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Intrastate Detainer Act, § 971.11 — Violation of Right to Speedy Disposition — Discretion to Dismiss with Prejudice as Remedy

State v. Christopher Lee Davis, 2001 WI 136, reversing 2001 WI App 61
For Davis: Jane Krueger Smith

Issue1: Whether a circuit has discretion to dismiss a case with prejudice under § 971.11(7), for failure of the state to bring it on for trial within the 120-day period set by § 971.11(2).


¶14. We agree with the court of appeals that ‘the legislature has left the matter up to the courts to exercise its [sic] discretion to dismiss with prejudice in a proper case lest the statute have no meaning at all.’ This interpretation of Wis. Stat. § 971.11(7) granting a circuit court the discretion to dismiss a criminal case with or without prejudice best serves the legislative purposes: First, this interpretation comports with the legislature’s goal to prevent ‘the potential injustices resulting from the practice of filing detainers.’ Second, it comports with the legislature’s objective to give an inmate ‘a greater degree of knowledge about his [or her] future [so that he or she] could begin more constructive planning and co-operate on a treatment program with the knowledge his [or her] efforts would not be minimized by the threat of unsatisfied charges.’ Third, it comports with the ‘legislative intent to provide the operation of a speedier disposition for inmates than for others charged with crimes.’ Fourth, it comports with the legislative purpose to prevent the State from repeatedly dismissing and refiling a criminal case after a dismissal without prejudice, rendering the 120-day time period set forth in § 971.11(2) a nullity. ‘The proper control of continued refiling of charges by the State is the authority of the courts to dismiss with prejudice.’ We further agree with the court of appeals that to interpret § 971.11(7) as requiring dismissal of a criminal case only without prejudice would deprive an inmate of prompt disposition of the case, which is the very purpose of § 971.11.

Issue2: Whether the trial court properly exercised discretion in dismissing the case with prejudice.

Holding: An exercise of discretion under § 971.11(7) should weigh various factors. ¶29. In this case, the circuit court believed that dismissal with prejudice was necessary as a matter of law; because this reasoning was not a proper exercise of discretion, the matter is remanded for such a determination. ¶¶33-34.For factors relevant to whether to dismiss with(out) prejudice for an Interstate Detainer Act violation, see U.S. v. Kelley, 402 F. 3d 39 (1st Cir. 2005) (“among others, each of the following factors: The seriousness of the offense; the facts and circumstances of the case which led to the dismissal; and the impact of a reprosecution on the administration of the agreement on detainers and on the administration of justice . . . .”).


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