Petitioner was charged under a governor’s warrant with being the South Carolina fugitive, who allegedly escaped from the Anderson South Carolina Stockade in 1976. The fugitive was serving a sentence of seven years for passing several bad checks and a probation violation from a prior grand larceny. Petitioner has lived continuously at the same address in Suffolk County, New York since 1983. He was married in 1987, helping to raise his wife’s three children from a prior marriage. He and his wife also had two children of their own in 1988 and 1992.
A Suffolk County Criminal lawyer said that in 1993, Petitioner was arrested on an extradition demand from South Carolina. As a result of information thereafter provided to then South Carolina Governor, the Governor chose not to pursue the extradition.
Twelve and a half years later in October, 2005, while returning from a vacation, Petitioner was arrested at JFK Airport on a computer entry of his being wanted in South Carolina. When the necessary paperwork was not filed within ninety (90) days, the resultant pending charge was dismissed in Criminal Court, Queens County 2006. Petitioner returned to his everyday life.
Thereafter, Petitioner was arrested at 11:15 PM in his home on a governor’s extradition warrant based upon a January 2006 Governor’s Requisition signed by South Carolina Governor arising out of the exact same facts and circumstances as the 1993 extradition proceedings. It is this arrest that gives rise to the present Suffolk County District Court docket number and this Writ.
A court considering a petition for habeas corpus in these circumstances “can do no more than decide (a) whether the extradition documents on their face are in order; (b) whether the petitioner has been charged with a crime in the demanding state; (c) whether the petitioner is the person named in the request for extradition; and (d) whether the petitioner is a fugitive.”
The court notes that petitioner has reserved his rights to contest whether he is, in fact, the person named in the request for extradition. Having noted that, this court finds that the right to demand extradition of the petitioner was waived by the actions of the then Governor of South Carolina in 1993. As a result of the actions of the highest executive officer of that state, petitioner ceased being a fugitive as of April 8, 1993. That official act should have been the end of the saga. Petitioner has not been a fugitive for over 13 years, and no act of a subsequent governor, however well-intentioned or whimsical, can resurrect petitioner’s status as a fugitive so as to make him eligible for extradition.
It should be clear that “once a fugitive, always a fugitive” is not a truism. Various events can lead to a fugitive ceasing to be a fugitive. A fugitive could voluntarily return to the demanding state and resolve their outstanding matters and they would no longer be a fugitive. A fugitive could be extradited to the demanding state and their matter concluded, and they would no longer be a fugitive. A fugitive could be pardoned or granted clemency in absentia, and they would no longer be a fugitive. In the case at bar, in 1993 when South Carolina, through the very clear, unambiguous, unequivocal, unchallenged actions of it’s governor, affirmatively stopped seeking the return of the petitioner, the fugitive ceased being a fugitive.
“A fugitive from justice is a person who is (1) suspected of or has been convicted of committing a crime; (2) sought by the jurisdiction so that the jurisdiction may subject the person to its criminal justice system, and (3) has left the jurisdiction and is found with the boundaries of another”. It is clear that in April 1993, when the executive authority of the State of South Carolina took the actions he took, the Fugitive was no longer “sought” by the jurisdiction, no longer met the second criteria of the above noted definition, and therefor was no longer a “fugitive from justice.”
That a subsequent governor of South Carolina does not agree with or feel bound by the official actions of a previous governor of South Carolina is no reason to permit the re-imposition of “fugitive from justice” status on the petitioner herein.
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