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Defendant Arraigned on a Fugitive from Justice Complaint


The Facts:

On 20 May 2009, defendant was arraigned on a fugitive from justice complaint based on an arrest warrant issued on 11 May 2009, Delaware County of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The arrest warrant charged the defendant with the following felonies: one count of Criminal Solicitation, two counts of Criminal Solicitation and one count of Criminal Use of a Communication Facility, all of which were allegedly committed on 2 October 2008.

On 27 October 2009, defendant sought to withdraw the Waiver of Governor’s Warrant of Extradition and Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Waiver of Extradition”) executed by him on his arraignment as a fugitive of justice from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on 20 May 2009.

The court granted the defendant’s request to withdraw his waiver of extradition and, at the People’s request, stayed its order and heard additional argument and reviewed memoranda of law submitted by each party. However, on 14 December 2009, the court, in consideration of the arguments and papers presented by each party, issued a short form written order which vacated its prior order that granted the defendant’s request to withdraw his waiver of extradition and denied the same.

The Ruling:

The court finds that the defendant does not and could not contend that the waiver of extradition he executed was done so in an unknowing, uninformed, unintelligently and involuntary or defective manner. Based upon the official transcript of defendant’s arraignment, the arraignment judge advised the defendant of the following: that Pennsylvania has issued a warrant for the defendant on the charges of criminal solicitation and criminal use of a communication facility; that counsel has been retained; that he has the right to the issuance and service of a Governor’s Warrant for his return to Pennsylvania; that he has the right to file a writ of habeas corpus to contest the legality of his arrest and detention in New York; and that he may waive these rights and agree to voluntarily return to Pennsylvania. A Bronx Criminal Lawyer said the arraignment judge asked the defendant whether he had discussed this matter with his attorney, whether by signing the waiver he has agreed to waive his right to the service of the Governor’s Warrant and to file a writ of habeas corpus and he has agreed to voluntarily return to Pennsylvania. The defendant replied in the affirmative to all of the judge’s questions.

As a result, by executing the waiver of extradition in open court, the court finds the defendant has conceded all of the factual issues that could be raised by filing a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus following the issuance of a Governor’s Warrant of Extradition, to wit: that he is the person named in the extradition request; that he is a fugitive from the demanding state; that he is charged with a crime in the demanding state; and the extradition documents, the warrant of arrest, is in order and valid. The defendant’s waiver of extradition was executed in conformity with the law, that is, in a voluntary, knowing and intelligent manner. Therefore, the extradition process was completed.

On the defendant’s contention that he has an absolute or discretionary right to rescind a properly executed wavier of extradition, the court disagrees. Preliminarily, such an interpretation would render meaningless any waiver of extradition and oblige the prosecutorial authorities in the asylum state to secure a Governor’s Warrant of Extradition in every case notwithstanding properly executed waivers of extradition in order to protect the interests of the demanding state. The defendant, by properly executing a waiver of extradition, has conceded facts fundamental to the extradition process that otherwise could be challenged by filing a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The defendant’s concession of facts essential to his extradition finalized the extradition process and is hardly procedural in nature, as the defendant contends. The cases relied upon the defendant where the waivers that were the subject of the recession, i.e., to a jury trial, a defendant’s right to be present at sidebar conferences, the revocation of a waiver to testify before a grand jury prior to the filing of an indictment, or the revocation of a waiver to a speedy trial, did not implicate facts previously conceded. In the cases relied upon, there was no finality to the proceeding unlike in the case at bar.

The words of the waiver of extradition itself clearly stated that the defendant acknowledged the waiver of his right to the issuance and service of a Governor’s Warrant, to the waiver of his right to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, and to all other procedures incidental to extradition. Moreover, by signing the waiver of extradition, the defendant was advised that he would be in the same position as if a Governor’s Warrant had been issued against him and that he would not be returned to the demanding state until such time as any open criminal matters pending within New York State were resolved. Therefore, the waiver of extradition and the proceedings attendant thereto put defendant on notice that the rights he waived were not revocable absent a showing that he waived such rights involuntarily, unknowingly, unintelligently and in the absence of counsel.

Defendant’s position that he has an absolute or discretionary right to withdraw a waiver of extradition is inconsistent and clearly at odds with the purpose of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the defendant’s argument, provocative in the first instance, is bereft of merit. As the court has ruled in a similar case, the clear intent embodied in the extradition clause of the Federal Constitution and in New York’s statute implementing the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act is that the law be liberally construed so as to facilitate extradition. Extradition contemplates the prompt return of a fugitive to the demanding state. The proceedings incidental to extradition are summary in nature and the statutory provisions relating to interstate extradition are to be liberally construed to effectuate their purpose.

Here, defendant executed the waiver of extradition on 20 May 2009, more than five months before he moved to withdraw. Therefore, the court, the prosecutor and the local and federal authorities in Pennsylvania and the Eastern District of New York, having no notice of the defendant’s qualified and limited wavier of extradition, had every reason to believe the extradition process was completed. A New York Criminal Lawyer said that although the defendant contends that he executed his waiver of extradition with the belief that such waiver would facilitate an agreement between the federal authorities and the authorities in New York and Pennsylvania to settle all of his criminal matters, the record of the proceedings of his arraignment on the fugitive from justice complaint gives no indication that the defendant’s decision to waive extradition was premised on the hope of a favorable plea outcome. The fact that the defendant is unhappy with what the prosecutorial authorities offered to resolve all matters pending in the various jurisdictions does not constitute a fair or just reason to upset settled factual matters regarding his extradition to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The court believes society has as strong an interest in the finality of waivers of extradition as it does in the finality of guilty pleas, and allowing withdrawals of properly executed waivers of extradition not only undermines confidence in the integrity of our judicial procedures, but also increases the volume of judicial work and delays and impairs the orderly administration of justice.

In sum, the defendant’s request to withdraw his waiver of extradition is denied.

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