United States District Court, S.D. New York
Jason M. Swergold, Assistant United States Attorney, PREET BHARARA, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY.
Robert M. Baum, Federal Defenders, of New York, Inc. Attorney for Defendant
LEWIS A. KAPLAN, District Judge.
On February 13, 2008, a federal grand jury in this district indicted Damon Wade on one count of escape in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 751 and 4082(a). An arrest warrant was issued that same day.
Wade was taken into federal custody by the U.S. Marshals Service ("USMS") on April 13, 2015-seven years and two months (2, 616 days) later. Wade now moves to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the delay between his indictment and arrest violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial.
This case raises an interesting question about the scope of the federal government's obligation to seek to try a defendant on pending federal charges while that defendant is in state custody. While some cases from outside this circuit suggest that the federal government acts negligently by awaiting termination of a prior state sentence before seeking to try such a defendant on federal charges, the Court ultimately finds these cases unpersuasive in the present circumstances. Wade neither clearly asserted his speedy trial right nor has he demonstrated prejudice from the period of delay. Given the current state of the law, the motion is denied.
Wade was arrested on April 6, 1999, on a criminal complaint alleging conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. He pleaded guilty on June 29, 1999, and was sentenced to 57 months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Wade subsequently violated the terms of his supervised release and was sentenced on May 20, 2004, to an additional ten months' imprisonment.
Wade was admitted to the Bronx County Corrections Center, a halfway house, on or about January 12, 2005, to complete the last month of his federal sentence. On January 19, 2005, he left with a pass that required him to return during the afternoon. Wade claims that he slipped on some ice while walking outside and cracked two of his teeth and that, while he was at the dentist, his mother called the halfway house and was informed that "it was too late for [Wade] to come back and that [he] would be charged with escape." Wade never returned to the halfway house.
Wade again was arrested on April 19, 2007 (two years after his departure from the halfway house) by the New York State Police for alleged participation in a drug conspiracy. He pleaded guilty and, on January 16, 2008, Wade was sentenced to a term of six to twelve years' incarceration in a state facility.
On February 13, 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Wade on one count of escape. On February 15, 2008, the USMS lodged a detainer with the state facility that directed the warden to "advise [Wade]... that a Detainer has been filed... and that under the [Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act he] has the right to demand speedy trial on the charges." The form contains a paragraph explaining the prisoner's rights and a signature line for the prisoner to acknowledge those rights, but the line on Wade's detainer is blank. Wade states that he became aware of the warrant sometime in February 2008,  but his affirmation is silent as to whether anyone explained his right to demand a speedy trial or provided him with a copy of the detainer. In any case, Wade came to believe that the state parole board denied him parole in 2012 due to the pending federal charges, although he alleges no facts substantiating that assertion.
On June 26, 2012, Wade wrote to the Clerk for the Southern District. Wade's letter explained that he did not return to the halfway house in 2005 because of his emergency trip to the dentist and asserted that he "couldn't have escaped cause [he] was out on a 5 hour pass." Wade requested that the Clerk "get this escape warrant vacated" or "get this issue taken care of or if not... send the paperwork to the people who can vacate this warrant." The pro se office mailed Wade a habeas corpus form. Nothing else appears to have occurred.
Wade was released from state custody on April 13, 2015, and immediately taken into federal custody. He was arraigned on the ...