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Uniform Criminal Extradition Act

An extradition is surrendering the custody of an accused from one state or country to another state or country to place the accused on trial or punishment.  In deciding extradition matters, an asylum state must comply with[i]:

  • The Extradition Clause[ii];
  • The federal statute[iii]; and
  • The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA ).

The federal constitutional and statutory provisions control the extradition process.  All the states must follow the guidelines in the U.S. constitution and the federal statute.  Further, extradition guidelines are usually found in the UCEA, which has been adopted in many states.  Moreover, the extradition clause in the statute has been implemented in states through the federal statute and the UCEA.

The implementation of extradition clause differs with each state.  For example, the UCEA as adopted by the New York legislature discloses that the provision is made therein for two kinds of extradition:  It is the duty of the governor of this state to have arrested and delivered up to the executive authority of any other state any person charged in that state with treason, felony, or other crime, who has fled from justice and is found in this state.  Additionally, the governor of the state is charged with the duty of carrying out the provisions of the federal Constitution and the acts of Congress enacted for the purpose[iv].

In the states where the UCEA has been adopted, the Act governs state extradition proceedings.  The law is to be applied in combination with federal laws.  However, where a conflict arises between the UCEA and federal law, the federal law will prevail, ie. the UCEA provisions must not be in conflict with the governing federal constitutional and statutory provisions[v].  A statute must be construed with reference to the entire statutory system of which the disputed statute forms a part.  The construction must be in such a way that harmony must be achieved among the parts[vi].

Moreover, it is the constitutional duty of an asylum state to enforce the interstate extradition clause of the U.S. Constitution faithfully.  The state must not adopt a narrow construction against the demanding state[vii].  Harmony and welfare of the states requires a faithful, vigorous enforcement of the constitutional and statutory provisions relating to fugitives.  Every state must take care, within the limits of the law, that the rights of its people are protected against illegal action.  However, the judicial authorities of the Union should equally take care that the provisions of the Constitution is not so narrowly interpreted.  Such narrow interpretation enables the offenders against the laws of a state to find a permanent asylum in the territory of another state[viii].

However, the UCEA applies only between states which have adopted the act and does not regulate extradition proceedings between a state and federal authorities.  Extraditions between the states and the federal government are governed by the principles of comity[ix].

[i] Pakulski v. Hickey, 731 F.2d 382, 386 (6th Cir. Ohio 1984).

[ii] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 2, Cl 2.

[iii] 18 USCS § 3182.

[iv] People ex rel. Swanson v. Fitzsimmons, 2 A.D.2d 235, 236 (N.Y. App. Div. 4th Dep’t 1956).

[v] Johns v. Bowlen, 942 S.W.2d 544, 547 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1996).

[vi] Merrill v. Department of Motor Vehicles, 71 Cal. 2d 907, 918 (Cal. 1969).

[vii] Application of De Gina, 94 N.J. Super. 267, 272 (App.Div. 1967).

[viii] Dressel v. Bianco, 168 Colo. 517 (Colo. 1969).

[ix] Ponzi v. Fessenden, 258 U.S. 254 (U.S. 1922).

Inside Uniform Criminal Extradition Act