Based on an article about a guy accused of murder in Florida, but who has fled to Georgia.
In my understanding, they have to get a warrant for extradition from the governor.
Has anyone ever successfully fought extradition? I assume they would have a hearing of some sort. What would they be trying to prove or disprove at such a hearing?
If the place you’re fleeing kills people for what you did, fight extradition.
If the place you’re incarcerated kills people for what you did, and somewhere else wants you for a crime for which they don’t kill people, don’t fight extradition.
If killing is off the table, you might want to go or stay put based on prison conditions, proximity to family, predominance of your particular gang in the facility, or a host of other mundane concerns.
You have to pay additional attorney’s fees to fight extradition, and you are not going to win in the end, anyway. If you don’t fight extradition, there is likely to be a more favorable plea-bargain for you. The traditional pattern in US criminal justice is, the more trouble you put the court through, the longer your sentence. Just asking for a trial is virtually guaranteed to at least double the length of your sentence when you are convicted, which you will be.
There are very few grounds upon which to successfully fight extradition between states of the United States. And – unfortunately – the fact that the requesting state has the death penalty is not one.
You can fight extradition by showing that you are not the person named in the extradition warrant, that the conduct described in the extradition warrant is not a crime, or that the requesting state does not have jurisdiction over you.
However, if it takes a long time for the case to reach a jury, the odds favor the defendant. Evidence gets lost, eyewitnesses forget what they saw or even die, etc. The best defense attorneys will always try and drag out a case as long as possible, just because time is never on the prosecutor’s side.
And I think class, color & criminal history play a much more major role in how badly the courts treat you. (Not that I’ve known many people in that situation, but I do watch a lot of TV…)
Robert E. Burns famously was not extradited from New Jersey to Georgia. Public opinion was against sending him back to the chain gang there. I am not really sure what rationale New Jersey gave in the hearings though.
During the 70s and early 80s, California Gov. Jerry Brown refused to extradite American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks to South Dakota to face charges of inciting a riot and assault. Banks claimed he risked being assassinated if he returned to South Dakota. Brown sided with him, based on inflammatory statements made by SD’s then-Attorney General William Janklow. (Such as Janklow saying the state needed to confront AIM with a show of force, adding ‘Put a bullet in a guy’s head, and he won’t bother you anymore.’)
Could/would the Governor of a liberal state without capital punishment and who is himself vehemently opposed to the death penalty reject as a matter of principle all extradition requests concerning (accused) murderers from states like Texas?
This would effectively turn this state into a save haven for murderers from death penalty states, wouldn’t it?
Jerry Brown got away with it, yes, because at the time, the law of the land was Kentucky v. Dennison, a then-hundred year old Supreme Court case that confusingly held that even though a state governor’s duty to extradite under federal law was indeed mandatory, there was no mechanism under federal judicial law to compel performance if the governor failed to comply. (A California Supreme Court case similarly decided that California law also required the governor to extradite but could not actually make him act.)
That changed in 1987. A man accused of repeatedly running over a pregnant woman fled Puerto Rico to Iowa, and claimed he could not get a fair trial as a white man in Puerto Rico. After Iowa refused to extradite him, Puerto Rico took the matter to the federal courts, and the Supreme Court explicitly overruled Dennison and held that federal courts have the power under 18 U. S. C. § 3182 (the federal Extradition Act) to compel extradition. Puerto Rico v. Branstad, 483 U.S. 219.
One exception: a governor’s discretion as to granting extradition remains viable when the fugitive in question is already is incarcerated in the sending state for a violation of that state’s laws. So I suppose that the governor of a liberal state could decide to keep a criminal serving his full sentence before giving him up to Texas, but that’s the extent of dodging extradition by a state’s governor permitted today.