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Friday, January 18, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one Indiana decision today; ruling notes government's "win" is a tarnished one

In United States v. Randall Brewington (SD Ind., Judge McKinney), a 5-page opinion, Judge Evans writes:

In early 2006, while serving a state prison sentence in Indiana, Randall Brewington received word that he had been indicted on criminal charges in federal court. The notice he received was in a detainer filed against him by the United States Marshal. Upon its filing, Brewington tried to assert his rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), which would have required that he be brought to trial within 180 days of the receipt of his demand by the “prosecuting officer” and the “appropriate court.” The “prosecuting officer,” here the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, received Brewington’s demand, but for reasons not apparent in the record, the “appropriate court,” the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, never did. When Brewington was brought to court more than 180 days after the U.S. Attorney received his demand, he moved to dismiss the indictment, claiming a violation of his rights under the IAD. Because the district court had not received Brewington’s demand, his motion was denied. After losing out on his motion, Brewington entered a guilty plea to a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon but reserved his right to challenge on appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss. Brewington now appeals from the order denying his motion. * * *

In closing, we note that counsel for the government, when asked during oral argument why Brewington’s demand provoked no response, was unable to supply a clear answer. Perhaps, he said, it was because the responsibility for acting upon IAD demands is not vested in one person within his office but instead is “diffused.” And therein, we think, lies the problem. Although the government comes out of this case with a “win,” it’s a tarnished one. Its handling of Brewington’s demand under the IAD is nothing to be proud of.

For these reasons, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 18, 2008 10:44 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions