New York v. Hill

LOCATION: Florida State University

DOCKET NO.: 98-1299
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: New York Court of Appeals

CITATION: 528 US 110 (2000)
ARGUED: Nov 02, 1999
DECIDED: Jan 11, 2000

Brian Shiffrin - Rochester, New York, argued the cause for the respondent
Lisa S. Blatt - Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae supporting the petitioner and urging reversal
Robert Mastrocola - Rochester, New York, argued the cause for petitioner

Facts of the case

The Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD) is a congressionally sanctioned interstate compact to establish procedures for resolution of one state's outstanding charges against a prisoner of another state. Under the Compact Clause, the IAD is a federal law subject to federal construction. In order to resolve outstanding murder and robbery charges against Michael Hill, an Ohio prisoner, the State of New York lodged a detainer against him under the IAD. Hill filed a request for disposition of the detainer, pursuant to IAD Article III, and was returned to New York. Article III provides that, upon such a request, that the prisoner be brought to trial within 180 days. Thereafter, Hill's counsel agreed to a trial date outside the 180-day period. Subsequently, Hill moved to dismiss his indictment, arguing that the IAD's time limit had expired. The trial court denied Hill's motion, concluding that his defense counsel's explicit agreement to the trial date constituted a waiver or abandonment of Hill's IAD rights. After his conviction and subsequent appeal, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's refusal to dismiss. In reversing, the state Court of Appeals ordered that Hill's indictment be dismissed because his counsel's agreement to a later trial date, it held, did not waive his IAD speedy trial rights.


Does a defense counsel's agreement to a trial date outside the 180-day time period required by Article III of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers waive the defendant's right to a speedy trial?

Media for New York v. Hill

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 02, 1999 in New York v. Hill

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 11, 2000 in New York v. Hill

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the court number in 98-1299, New York against Hill will be announced by Justice Scalia.

Antonin Scalia:

This case comes to us on certiorari from the New York Court of Appeals.

A multi-state compact called the Interstate Agreement on Detainers permits a state agency which intends to file criminal charges against an individual serving a sentence in another state to lodge what is called a detainer against the prisoner.

This is simply a request to the institution in which the prisoner is housed, hold the prisoner for the out of state agency or notify that agency when the prisoner’s release is eminent.

The IAD provides that if a prisoner against whom a detainer has been lodged files a so called request for final disposition, he must be brought to trial on the charges giving rise to the detainer within 180 days and if that time limit is not observed, the charges must be dismissed with prejudice.

Here the petitioner, New York State, lodged a detainer against respondent Hill, an Ohio prisoner.

Hill filed a request for final disposition and was returned to New York to face robbery and murder charges.

When prosecution and defense counsel met with the court to set a trial date, Hill’s attorney agreed to a date outside the 180-day period.

After the 180-day period had expired, Hill moved to dismiss the indictment.

Although the Trial Court and the New York Appellate Division concluded that counsel’s agreement to the later date waived the IAD’s time limits, the New York Court of Appeals found no waiver and accordingly reversed the respondent’s convictions and ordered the charges dismissed with prejudice.

We reverse.

Although the IAD does not expressly discuss waiver of the rights that it confers the availability of waiver is generally presumed, absent affirmative indication to the contrary, which is not present here.

We conclude that defense counsel’s agreement to the trial date is adequate to affect waiver without the necessity of obtaining the personal agreement of the defendant himself.

Only defense counsel can determine whether the defense would be ready to proceed earlier than the date suggested and requiring the defendant’s personal assent for routine scheduling matter such as this would consume time to know apparent purpose.

Respondent argues that because prompt resolution of detainers benefits not only the defendant but society generally, waiver cannot be allowed, but we have never suggested that any personal right which also benefits society is unwaivable, and such a suggestion would contradict some of our cases.

In validating the waiver because of society suppose interest in prompt resolution would be particularly inappropriate here given that the IAD’s time limits do not even apply unless the prisoner or the detaining state files a request for final disposition.

The New York Court of Appeals’ conclusion that there was no waiver was based on the fact that the defense did not “affirmatively request” an untimely trial date.

But nothing in the IAD suggests a distinction between waiver proposed and waiver agreed to.

In light of its potential for abuse and given the harsh remedy of dismissal with prejudice, we decline to adopt such a distinction and find a valid waiver here.

The Court’s opinion is unanimous.