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Santos v. Russo

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 19, 2016

LOIS RUSSO, Respondent.

          Richardo Santos, Petitioner, Pro Se.

          Acting Superintenden Lois Russo, Respondent, represented by Thomas E. Bocian, Office of the Attorney General.


          JUDITH GAIL DEIN, Magistrate Judge.


         The petitioner, Richard Santos, is presently incarcerated at MCI-Concord. He has filed a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the alleged failure of the Massachusetts Department of Correction to process his request under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD") to dispose of a pending probation violation matter in Rhode Island. This matter is presently before the court on the respondent's unopposed motion to dismiss the petition.[1] Because the IAD does not apply to probation violation matters, and because the petitioner cites no other grounds for his habeas petition, this court recommends to the District Judge to whom this case is assigned that respondent's motion to dismiss (Docket No. 10) be ALLOWED.


         On July 12, 2006, Santos pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, to two counts of larceny from a building, three counts of larceny in excess of $250, three counts of improper use of a credit card, and one count of possession of burglarious instruments. App. at 4. He was sentenced to six concurrent two-year terms of imprisonment, to be followed by a five-year term of probation. App. at 4-5. As part of his probation, Santos was also ordered to receive mental health counseling and treatment, and to make restitution payments. App. at 5. In September 2010, Suffolk County took over Santos' probation super-vision. App. at 5, 9.

         Santos was twice found to be in violation of his terms of probation and, in June -, he was sentenced to three concurrent terms of three-to-five years of imprisonment at MCI-Cedar Junction for these violations. App. at 11. He is now incarcerated at MCI-Concord.

         Santos claims he has an outstanding legal matter in Rhode Island and that, in order to try and resolve it, he submitted a petition or request for disposition to initiate procedures under the IAD. Habeas Pet. (Docket No. 1) at 7. However, Santos contends that neither Massachusetts nor Rhode Island would process his request until he finished his sentence in Massachusetts. Habeas Pet. at 8. The respondent has determined that the Rhode Island matter to which Santos is referring is an outstanding warrant issued by the Rhode Island Superior Court on May 8, 2012, charging him with a probation violation arising out of crimes committed in that state. App. at 13-16; Resp. Mem. (Docket No. 11) at 4 & n.6.

         Santos filed a pro se habeas petition, nominally pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, in which he named the State of Rhode Island as the respondent. Docket No. 1. By order dated September 11, 2015, this court (1) sua sponte substituted Lois Russo, the acting superintendent of MCI-Concord, as the respondent; (2) noted that IAD challenges are properly raised pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and (3) ordered service on the newly named respondent. The respondent has moved to dismiss the petition on the grounds that it does not name the proper respondent in that it should have been filed in Rhode Island, the IAD does not apply to probation violations, Santos has not alleged a fundamental defect resulting in a complete miscarriage of justice - the standard for habeas actions raising non-constitutional federal claims, [3] and because Santos has not exhausted his claim in state court. Since the law is clearly established that the IAD does not apply to probation revocations, this court does not need to reach the other bases for the motion to dismiss.

         III. ANALYSIS

         The IAD is a compact among 48 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the United States. See Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716, 719, 105 S.Ct. 3401, 3403, 87 L.Ed.2d 516 (1985).[4] It is "a federal law subject to federal construction." Id . The purpose of the IAD is "to encourage the expeditious and orderly disposition of outstanding charges and determination of the proper status of any and all detainers based on untried indictments, informations or complaints." Id . (quoting IAD Art. 1) (internal punctuation omitted). As the Supreme Court has explained:

To achieve this purpose, Art. III of the Agreement establishes a procedure by which a prisoner incarcerated in one party State (the sending State) may demand the speedy disposition of "any untried indictment, information or complaint on the basis of which a detainer has been lodged against the prisoner" by another party State (the receiving State). Specifically, Art. III requires the warden to inform the prisoner that a detainer has been lodged against him and that he may request final disposition of the indictment, information, or complaint upon which the detainer is based. If the prisoner makes such a request, the warden must forward it, together with a certificate providing certain information about the prisoner's terms of confinement, to the appropriate prosecuting official and court of the receiving State. The authorities in the receiving State then must ...

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