Collins v. Loisel
259 U.S. 309 (1922)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Collins v. Loisel, 259 U.S. 309 (1922)

Collins v. Loisel

No. 672

Argued April 28, 1922

Decided May 29, 1922

259 U.S. 309




1. To warrant extradition (in this case, to India under the treaties with Great Britain), it is not necessary that the name by which the crime is described in the two countries be the same, nor that the scope of the liability be coextensive, or, in other respects, the same in each; it is enough if the particular act charged is criminal in both jurisdictions. P. 259 U. S. 311.

2. The Act of August 3, 1882, c. 378, § 5, 22 Stat. 216, repealing Rev.Stats. § 5271 so far as inconsistent, admits as evidence in extradition proceedings warrants and other papers, and copies thereof, as well as depositions, authenticated so as to authorize their admission for similar purposes in courts of the foreign country when such authentication is proven by the certificate of the principal diplomatic or Consular officer of the United States resident in such country. P. 259 U. S. 313.

3. In extradition for an offense committed at Bombay, India is the "foreign country" within the meaning of this statute, and the papers may be certified by the Consul General of the United States stationed at Calcutta, of whose identity and of whose status as our principal diplomatic or Consular officer resident in that country the court takes judicial notice. P. 259 U. S. 314.

4. Evidence that the accused obtained valuable personal property by knowingly false representations of his wealth and standing, of his authority to draw the draft given the vendor, and of the identity and financial standing of the drawee held sufficient to show an obtaining by false pretenses within the law of Louisiana, as well as a cheat at common law. P. 259 U. S. 314.

Page 259 U. S. 310

5. Under the Treaty of August 9, 1842, with Great Britain, providing that extradition shall only be had on such evidence of criminality as, according to the laws of the place where the person charged is found, would justify his arrest and commitment for trial if the offense had been committed there, and under the law of Louisiana, allowing accused persons to present evidence in their own behalf before the committing magistrate, a person arrested for extradition is entitled to introduce evidence rebutting probable cause, but not evidence in defense. P. 259 U. S. 315.

6. The function of the committing magistrate is to determine whether there is competent evidence sufficient to hold the accused for trial, and not whether it would suffice for a conviction. P. 259 U. S. 315.

7. His conclusions as to relevancy of evidence are not reexaminable in habeas corpus unless so clearly unjustified a to amount to denial of the hearing prescribed by law. P. 259 U. S. 317.

8. The phrase "such evidence of criminality" in the Treaty of 1842, supra, refer to sufficiency of evidence in elements essential to a conviction, not to the character of specific instruments of evidence or to rules governing admissibility. P. 259 U. S. 317.

9. The procedural law of the state cannot entitle the prisoner to introduce evidence made irrelevant by the treaty. P. 259 U. S. 317.


Appeal from a judgment of the district court in habeas corpus, remanding the appellant to the custody of the marshal under a commitment issued in an extradition proceeding.

MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is the second appeal by Collins in this case. The first was dismissed in Collins v. Miller,252 U. S. 364, for want of jurisdiction. There, the earlier proceedings and the nature of the controversy are fully set forth. After our decision, the case was again heard by the district court

Page 259 U. S. 311

on the same record and the same evidence, and on October 25, 1921, judgment was entered. By that judgment, the writ of habeas corpus was granted so far as the commitment was based on charges of obtaining property by false pretenses from Pohoomull Bros. and from Ganeshi Lall & Sons, and as to these commitments, the court discharged Collins. But as to the commitment based on the charge of obtaining property by false pretenses from Mahomed Ali Zaimal Ali Raza, the court dismissed the application for habeas corpus and remanded Collins to the custody of Loisel, the marshal. The British Consul General acquiesced in this judgment. Collins appealed from so much thereof as recommitted him to the custody of the marshal. As the judgment below was final and disposed of the whole case, we now have jurisdiction. It is insisted on several grounds that the committing magistrate was without jurisdiction, and that consequently the appellant should have been discharged.

First. Collins contends that the affidavit of the British Consul General does not charge an extraditable offense. The argument is that the affidavit charges cheating merely; that cheating is not among the offenses enumerated in the extradition treaties; that cheating is a different offense from obtaining property under false pretenses, which is expressly named in the treaty of December 13, 1900; that to convict of cheating, it is sufficient to prove a promise of future performance which the promisor does not intend to perform, while to convict of obtaining property by false pretense, it is essential that there be a false representation of a state of things past or present. See State v. Colly, 39 La.Ann. 841. It is true that an offense is extraditable only if the acts charged are criminal by the laws of both countries. It is also true that the charge made in the court of India rests upon § 420 of its Penal Code, which declares:

"Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived

Page 259 U. S. 312

to deliver any property to any person . . . shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine, [Footnote 1]"

whereas § 813 of the Revised Statutes of Louisiana declares:

"Whoever, by any false pretense, shall obtain, or aid and assist another in obtaining, from any person, money or any property, with intent to defraud him of the same, he shall, on conviction, be punished by imprisonment at hard labor or otherwise, not exceeding twelve months."

But the affidavit of the British Consul General recites that Collins stands charged in the Chief Presidency Magistrate's Court with having feloniously obtained the pearl button by false pretenses, and the certificate of the secretary to the government of India, which accompanies the papers on which Collins' surrender is sought, describes the offense with which he is there charged as "the crime of obtaining valuable property by false pretenses." The law does not require that the name by which the crime is described in the two countries shall be the same, nor that the scope of the liability shall be coextensive or in other respects the same in the two countries. It is enough if the particular act charged is criminal in both jurisdictions. This was held with reference to different crimes involving false statements in Wright v. Henkel,190 U. S. 40, 190 U. S. 58; Kelly v. Griffin,241 U. S. 6, 241 U. S. 14; Benson v. McMahon,127 U. S. 457, 127 U. S. 465, and Greene v. United States, 154 F. 401. Compare Ex parte Piot, 15 Cox C.C. 208. The offense charged was therefore clearly extraditable.

Second. Collins contends that the evidence introduced was wholly inadmissible. That particularly objected to

Page 259 U. S. 313

on this ground is the warrant of arrest and copies of prima facie proceedings in the Court of the Chief Presidency Magistrate, Bombay, which accompanied the affidavit of the British Consul General. The Consul General for the United States in Calcutta had certified that these papers proposed to be used upon an application for the extradition of Collins "charged with the crime of obtaining valuable property by false pretenses alleged to have been committed in Bombay" were

"properly and legally authenticated, so as to entitle them to be received in evidence for similar purposes by the tribunals of British India, as required by the Act of Congress of August 3, 1882."

That act, c. 378, § 5, 22 Stat. 215, 216, declares that "depositions, warrants, and other papers, or the copies thereof" so authenticated, shall be received and admitted as evidence for all purposes on hearings of an extradition case if they bear "the certificate of the principal diplomatic or Consular officer of the United States resident in such foreign country." One argument of Collins is that the admissibility of evidence is determined not by the above provision of the Act of 1882, but by § 5271 of the Revised Statutes, which provided only that copies of foreign depositions shall be admitted when "attested upon the oath of the party producing them to be true copies," and which did not provide for the admission of "warrants or other papers," and that, on these grounds, copies both of the Indian documents and of certain London depositions should have been excluded, since neither the Consul General at Calcutta, the Secretary of the Embassy at London, nor the British Consul General at New Orleans could attest that the papers were true copies. But § 6 of the Act of 1882 expressly provides for the repeal of so much of § 5271 as is inconsistent with earlier provisions of that act, and under § 5 thereof, the admissibility of papers is not so restricted.

Another argument of Collins is that the Indian documents were not

Page 259 U. S. 314

properly authenticated, because they were certified to by the Consul General at Calcutta, and not by the Consul at Bombay, where the offense charged is alleged to have been committed. The "foreign country" here in question is India, not Bombay, and we may, in this connection, take judicial notice of the fact that the Consul General of the United States, who is stationed at Calcutta, is the principal diplomatic or Consular officer resident in that country, and who he is. Compare 58 U. S. Co. v. Winans, 17 How. 30, 41; Keyser v. Hitz,133 U. S. 138, 133 U. S. 146. The papers were therefore properly authenticated, and were admissible. Compare In re Behrendt, 22 F. 699; In re Charleston, 34 F. 531; In re Orpen, 86 F. 760.

Third. Collins contends that the evidence introduced did not support the charge of obtaining property by false pretenses. The papers introduced tended to prove that Collins obtained the pearl button from the jewelers as a result of his representing that he was a wealthy man; that he was a partner in William Collins & Sons Company of Glasgow and London; that he was a colonel in the Howe Battalion of the Royal Naval Division and was then on six months' leave; that he had a right to draw on Messrs. E. Courtice & Co., 8 Clarges Street, London, the draft of

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