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WRIGHT v. HENKEL

June 1, 1903

WRIGHT
v.
HENKEL



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, Brown, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day

Author: Fuller

[ 190 U.S. Page 57]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

The writ of habeas corpus cannot perform the office of a writ of error, but the court issuing the writ may inquire into the jurisdiction of the committing magistrate in extradition proceedings, Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 U.S. 502; Terlinden v. Ames, 184 U.S. 270; and it was on the ground of want of jurisdiction that the writ applied for in this instance before the commissioner had entered upon the examination; as also on the ground that petitioner should have been admitted to bail.

The contention is that the complaint and warrant did not charge an extraditable offence within the meaning of the extradition treaties between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, because the offence was not criminal at common law, or by acts of Congress, or by the preponderance of the statutes of the States.

Treaties must receive a fair interpretation, according to the intention of the contracting parties, and so as to carry out their manifest purpose. The ordinary technicalities of criminal proceedings are applicable to proceedings in extradition only to a limited extent. Grin v. Shine, 187 U.S. 181; Tucker v. Alexandroff, 183 U.S. 424.

[ 190 U.S. Page 58]

     The general principle of international law is that in all cases of extradition the act done on account of which extradition is demanded must be considered a crime by both parties, and as to the offence charged in this case the treaty of 1889 embodies that principle in terms. The offence must be "made criminal by the laws of both countries."

We think it cannot be reasonably open to question that the offence under the British statute is also a crime under the third paragraph of section 611 of the Penal Code of New York, brought forward from section 603 of the Code of 1882. Frand by a bailee, banker, agent, factor, trustee or director, or member or officer of any company, is made the basis of surrender by the treaty. The British statute punishes the making, circulating or publishing with intent to deceive or defraud, of false statements or accounts of a body corporate or public company, known to be false, by a director, manager or public officer thereof. The New York statute provides that if an officer or director of a corporation knowingly concurs in making or publishing any written report, exhibit or statement of its affairs or pecuniary condition, containing any material statement which is false, he is guilty of a misdemeanor. The two statutes are substantially analogous. The making of such a false statement knowingly, under the New York act, carries with it the inference of fraudulent intent, but even if this were not so, criminality under the British act would certainly be such under that of New York. Absolute identity is not required. The essential character of the transaction is the same, and made criminal by both statutes.

It may be remarked that the statutes of several other States agree with that of New York on this subject; and that sections 73 and 74 of the act of Congress to define and punish crimes in the District of Alaska, 30 Stat. 1253, c. 429, and section 5209 of the Revised Statutes, in respect of the officers of National Banks, are largely to the same effect as the English statute.

As the State of New York was the place where the accused was found and in legal effect the asylum to which he had fled, is the language of the treaty, "made criminal by the laws of

[ 190 U.S. Page 59]

     both countries," to be interpreted as limiting its scope to acts of Congress, and eliminating the operation of the laws of the States? That view would largely defeat the object of our extradition treaties by ignoring the fact that for nearly all crimes and misdemeanors the laws of the States, and not the enactments of Congress, must be looked to for the definition of the offence. There are no common law crimes of the United States, and, indeed, in most of the States the ...


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