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U.S. Supreme Court

Appleyard v. Massachusetts, 203 U.S. 222 (1906)

Appleyard v. Massachusetts

No. 115

Submitted November 16, 1906

Decided December 3, 1906

203 U.S. 222


The constitutional provision relating to fugitives from justice is in the nature of a treaty stipulation entered into for the purpose of securing a prompt and efficient administration of the criminal laws of the several states, and its faithful and vigorous enforcement is vital to their harmony and welfare, and while a state should protect its people against illegal action, federal courts should be equally careful that the provision be not so narrowly interpreted as to enable those who have offended the laws of one state to find a permanent asylum in another.

A person charged by indictment or affidavit before a magistrate within a state with the commission of a crime covered by its laws and who leaves the state, no matter for what purpose nor under what belief, becomes

Page 203 U. S. 223

from the time of such leaving and within the meaning of the Constitution and laws of the United States, a fugitive from justice, and in the absence of preponderating or conceded evidence of absence from the demanding state when the crime was committed, it is the duty of the other state to surrender the fugitive on the production of the indictment or affidavit properly authenticated.

Although regularly one seeking relief by habeas corpus in the state courts should prosecute his appeal to, or writ of error from, the highest state court before invoking the jurisdiction of the circuit court on habeas corpus, where the case is one of which the public interest demands a speedy determination, and the ends of justice will be promoted thereby, this Court may proceed to final judgment on appeal from the order of the circuit court denying the relief.

The appellant was indicted in the Supreme Court of New York, County of Erie, for the crime of grand larceny, first degree, alleged to have been committed in that county on the eighteenth day of May, 1904.

Upon that indictment a warrant of arrest was issued, but the accused was not arrested, for the reason that he was not found within the state.

Then the District Attorney of Erie County applied to the Governor of New York for a requisition upon the Governor of Massachusetts for Appleyard as a fugitive from justice. The application was based upon the above indictment and numerous accompanying affidavits, stating, among other things, that the accused was then in Massachusetts. A requisition was accordingly made upon the Governor of that commonwealth for the apprehension of Appleyard, and his delivery to a named agent of New York, who was authorized to receive and convey him to the latter state, to be there dealt with according to law. With that requisition went properly authenticated copies of all the papers which had been submitted to the Governor of New York by the District Attorney of Erie County.

The Governor of Massachusetts received the requisition, and, pursuant to the statutes of that commonwealth, referred it to the Attorney General for examination and report. Giving the accused full opportunity to be heard and to introduce

Page 203 U. S. 224

evidence, of which he availed himself, that officer examined the case and reported that the requisition was in regular and proper form and that there was no sufficient reason why it should not be honored. The Governor thereupon issued a warrant for the arrest of Appleyard and his delivery to the agent of New York, to be taken to that state, the officer who should execute the warrant being required to give the accused such opportunity to sue out a writ of habeas corpus as was prescribed by the laws of Massachusetts in such cases. Appleyard, having been arrested, applied for a writ of habeas corpus to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. This fact is stated in the return of the officer holding the accused, and is not denied. That court, after hearing an argument, denied the application, and remanded the petitioner to the custody of the agent of New York, to be held in accordance with the warrant issued by the Governor of Massachusetts.

The accused then applied to the circuit court of the United States for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the warrant of the Governor of Massachusetts and the order for his delivery to the agent of New York were issued without authority of law, and contrary to the Constitution and laws, as well of the United States as of Massachusetts, and

"especially contrary to Section 2, Article IV, of the Constitution of the United States and of § 5278 of the Revised Statutes of the United States in that your petitioner is not a fugitive from justice."

The writ was issued and a return was made of the above facts.

At the hearing in the circuit court, the accused requested a ruling that, on the evidence, it did not appear that, within the meaning of the Constitution and laws of the United States, he was a fugitive from justice, and also that he should be discharged from custody unless it appeared positively, by a preponderance of proof, that he "consciously fled from justice when he left the State of New York." Those requests were denied. But the court granted a request that the finding by the Governor of Massachusetts as a fact that the accused was a fugitive from justice was not conclusive. The court refused

Page 203 U. S. 225

to find as facts that the acts of Appleyard did not constitute a crime under the laws of New York; that no crime was committed by him in that state, and that Appleyard was not in New York on May eighteenth, 1904, the date of the alleged crime. It consequently discharged the writ of habeas corpus. From that order the present appeal was prosecuted.

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