FACTOR V. LAUBENHEIMERL, 290 U. S. 276 (1933)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Factor v. Laubenheimerl, 290 U.S. 276 (1933)

Factor v. Laubenheimerl

No. 2

Argued April 18, 1933

Reargued October 9, 1933

Decided December 4, 1933.

290 U.S. 276


1. The legal right to demand the extradition of fugitives from justice, and the correlative duty to surrender, are not products of international law, but exist only when created by treaty. P. 290 U. S. 287.

2. Extradition treaties should be construed liberally in favor of rights of extradition claimed under them. P. 290 U. S. 292.

3. In ascertaining the meaning of a treaty, we may look beyond its written words to the negotiations and diplomatic correspondence of the contracting parties relating to the subject matter, and to their practical construction of it. P. 290 U. S. 294.

4. In resolving doubts, the construction of a treaty by the political department of the Government, while not conclusive upon the courts, is nevertheless of weight. P. 290 U. S. 295.

5. Article X of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, after stipulating for surrender of fugitives charged with certain specified offenses, contains a proviso that this shall only be done

"upon such evidence of criminality as, according to the laws of the place where the fugitive or person so charged shall be found, would justify his apprehension and commitment for trial if the crime or offence had there been committed. . . ."

Held that the proviso relates to procedure and proof, and is not a limitation upon the definition of the offenses for which extradition may be demanded. Pp. 290 U. S. 290-295.

6. Under Article X of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, supra, and the Blaine-Pauncefote Convention of 1889, with which it must be construed, the limitation confining extradition to acts that are criminal in both countries applies only to those offenses to which it is attached in the clauses specifying them. Pp. 290 U. S. 292-295.

7. Hence, for the act of receiving money knowing it to have been fraudulently obtained, which is specified in the Convention without that limitation, the fugitive is extraditable to England, where the act is a crime, even though it may not be such in the Illinois, where the fugitive in this case has sought refuge. Id.

8. The obligation to surrender in such cases, being imposed by the Treaty and Convention, and by the construction heretofore contended

Page 290 U. S. 277

for by our Government, is to be obeyed by the Government and its courts notwithstanding that a different construction of her obligation in like cases may have been adopted by England. P. 290 U. S. 298.

9. The surrender of a fugitive, duly charged in the country from which he has fled with an offense named by the treaty as one for which extradition may be had and one generally recognized as criminal at the place of asylum, involves no impairment of any legitimate public or private interest, and the obligation to do what some nations have done voluntarily, in the interest of justice and friendly international relations, should be construed more liberally than a criminal statute or the technical requirements of criminal procedure. P. 290 U. S. 298.

10. All of the offenses named in the two treaties above mentioned are not only denominated crimes by the treaties themselves, but are recognized as such by the jurisprudence of both countries. Even the crime here in question -- that of receiving money knowing it to have been fraudulently obtained -- is a crime under the laws of many of our States, if not in Illinois, punishable either as the crime of receiving money obtained fraudulently or by false pretenses, or as larceny. P. 290 U. S. 299.

11. The policy of our Government to name in its extradition treaties only those offenses which are generally recognized as criminal by the laws in force in its own territory affords no adequate basis for declining to construe such a treaty in accordance with its language, or for saying that its obligation, in the absence of some express requirement, is conditioned on the criminality of the offense charged according to the laws of the particular place of asylum. P. 290 U. S. 299.

12. Such a restriction on the obligation in the present case would restrict the reciprocal operation of the treaties, making the right to extradition from the United States vary with the State or Territory where the fugitive is found, although, under the Acts of Parliament giving the treaties effect, extradition may be had from Great Britain and her dependencies for all of the offenses named in the treaties. P. 290 U. S. 300.

13. In no case in this Court has extradition been denied because the offense charged was not also criminal by the laws of the place of refuge. Wright v. Henkel, 190 U. S. 41; Collins v. Loisel, 259 U. S. 309; Kelly v. Griffin, 241 U. S. 6, and Bingham v. Bradley, 241 U. S. 518, distinguished. P. 290 U. S. 301.

14. It is not necessary to determine in the present case the question whether the Dawes-Simon Extradition Treaty of 1932, having

Page 290 U. S. 278

been proclaimed by the President, is binding on the United States although not binding on Great Britain until proclaimed by an Order-in-Council. P. 290 U. S. 302.

15. The offense specified in the Dawes-Simon Treaty of receiving money knowing the same to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained covers the offense specified in the Blaine-Pauncefote Convention of receiving money knowing it to have been fraudulently obtained. P. 290 U. S. 303.

16. In the expression "receiving money knowing the same to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained," the meaning of the words "unlawfully obtained" is not restricted by the rule of ejusdem generis to unlawfulness of the same type as stealing; they indicate any form of criminal taking, whether or not embraced within the term larceny in its various connotations. P. 290 U. S. 303.

17. An extradition proceeding begun under one treaty is not abated by the promulgation of a second treaty superseding the first, when the second continues to specify the offense with which the fugitive is charged and does not purport to exclude from its operation offenses committed before its signature or promulgation. P. 290 U. S. 304.

18. A habeas corpus case involving the legality of an arrest for extradition does not abate or become moot upon the supplanting of the extradition treaty by another one when the obligation to surrender, originating in the one treaty, is continued without change of substance in the other. P. 290 U. S. 304.

61 F.2d 626 affirmed.

Certiorari, 289 U.S. 713, to review the reversal of a judgment discharging the petitioner in habeas corpus. Ordered for reargument, 289 U.S. 713.

Page 290 U. S. 286

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