State v. Tarrant – Case Brief Summary (Wisconsin)

In State v. Tarrant, 2009 WI App 121, 321 Wis. 2d 69, 772 N.W.2d 750 (Wis. Ct. App. 2009), the appealing prisoner invoked his rights under the IAD after Wisconsin filed an arrest warrant against him while he was serving a sentence in Kansas. Id. at 752.

Wisconsin then modified the warrant so that it would not operate as an interstate detainer. Id. When Tarrant later moved to dismiss the charges in Wisconsin for a violation of the IAD, the trial court concluded that the modification of the warrant rendered the IAD inapplicable. Id.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "once a prisoner has properly requested a prompt and final disposition of pending criminal charges, the only way the State can avoid its obligation to bring the prisoner to trial within 180 days of the request is to dismiss the untried complaint or information." Id. at 757.

The Tarrant Court explained:

We believe that the approach of the Colorado Court of Appeals best fulfills the principal purpose of the IAD and adopting that approach insures uniformity in interpretation of the IAD. See Estate of Matteson v. Matteson, 2008 WI 48, P42, 309 Wis. 2d 311, 749 N.W.2d 557 ("The purpose of uniform laws is to establish both uniformity of statutory law and uniformity of case law construing the statutes, ensuring certainty and guidance to litigants who rely on the courts to interpret uniform statutes in a predictable and consistent manner."). Under the Colorado interpretation of the IAD, the withdrawal of the detainer must be accompanied by the dismissal of the charges if the time limits of the IAD are to be avoided. This makes sense, because a prisoner who responds to the lodging of a detainer by filing an Inmate's Notice of Place of Imprisonment and Request for Disposition of Indictments, Informations or Complaints, accompanied by a warden's Certificate of Inmate Status, as provided for by WIS. STAT. § 976.05(3)(a), is demanding a prompt and final disposition of the underlying charges. A final disposition can only be achieved by a trial or dismissal of the charges. It is only after the charges "have gone away" that the prisoner is no longer exposed to the detrimental effects of pending criminal charges.

Applying the Colorado approach requires us to reverse Tarrant's conviction and dismiss the charges because he was not brought to trial within 180 days of his demand for a prompt and final disposition. It was not enough for the Green Lake county district attorney to modify the warrant to exclude the possibility of interstate extradition. Because the underlying criminal complaint was still pending, the basis for Tarrant's right to demand a speedy trial still existed. (Id. at 756-57.)