KER V. ILLINOIS, 119 U. S. 436 (1886)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ker v. Illinois, 119 U.S. 436 (1886)

Ker v. Illinois

Argued April 27, 1886

Decided December 6, 1886

119 U.S. 436


A plea to an indictment in a state court that the defendant has been brought from a foreign country to this country by proceedings which are a violation of a treaty between that country and the United states, and which are forbidden by that treaty, raises a question, if the right asserted by the plea is denied, on which this Court can review, by writ of error, the judgment of the state court.

But where the prisoner has been kidnapped in the foreign country and brought by force against his will within the jurisdiction of the state

Page 119 U. S. 437

whose law he has violated, with no reference to an extradition treaty, though one existed, and no proceeding or attempt to proceed under the treaty, this Court can give no relief, for these facts do not establish any right under the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

The treaties of extradition to which the United States are parties do not guarantee a fugitive from the justice of one of the countries an asylum in the other. They do not give such person any greater or more sacred right of asylum than he had before. They only make provision that for certain crimes, he shall be deprived of that asylum and surrendered to justice, and they prescribe the mode in which this shall be done.

The trespass of a kidnapper, unauthorized by either of the governments and not professing to act under authority of either, is not a case provided for in the treaty, and the remedy is by a proceeding against him by the government whose law he violates or by the party injured.

How far such forcible transfer of the defendant so as to bring him within the jurisdiction of the state where the offense was committed may be set up against the right to try him is the province of the state court to decide, and presents no question in which this Court can review its decision.

The plaintiff in error, being convicted of embezzlement in a state court of Illinois, sued out this writ of error. The federal question which makes the case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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