Argued: October 11, 2018
J. MacDonald, attorney general (Stephen D. Fuller, senior
assistant attorney general, on the memorandum of law and
orally), for the State.
S. Wolpin, assistant appellate defender, of Concord, on the
brief and orally, for the defendant.
defendant, Hjalmar Bjorkman, appeals his conviction following
a jury trial in the Superior Court (MacLeod, J.) on
one count of using computer services for a prohibited
purpose, see RSA 649-B:4, I(a) (2016). The defendant
challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to
dismiss, contending that jury selection does not fulfill the
requirement under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD)
that a defendant be "brought to trial" within 180
days of filing a request for final disposition. We affirm.
following facts are derived from the record. While being held
at a correctional facility in Vermont on an unrelated matter,
the defendant was indicted in New Hampshire on the charge
that forms the basis of this appeal. After learning of the
indictment, the defendant filed a "request for final
disposition" under the IAD. See RSA 606-A:1,
III(a) (2001). This request was received by the State on
January 17, 2017.
selection for the defendant's trial was held on July 10,
2017, within 180 days from the court's receipt of the
defendant's request for disposition. Eight days later,
the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that his
case had not been "brought to trial" within the
time period required by the IAD, which he stated had lapsed
the day before, on July 17. The State objected, contending,
among other things, that jury selection amounted to being
"brought to trial" within the meaning of the IAD.
On July 21, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on the
motion. At the hearing, the defendant asserted that "the
commencement of trial occurs" after jury selection,
"when the case is called, the [d]efendant is brought
before the court, the jury is . . . sworn, and the case
trial court issued an oral decision on the defendant's
motion to dismiss, ruling "as a matter of law that the
trial began . . . at the time of jury selection," which
the court deemed a "critical stage" in the trial.
The court explained that at jury selection, counsel for both
parties "engaged in direct attorney conducted voir
dire with the jury," wherein they raised
anticipated issues for trial. The court also noted that once
a jury has been empaneled, a defendant no longer has the
right to proceed with a bench trial. In so ruling, the trial
court relied on federal case law interpreting the Speedy
Trial Act (STA), see 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161
et seq. (2012), reasoning that the IAD is
"intertwined" with the constitutional right to a
speedy trial, and that for purposes of the STA "a jury
trial commences . . . when the court begins voir
dire." The court also distinguished IAD cases from
those involving double jeopardy, explaining that the two
categories encompass "different legal concepts" and
seek "to address different issues of protection for the
[d]efendant." Finally, the trial court stated that
"as a practical matter," voir dire in
complex cases could "go on for days, perhaps a week or
more," making it "difficult" to comply with
the defendant's interpretation of the IAD.
his conviction, the defendant asked the trial court to
reconsider its denial of his motion to dismiss. The defendant
argued that "the [c]ourt's reliance on federal case
law construing the [STA] was misplaced" because the STA
uses different terminology and has different legislative
intent than the IAD. The trial court denied the
defendant's motion to reconsider, and this appeal
denial of the defendant's motion to dismiss an indictment
under the IAD presents a question of law, which we review
de novo. State v. Nelson, 161 N.H. 58, 61
(2010). As a congressionally sanctioned interstate compact,
the IAD is a federal law subject to federal construction.
State v. Sprague, 146 N.H. 334, 336 (2001).
IAD is a compact entered into by 48 States, the United
States, and the District of Columbia to establish procedures
for resolution of one State's outstanding charges against
a prisoner of another State." State v. Brown,
157 N.H. 555, 557 (2008) (quotation omitted). Under Article
III of the IAD, a person imprisoned in a party state who has
a detainer lodged against him in another party state
"may file a request for a final disposition to be made
of the indictment, information, or complaint."
Id. (quotation omitted). The statute mandates that
the prisoner "shall be brought to trial within
180 days" of receipt of this request by "the
prosecuting officer and the appropriate court." RSA
606-A:1, III(a) (emphasis added); see Brown, 157
N.H. at 557. In the absence of a waiver,  the
defendant's inability to stand trial, or a proper
continuance, the pending charges must be dismissed with
prejudice if a prisoner is not brought to trial within the
prescribed time period. State v. Dolbeare, 140 N.H.
84, 86 (1995). The burden of showing compliance with the IAD
is upon the State. Brown, 157 N.H. at 558.
parties agree that January 17, 2017 serves as the
commencement date of the 180-day time limit. Therefore, the
only issue before us is whether the defendant was
"brought to trial" for purposes of the IAD when the
jury was selected on July 10, 2017. We hold that he was. The
defendant asserts that the phrase "brought to
trial" for purposes of the IAD refers to the proceedings
that follow jury selection which involve "the calling of
witness[es], the hearing of evidence, and the resolution of
the controversy in question." We disagree.
the phrase "brought to trial" is not defined in the
IAD, the legislature set forth the statute's purpose in
The party states find that charges outstanding against a
prisoner, detainers based on untried indictments,
informations or complaints, and difficulties in securing
speedy trial of persons already incarcerated in
other jurisdictions, produce uncertainties which obstruct
programs of prisoner treatment and rehabilitation.
Accordingly, it is the policy of the party states and the
purpose of this agreement to encourage the expeditious and