APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon.
WILLIAM L. BEATTY, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE CARTER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The State appeals from an order of the Circuit Court of Madison County dismissing the indictment against the defendant under the speedy trial provisions of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (hereinafter termed Agreement). The Agreement was adopted by Illinois in 1971 and its nine articles are codified in section 3-8-9 of the Unified Code of Corrections, the Agreement on Detainers, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1003-8-9). Article III of the Agreement requires that the defendant be brought to trial within 180 days after he has complied with its provisions. The trial court found that the defendant substantially complied with the Agreement, was not tried within 180 days, and therefore dismissed the indictment.
Gary Daily, the defendant, was charged on June 27, 1974, by indictment with escape and armed robbery in Madison County. His whereabouts were unknown until he was arrested in California on charges of armed robbery. The California law enforcement authorities on October 3, 1974, notified the Madison County sheriff's office that the defendant would be available to Illinois for extradition subsequent to the disposition of the California charges. On the same day, the defendant wrote to the clerk of the circuit court at Edwardsville, Illinois (Madison County), requesting information about outstanding warrants and that the letter be treated as a petition pro se for a "fast and speedy trial." The letter was filed October 11, 1974, by the clerk of the circuit court, and a copy was forwarded to the State's Attorney's office and the office of the Public Defender. The circuit clerk's office responded to the defendant's letter, but it was returned undelivered.
An Assistant State's Attorney on October 11, 1974, wrote to the defendant indicating that a speedy trial could be obtained providing the provisions of the Agreement were satisfied. The letter directed the defendant's attention to section 3-8-9, article III, of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 1003-8-9, art. III) and noted that he had to be sentenced in California, his request must be accompanied by the proper certificates, and extradition must be waived.
Apparently heeding this advice, on February 14, 1975, six days after the defendant's conviction in California, the clerk of the circuit court received and filed two letters from the defendant. The cover letter requested the clerk to file as a "legal document" and attached letter addressed to the Madison County State's Attorney's Office. In the attached letter, the defendant acknowledged the State's Attorney's letter of October 11, 1974, and attempted to comply with the provisions of the Agreement by making a demand for a speedy trial and waiving the "right to fight extradition." The defendant also requested that if his letter did not satisfy the Agreement's requirements would he please be so notified as promptly as possible. Copies of these letters were never received by the State's Attorney's Office.
On May 14, 1975, again attempting to comply with the Agreement, the defendant sent to the circuit clerk a "Request for Disposition of Indictments, Informations, or Complaints." The "Request" contained references to the Agreement, in which the defendant demanded a speedy trial, waived extradition, and consented to the production of his body wherever necessary in order to effectuate the purposes of the Agreement. A copy of this letter was never received by the State's Attorney's office.
On August 6, 1975, the circuit clerk filed a "Notice of Place of Imprisonment and Request for Disposition of Indictments" together with an offer to deliver temporary custody of the defendant and a certificate of inmate status. Both the offer and the certificate were signed by the San Quentin California State Prison Records Officer. The State's Attorney's office received copies of these documents, and shortly thereafter the defendant was returned to Madison County.
The defendant was arraigned in the Circuit Court of Madison County, September 10, 1975, pleading not guilty to both counts of the indictment. The defendant filed a petition for discharge on September 24, 1975, arguing his right to a speedy trial was denied due to the State's failure to bring him to trial within the statutory period after he had formally complied with the Agreement. *fn1 The trial court, ruling on this petition, dismissed the indictment holding that the defendant's letter of February 14, 1975, was sufficient notice to Madison County authorities to activate the 180-day dismissal sanction provided under the Agreement.
• 1 No judicial interpretations of the Agreement have been made before in Illinois. Therefore, in construing the statute we must look for guidance from its plain language as well as from precedents of other jurisdictions. Before considering the merits of the case, the background and context of the Agreement are outlined to assist in its understanding.
• 2 The Agreement had been adopted by 28 States before Congress in 1970 adopted it as Federal law. Since then, the District of Columbia and all of the remaining States with the exception of Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, and Oklahoma have adopted the Agreement. The Agreement was enacted to promote expeditious and orderly disposition of outstanding charges against a prisoner and to determine the status of detainers lodged against prisoners in party State institutions. (Rockmore v. State, 21 Ariz. App. 388, 519 P.2d 877 (1974); Baker v. Schubin, 72 Misc.2d 413, 339 N.Y.S.2d 360 (1972); Hoss v. State, 13 Md. App. 404, 283 A.2d 629 (1971), rev'd, 266 Md. 136, 292 A.2d 48 (1972).) A primary reason for the Agreement was to remedy an unfortunate situation caused by States lodging detainers against prisoners and then waiting until their release before instituting action upon the indictments. The necessary result of this practice severely impeded potential rehabilitation for those prisoners laboring under the threat of untried indictments who never knew when, if ever, detaining jurisdictions would cease to toss him from one jurisdiction to another. State v. Wood, 241 N.W.2d 8 (Iowa 1976); United States ex rel. Esola v. Groomes (3d Cir. 1975), 520 F.2d 830. *fn2
• 3 Upon receipt by the proper authorities of the prisoner's request for final disposition of any outstanding detainers, article III of the Agreement forces those jurisdictions who lodged the detainer to bring the prisoner to trial within 180 days or to be barred permanently. (Commonwealth v. Fisher, 451 Pa. 102, 301 A.2d 605 (1973).) The rationale behind the 180-day statutory period is stated in State v. Lippolis, 101 N.J. Super. 435, 244 A.2d 531 (1968), aff'd, 107 N.J. Super. 137, 257 A.2d 705 (1969), rev'd on other grounds, 55 N.J. 354, 262 A.2d 203 (1970):
"It is appropriate to remind ourselves of the serious disavantages of prisoners serving a term in one state but under detainer for untried indictments of another. * * * The Legislature adopted the dismissal sanction not because a prisoner would be prejudiced at trial if trial were delayed more than 180 days after demand but because such a sanction for failure to try defendant within a fixed, reasonable period of time after demand, was regarded as essential to produce general compliance with the statutory mandate. The sanction is a prophylactic measure to induce compliance in the generality of cases." (107 N.J. Super. 137, 144-45, 257 A.2d 705, 709-10.)
Strict compliance with the 180-day sanction creates no intolerable hardship for prosecutors for they may, under proper circumstances, make requests for continuances. Absent a continuance, the mandatory language of the statute requires dismissal with prejudice once the 180-day period has expired without trial. State v. Mason, 90 N.J. Super. 464, 218 A.2d 158 (1966).
The machinery of the statute may be activated by either the State or a prisoner. (Hystad v. Rhay, 533 P.2d 409 (Wash. App. 1975); State v. Brockington, 89 N.J. Super. 423, 215 A.2d 362 (1965).) Article III(a) allows the prisoner to initiate the request for final disposition on untried indictments, informations or complaints which form ...