Ornelas v. Ruiz
161 U.S. 502 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 U.S. 502 (1896)

Ornelas v. Ruiz

No. 622

Argued January 13, 1896

Decided March 16, 1896

161 U.S. 502

Syllabus

The appellees were brought before a Circuit Court commissioner in the Western District of Texas, charged by the Mexican consul with the commission, in Mexico, of a crime extraditable under the treaty of June 20, 1862. The commissioner found the evidence sufficient to warrant their commitment for extradition. On the application of the prisoners, a writ of habeas corpus was issued by the United States District Judge, directed to the marshal of the district. The judge, after hearing, decided that the offenses charged were political offenses, and not extraditable, and ordered the prisoners discharged. From this judgment, the consul appealed to this Court. Held that as his government was the real party

Page 161 U. S. 503

interested, the appeal was properly prosecuted by him, and as the construction of the treaty was drawn in question, it was properly taken to this Court.

The order of the district court requiring the petitioners to enter into recognizances for their appearance to answer its judgment was rightly made.

A writ of habeas corpus cannot perform the office of a writ of error, and in extradition proceedings, if the committing magistrate has jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the accused, and the offense charged is within the terms of the treaty of extradition, and the magistrate, in arriving at a decision to hold the accused, has before him competent legal evidence on which to exercise his judgment as to whether the facts are sufficient to establish the criminality of the accused for the purposes of extradition, such decision cannot be reviewed on habeas corpus.

Whether an extraditable crime has been committed is a question of mixed law and fact, but chiefly of fact, and the judgment of the magistrate rendered in good faith on legal evidence that the accused is guilty of the act charged, and that it constitutes an extraditable crime, cannot be reviewed on the weight of evidence, and is final for the purposes of the preliminary examination unless palpably erroneous in law.

It is enough if it appear that there was legal evidence on which the commissioner might properly conclude that the accused had committed offenses within the treaty as charged, and so be justified in exercising his power to commit them to await the action of the Executive Department.

On complaints made by Plutarco Ornelas, consul of the Republic of Mexico, charging Juan Duque, Inez Ruiz, and Jesus Guerra with the commission of murder, arson, robbery, and kidnapping at the village of San Ygnacio, in the State of Tamaulipas, Republic of Mexico, on December 10, 1892; that they were fugitives from justice of the State of Tamaulipas and the Republic of Mexico, and had fled into the jurisdiction of the United States for the purpose of seeking an asylum, and that the alleged crimes were enumerated and embraced in the treaty of extradition then in force between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, warrants were issued by L. F. Price, commissioner of the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Texas, duly authorized, for their apprehension, on which they were arrested and brought before the commissioner to answer the premises and to be dealt with according to law and the provisions of the treaty. The cases were heard, and the commissioner

Page 161 U. S. 504

found that the evidence was sufficient in law to justify their commitment on such charges, and that they should be placed in custody to await the order of the President of the United States in the premises.

Thereupon Ruiz, Guerra, and Duque applied to the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Texas for writs of habeas corpus, alleging that they were unlawfully restrained of their liberty by the United States marshal for that district, and praying that they be released.

The writs were issued, and the marshal made his return, showing that he held petitioners by virtue of warrants issued by the United States commissioner, on the application of the Mexican government for their extradition on the aforesaid charges. With the writs of habeas corpus were issued writs of certiorari directing the commissioner to send up the original papers and a transcript of the testimony on which the prisoners were committed. This was done, and on consideration of the cases, the district court held on the evidence that the offenses with which petitioners were charged were purely political offenses, for the commission of which petitioners were not extraditable, and entered a final order discharging petitioners from the custody of the marshal on giving bond for their appearance to answer the judgment on appeal. From this final order the consul of the Republic of Mexico prayed an appeal to this Court

The following are articles of the extradition treaty between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, proclaimed June 20, 1862:

"Article I. It is agreed that the contracting parties shall, on requisitions made in their name, through the medium of their respective diplomatic agents, deliver up to justice persons who, being accused of the crimes enumerated in article third of the present treaty, committed within the jurisdiction of the requiring party, shall seek an asylum, or shall be found within the territories of the other, provided that this shall be done only when the fact of the commission of the crime shall be so established as that the laws of the country in which the fugitive or the person so accused shall be found

Page 161 U. S. 505

would justify his or her apprehension and commitment for trial if the crime had been there committed."

"Article II. In the case of crimes committed in the frontier states or territories of the two be suspended, through the chief military officer through their respective diplomatic agents, or through the chief civil authority of said states or territories, or through such chief civil or judicial authority of the districts or counties bordering on the frontier as may for this purpose by duly authorized by the said chief civil authority of the said frontier states or territories, or when from any cause the civil authority of such state or territory shall be suspended, through the chief military officer in command of such state or territory."

"Article III. Persons shall be so delivered up who shall be charged, according to the provisions of this treaty, with any of the following crimes, whether as principals, accessories, or accomplices, to-wit: murder (including assassination, parricide, infanticide, and poisoning), assault with intent to commit murder, mutilation, piracy, arson, rape, kidnapping, defining the same to be the taking and carrying away of a free person by force or deception; forgery, including the forging or making, or knowingly passing or putting in circulation counterfeit coin or bank notes, or other paper current as money, with intent to defraud any person or persons; the introduction or making of instruments for the fabrication of counterfeit coin or bank notes, or other paper current as money; embezzlement of public moneys, robbery, defining the same to be the felonious and forcible taking from the person of another of goods or money to any value, by violence or putting him in fear; burglary, defining the same to be breaking and entering into the house of another with intent to commit felony, and the crime of larceny, of cattle, or other goods and chattels, of the value of twenty-five dollars or more, when the same is committed within the frontier states or territories of the contracting parties."

"Article IV. On the part of each country, the surrender of fugitives from justice shall be made only by the authority of the executive thereof, except in the case of crimes committed

Page 161 U. S. 506

within the limits of the frontier states or territories, in which latter case the surrender may be made by the chief civil authority thereof, or such chief civil or judicial authority of the district or counties bordering on the frontier as may for this purpose be duly authorized by the said chief civil authority of the said frontier states or territories, or, if, from any cause, the civil authority of such state or territory shall be suspended, then such surrender may be made by the chief military officer in command of such state or territory."

"Article V. All expenses whatever of detention and delivery effected in virtue of the preceding provisions shall be borne and defrayed by the government or authority of the frontier state or territory in whose name the requisition shall have been made."

"Article VI. The provisions of the present treaty shall not be applied in any manner to any crime or offense of a purely political character, nor shall it embrace the return of fugitive slaves, nor the delivery of criminals who, when the offense was committed, shall have been held in the place where the offense was committed in the condition of slaves, the same being expressly forbidden by the Constitution of Mexico, nor shall the provisions of the present treaty be applied in any manner to the crimes enumerated in the third article committed anterior to the date of the exchange of the ratifications hereof."

"Neither of the contracting parties shall be bound to deliver up its own citizens under the stipulations of this treaty."

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