Friday, May 31, 2013

Rare win under Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act

Benjamin Fisher and Shawn Lautz won in State v. Burnett, No. 100,766 (Kan. May 31, 2013), reversing a Reno County conviction for aggravated weapons violation.  The Court reversed the conviction based on a violation of the Uniform Mandatory Disposition of Detainers Act (UMDDA), the "intrastate process for prisoners in Kansas penal or correctional institutions to request final disposition of other criminal charges pending in the state."

The Court explained the general speedy trial protections under the UMDDA:
Once the prisoner properly initiates disposition of the other charges under the UMDDA, the State's failure to bring those charges to trial within 180 days deprives the district court of jurisdiction, subject to certain statutory exceptions. K.S.A. 22-4303.
Applying the UMDDA to Burnett's case, the court stated:
We hold that the Court of Appeals incorrectly determined there were procedural bars precluding review of Burnett's case. We further hold that the district court erred when it determined the UMDDA was inapplicable to Burnett's pending charges. Based on this and the lack of any claim that continuances tolled the running of the 180-day period, we hold the district court lost jurisdiction to try, convict, or sentence Burnett. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeals decision affirming the district court. Burnett's conviction is reversed and his sentence vacated.
The procedural bars that the COA had found were based on Burnett sending his detainer request to the secretary of the KDOC instead of local county jail officials, his failing to send his request by certified mail, and the fact that it was unknown when the Reno County District Attorney received a copy of the request (which starts the 180-day period).  The KSC rejected all of these alleged procedural bars.

The KSC held that Burnett was in the "custody" of the KDOC for purposes of the statute, because he was held in the county jail pursuant to a felony sentence with an order to be transferred to the KDOC.  Thus, Burnett's service of his UMDDA request on the Secretary of Corrections was appropriate.

Additionally, the KSC held that Burnett was not required to send his disposition request by certified mail.  The statute simply does not contain such a requirement.

The court held that the KDOC failed to fulfill its duty to send certified documents to the district court and to the district attorney, but this failure could not prejudice Burnett from asserting his statutory speedy trial rights (reaffirming that "the burden to send the certification to the district court and county attorney shifts to prison officials once the facts establish that the prisoner properly invoked the UMDDA").

Because Burnett was not brought to trial within 180 days of his request for disposition of his detainer, the court vacated Burnett's conviction and sentence.

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