Argued: October 30, 2019
Appeals from the United States District Court for the
District of South Carolina, at Spartanburg. Timothy M. Cain,
District Judge. (7:17-cr-00094-TMC-4)
W. Anderson III, LAW OFFICE OF HOWARD W. ANDERSON III, LLC,
Pendleton, South Carolina, for Appellants.
Kathleen Michelle Stoughton, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES
ATTORNEY, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.
Carlyle Steele, LAW OFFICE OF C. CARLYLE STEELE, Greenville,
South Carolina, for Appellant Sok Bun.
A. Lydon, United States Attorney, Brook Bowers Andrews,
Assistant United States Attorney, Robert Frank Daley, Jr.,
Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES
ATTORNEY, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.
WILKINSON, MOTZ, and FLOYD Circuit Judges.
by published opinion. Judge Wilkinson wrote the opinion, in
which Judge Motz and Judge Floyd joined.
WILKINSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE
case arises from the prosecution of two state inmates who
were federally indicted for coordinating a methamphetamine
distribution ring from prison. The overarching prosecution
spanned three separate indictments; ensnared 15 other
co-conspirators; and spawned some 50, 000 pages of discovery.
At the end of it, James Peterson and Sok Bun were tried
together and found guilty. On appeal, they raise numerous
claims, some jointly and others individually. One claim rises
above the rest: They argue that the district court should
have dismissed their initial indictment with prejudice
because they were improperly transferred from federal to
state custody in violation of the Interstate Agreement on
Detainers Act (IADA). We disagree. The district court did not
abuse its discretion in dismissing the indictment without
prejudice, having carefully weighed the relevant set of
non-exclusive factors set out in the IADA. Finding
defendants' remaining five claims without merit, we
affirm the district court's judgment.
September 14, 2016, Peterson and Bun, already inmates in the
South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), were
indicted on a series of federal offenses for participating in
a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy while they were in
prison. On September 25-29, 2017, the two were tried in
connection with their involvement in this scheme. In those
intervening twelve months, a litany of motions and procedural
wrinkles bogged down the prosecution's pace, the details
of which the parties continue to debate. For purposes of this
appeal, there are three key points to follow.
the parties disagreed extensively over where Peterson and Bun
should have been held, consistent with federal law, in the
leadup to their federal trial. Recall that defendants were
indicted when they were already serving sentences in South
Carolina state prison. This is important because the
Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act generally requires an
indicting jurisdiction (here, the federal government) to
retain custody, once a detainer is filed, of a prisoner until
disposing of his charges. 18 U.S.C. app. 2, § 2, art.
IV(e). This dictate is often referred to as the IADA's
"anti-shuttling" provision. And here, on two
occasions in November 2016, at least one defendant was
transferred from federal custody to state detention
facilities. See J.A. 274, 338. In particular, on
November 30, 2016, Peterson was transferred from federal to
state custody under circumstances that, as all parties now
agree, were in violation of the IADA's anti-shuttling
provision. See J.A. 331.
December 2016, defendants tried to have the charges against
them dismissed with prejudice on the ground that the
government violated the IADA by improperly transferring them
from federal to state custody. They argued that the federal
government had regularly violated the IADA in the District of
South Carolina and that its conduct here was particularly
egregious because it purportedly contravened a magistrate
judge's order directing Peterson to be held in federal
custody until the end of proceedings. The United States moved
to dismiss the indictment against both Peterson and Bun
without prejudice. For reasons explained below, the district
court decided that the IADA was violated only with respect to
one defendant (Peterson), but dismissed without prejudice as
to both. J.A. 338.
there were a series of disputes over whether defendants were
indicted properly and in a timely fashion. As noted,
defendants were initially indicted in September 2016. Two
other indictments followed. After the district court
dismissed the charges against Peterson and Bun without
prejudice under the IADA in January 2017, the government
re-indicted defendants on the same charges on February 15,
2017. They were formally arrested on February 24, 2017. Then,
on June 13, 2017, a grand jury returned a superseding
indictment that added two new co-defendants but alleged the
same substantive charges.
attempted to dismiss each of these indictments. They argued
that the reindictment should be dismissed because the federal
government violated the IADA's requirement that
defendants be brought to trial within 120 days of being
transferred to federal custody once a detainer is filed. In
addition, they claimed that the superseding indictment should
be dismissed because it was filed too late under the Speedy
Trial Act (STA). For reasons discussed below, the district
court rejected both these claims in June and July 2017.
Before trial, the court also granted three continuances, two
of them over the objection of defendants.
there were a few issues relating to the trial itself. As
noted, defendants were eventually tried starting on September
25, 2017. After a four-day jury trial, Peterson and Bun were
found guilty of all offenses. The district court sentenced
Peterson to 330 months imprisonment and 5 years of supervised
release, consecutive to the thirty-five year state sentence
he was serving. Bun was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment
and 5 years of supervised release, also consecutive to his
state sentence of life in prison. Peterson alone challenges
several evidentiary rulings made by the trial court.
address the joint claims first-that is, the claims involving
the IADA's anti- shuttling provision, the Speedy Trial
Act, and the IADA's speedy trial rights-and then turn to
the individual ...