolve this issue.” (Id.) The letter was electronically filed on November 6, 2015. (Id.)


         1. The Interstate Agreement on Detainers

         The IAD is a multi-state agreement to “encourage the expeditious and orderly disposition of [outstanding] charges and determination of the proper status of any and all detainers based on untried indictments, informations, or complaints.” United States v. Jones, 454 F.3d 642, 646-47 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Art. I, 18 U.S.C.App. § 2). Wisconsin and the United States are both parties to the IAD. Wis.Stat. §§ 976.05, 976.06; 18 U.S.C.App. § 2.

         A detainer is a notice filed with a prisoner’s institution of incarceration alerting both he and the institution that the prisoner is wanted to face criminal charges in another jurisdiction. Jones, 454 F.3d at 647. Practically, the detainer is a request that the prisoner be held for the other jurisdiction’s prosecutors or that the holding institution notify the prosecutors of the prisoner’s pending release. Id. When a detainer is lodged, the defendant “‘shall be brought to trial within one hundred and eighty days after he shall have caused to be delivered to the prosecuting officer and the appropriate court of the prosecuting officer’s jurisdiction written notice of . . . his request for a final disposition to be made of the indictment . . . .’” Id. (quoting IAD, Art. III(a), 18 U.S.C.App. § 2) (emphasis in original). The executed demand notifies the waiting jurisdiction of the prisoner’s intent to exercise his right to a speedy trial. Id. The leading Supreme Court case on this matter, Fex v. Michigan, 507 U.S. 43, 52 (1993), found that the IAD requires actual delivery of this notice to both the court and the prosecutor.

         2. Application to this Case

         In this case, Erazo-Santa argues that at least by November 6, 2015, he had given the required written notice to the court and the prosecution of his request for prompt disposition of his case. (Def.’s Br. at 3.) He argues that although the letter to the court was not “artfully drafted, ” it made clear that he was requesting a prompt disposition. (Id.) The government argues that the U.S. Attorney’s Office never received the letter addressed to AUSA Gonzales at the address of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Gov’t Br. at ...

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