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TERLINDEN v. AMES

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


February 24, 1902

TERLINDEN
v.
AMES

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

Fuller, Gray, Brewer, Brown, Shiras, Jr., White, Peckham, McKenna; Mr. Justice Harlan did not hear the argument and took no part in the decision of the case.

Author: Fuller

[ 184 U.S. Page 276]

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

The treaty of June 16, 1852, between the United States and the Kingdom of Prussia, and other States of the Germanic Confederation included in or which might accede to that convention, provided that the parties thereto should upon requisition "deliver up to justice all persons who, being charged with the crime of murder, or assault with intent to commit murder, or piracy, or assault with intent to commit murder, or arson, or robbery, or forgery, or the utterance of forged papers, of the fabrication or circulation of counterfeit money, whether coin or paper money, or the embezzlement of public moneys, committed within the jurisdiction of either party, shall seek an asylum, or shall be found within the territories of the other." 10 Stat. 964, 966.

Pursuant to ยง 5270*fn1 of the Revised Statutes, (and the acts

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     from which that section was brought forward,) complaint was duly made before a commissioner appointed and authorized by the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois to hear applications for extradition and to issue warrants therefor, charging Terlinden with having as a subject of the Kingdom of Prussia, and within the jurisdiction of that Kingdom, committed the crimes of forgery, counterfeiting and the utterance of forged instruments, and with being a fugitive from the justice of said kingdom.

The complaint charged with much particularity, among other things, the forging and uttering of forged stock certificates of the Gerhard Terlinden Stock Company; the forging of the revenue stamp of the German Government employed by the Royal Prussian Revenue Office; and the forging and uttering of several enumerated acceptances.

Attached to the complaint and referred to therein were duly authenticated*fn1a copies of certain depositions taken before the examining judge of the court at Duisburg, Prussia, in which an investigation against Terlinden, that he might answer for said several crimes, was pending, together with a copy of the warrant

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     for the arrest of Terlinden issued by that court, and of the provisions of the penal code of the German Empire applicable to the crimes in question and providing punishment therefor.

The commissioner issued his warrant and Terlinden was apprehended, whereupon and before the commissioner had entered upon the hearing, Terlinden petitioned and obtained from the District Court the writ of habeas corpus under consideration.

The settled rule is that the writ of habeas corpus cannot perform the office of a writ of error, and that, in extradition proceedings, if the committing magistrate has jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the accused, and the offence 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. Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 U.S. 502, 508, and cases cited; Bryant v. United States, 167 U.S. 104.

The statute in respect of extradition gives no right of review to be exercised by any court or judicial officer, and what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly through the writ of habeas corpus. The court issuing the writ may, however, "inquire and adjudge whether the commissioner acquired jurisdiction of the matter, by conforming to the requirements of the treaty and the statute; whether he exceeded his jurisdiction; and whether he had any legal or competent evidence of facts before him, on which to exercise a judgment as to the criminality of the accused. But such court is not to inquire whether the legal evidence of facts before the commissioner was sufficient or insufficient to warrant his conclusion." Blatchford, J., In re Stupp, 12 Blatch. 501; Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 U.S. 508.

By section 754 of the Revised Statutes it is provided that the complaint in habeas corpus shall set forth "the facts concerning the detention of the party restrained, in whose custody he is detained, and by virtue of what claim or authority, if known;" and by section 755 that the writ shall be awarded "unless it appears from the petition itself that the party is not entitled thereto."

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     On the face of the complaint extraditable offences were charged to have been committed, and if petitioner desired to assert, as he now does in argument, that it appeared from the depositions taken before and the warrant of arrest issued by the court at Duisburg and the provisions of the criminal code that such was not the fact, they should have been set out. Craemer v. Washington, 168 U.S. 124, 128.

And this clearly must be so where, as in this case, the writ is issued and petitioner undertakes to traverse the return. The return was that Terlinden was arrested and held by virtue of warrants of arrest and of commitment issued by the commissioner, under the extradition acts, against Terlinden as a fugitive from the justice of Prussia, and charged with the commission of crimes embraced by the treaty of extradition with that kingdom; and copies of the warrants were attached as part thereof. The alleged traverse referred to the complaint and annexed copies of the depositions filed with it, but did not annex a copy of the warrant of arrest issued by the court at Duisburg, or of the provisions of the penal code made part of the complaint; and also annexed certain sections and paragraphs of the Criminal Code of the German Empire, and of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and of the Civil Code, as applicable to "the facts and circumstances of the case," and then alleged that the depositions did not show or tend to show guilt of an extraditable offence.

This was manifestly insufficient. Petitioner could not select a portion of the documents accompanying the complaint and ask the court to sustain his conclusion of law thereon. Nor could he subsequently supply the inadequacy of the traverse by a certiorari, which could do no more, if it could be, in any view, properly issued at that stage of the proceedings, than bring up what he should have furnished in the first instance.

Generally speaking, "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

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     preliminary examination unless palpably erroneous in law." Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 U.S. 502, 509.

Necessarily this is so, for where jurisdiction depends on the merits, the decision is not open to collateral attack involving a retrial, although if on the whole record the findings are contradicted, the inquiry as to lack of jurisdiction may be entertained.

In this case the writ of habeas corpus was issued before the examination by the commissioner had been entered upon, and his jurisdiction was the only question raised. If he had jurisdiction, the District Court could not interfere, and he had jurisdiction if there was a treaty and the commission of extraditable offences was charged.

But it is said that the offences complained of were not extraditable because their commission was averred to be "contrary to the laws of Prussia," whereas the criminal laws asserted to have been violated were those of the German Empire, and Prussia had no criminal laws dealing with such offences. Hence it is argued that the commissioner had no jurisdiction, because if an extradition treaty existed it was with Prussia, and not with the German Empire; and if any crime was committed, it was against the German Empire and not Prussia.

It is true that by Article 2 of the Constitution of the German Empire it was provided that: "Within this territory the Empire shall have the right of legislation according to the provisions of this constitution, and the laws of the Empire shall take precedence of those of each individual state."

And by Article 4: "The following matters shall be under the supervision of the Empire and its legislation: . . . 13. General legislation regarding the law of obligations, criminal law, commercial law, and the law of exchange; likewise judicial proceedings."

Counsel for petitioner states in his brief that on January 1, 1872, the German Imperial Code went into effect, embracing provisions as to the crime of forgery "contained in sections 267, 268, 146 and 149, the very sections quoted in the depositions filed with the amended complaint." Counsel for respondent agrees with this except that he includes sections or paragraphs

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     and 270. All these are given below as furnished by counsel for respondent.*fn1b And see Drage's Criminal Code of

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     the German Empire, 227, 266. The traverse set up that there were filed with the complaint "a copy of all depositions taken in said matter, together with a copy of the warrant of arrest issued by said court against the said Gerhard Terlinden, alias Theodor Graefe, and of the provisions of the Penal Code of the German Empire applicable to said several crimes, and providing punishment therefor." The traverse did not set forth the warrant of arrest or the provisions of the code referred to, and merely attached certain other provisions which it was averred were applicable. The presumptions were against petitioner, apart from which, accepting the admissions of counsel, extraditable offences were charged if the laws quoted applied, as we think cannot be denied. We are unable to perceive that these laws were not the laws of Prussia, although prescribed by imperial authority, and record discloses that they were being administered as such, in Prussia, by the Royal Prussian Circuit Court at Duisburg. The inquiry into the source of the laws of the demanding government is not material, and the objection is untenable.

It is obvious that the District Court could not remove the case from the commissioner by virtue of the writ of habeas corpus, and that the court rightly declined to hear evidence, to grant the certiorari, or to interfere with the progress of the case.

This brings us to the real question, namely, the denial of the existence of a treaty of extradition between the United States and the Kingdom of Prussia, or the German Empire. In these proceedings the application was made by the official representative of both the Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, but was based on the extradition treaty of 1852. The contention is that, as the result of the formation of the German Empire, this treaty had been terminated by operation of law.

Treaties are of different kinds and terminable in different ways. The fifth article of this treaty provided, in substance, that it should continue in force until 1858, and thereafter until the end of a twelve months' notice by one of the parties of the intention to terminate it. No such notice has ever been given, and extradition has been frequently awarded under it during the entire intervening time.

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     Undoubtedly treaties may be terminated by the absorption of Powers into other Nationalities and the loss of separate existence, as in the case of Hanover and Nassau, which became by conquest incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1866. Cessation of independent existence rendered the execution of treaties impossible. But where sovereignty in that respect is not extinguished, and the power to execute remains unimpaired, outstanding treaties cannot be regarded as avoided because of impossibility of performance.

This treaty was entered into by His Majesty the King of Prussia in his own name and in the names of eighteen other States of the Germanic Confederation, including the Kingdom of Saxony and the free city of Frankfort, and was acceded to by six other States, including the Kingdom of Wurtemburg, and the free Hanseatic city of Bremen, but not including the Hanseatic free cities of Hamburg and Lubeck. The war between Prussia and Austria in 1866 resulted in the extinction of the Germanic Confederation and the absorption of Hanover, Hesse Cassel, Nassau and the free city of Fankfort, by Prussia.

The North German Union was then created under the praesidium of the Crown of Prussia, and our minister to Berlin, George Bancroft, thereupon recognized officially not only the Prussian Parliament, but also the Parliament of the North German United States, and the collective German Customs and Commerce Union, upon the ground that by the paramount constitution of the North German United States, the King of Prussia, to whom he was accredited, was at the head of those several organizations or institutions; and his action was entirely approved by this Government. Messages and Documents, Dep. of State, 1867-8, Part I, p. 601; Dip. Correspondence, Secretary Seward to Mr. Bancroft, Dec. 9, 1867.

February 22, 1868, a treaty relative to naturalization was concluded between the United States and His Majesty, the King of Prussia, on behalf of the North German Confederation, the third article of which read as follows: "The convention for the mutual delivery of criminals, fugitives from justice, in certain cases, concluded between the United States on the one part and Prussia and other States of Germany on the other

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     part, the sixteenth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two, is hereby extended to all the States of the North German Confederation." 15 Stat. 615. This recognized the treaty as still in force, and brought the Republics of Lubeck and Hamburg within its scope. Treaties were also made in that year between the United States and the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurtemburg, concerning naturalization, which contained the provision that the previous conventions between them and the United States in respect of fugitives from justice should remain in force without change.

Then came the adoption of the Constitution of the German Empire. It found the King of Prussia, the chief executive of the North German Union, endowed with power to carry into effect its international obligations, and those of his kingdom, and it perpetuated and confirmed that situation. The official promulgation of that Constitution recited that it was adopted instead of the Costitution of the North German Union, and its preamble declared that "His Majesty the King of Prussia, in the name of the North German Union, His Majesty the King of Bavaria, His Majesty the King of Wurtemburg, His Highness the Grand Duke of Baden, and His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine for those parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse which are situated south of the Main, conclude and eternal alliance for the protection of the territory of the Confederation, and of the laws of the same, as well as for the promotion of the welfare of the German people." As we have heretofore seen, the laws of the Empire were to take precedence of those of the individual States, and it was vested with the power of general legislation in respect of crimes.

Article 11 read "The King of Prussia shall be the president of the Confederation, and shall have the title of German Emperor. The Emperor shall represent the Empire among nations, declare war, and conclude peace in the name of the same; enter into alliances and other conventions with foreign countries, accredit ambassadors, and receive them. . . . So far as treaties with foreign countries refer to matters which, according to Article IV, are to be regulated by the legislature of the Empire, the consent of the Federal Council shall be required

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     for their ratification, and the approval of the Diet shall be necessary to render them valid."

It is contended that the words in the preamble translated "an eternal alliance" should read "an eternal union," but this is not material, for admitting that the Consitution created a composite State instead of a system of confederated States, and even that it was called a confederated Empire rather to save the amour propre of some of its component parts than otherwise, it does not necessarily follow that the Kingdom of Prussia lost its identity as such, or that treaties theretofore entered into by it could not be performed either in the name of its King or that of the Emperor. We do not find in this constitution any provision which in itself operated to abrogate existing treaties or to affect the status of the Kingdom of Prussia in that regard. Nor is there anything in the record to indicate that outstanding treaty obligations have been disregarded since its adoption. So far from that being so, those obligations have been faithfully observed.

And without considering whether extinguished treaties can be renewed by tacit consent under our Constitution, we think that on the question whether this treaty has ever been terminated, governmental action in respect to it must be regarded as of controlling importance. During the period from 1871 to the present day, extradition from this country to Germany, and from Germany to this country, has been frequently granted under the treaty, which has thus been repeatedly recognized by both governments as force. Moore's Report on Extradition with Returns of all Cases, 1890.

In 1889, in response to a request for information on international extradition as practiced by the German Government, the Imperial Foreign Office transmitted to out charge at Berlin a memorial on the subject, in the note accompanying which it was said: "The questions referred to, in so far as they could not be uniformly answered for all the confederated German States, have been answered in that document as relating to the case of applications for extradition addressed to the Empire or Prussia." It was stated in the memorial, among other things:

"In so far as by laws and treaties of the Empire relating to

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     the extradition of criminals, provisions which bind all the States of the union have not been made, those States are not hindered from independently regulating extradition by agreements with foreign States, or by laws enacted for their own territory.

"Of conventions, some of an earlier, some of a later period, for the extradition of criminals, entered into by individual States of the union with various foreign States, there exist a number, and in particular such with France, the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. With the United States of America, also, extradition is regulated by various treaties, as, besides the treaty of June 16, 1852, which applies to all of the States of the former North German Union, and also to Hesse, south of the Main, and to Wurtemburg, there exist separate treaties with Bavaria and Baden, of September 12, 1853, and January 30, 1857, respectively." Moore's Report, 93, 94.

Thus it appears that the German Government has officially recognized, and continues to recognize, the treaty of June 16, 1852, as still in force, as well as similar treaties with other members of the Empire, so far the latter has not taken specific action to the contrary or in lieu thereof. And see Laband, Das Staatsrecht des Deutschen Reiches, (1894), 122, 123, 124, 142.

It is out of the question that a citizen of one of the German states, charged with being a fugitive from its justice, should be permitted to call on the courts of this country to adjudicate the correctness of the conclusions of the Empire as to its powers and the powers of its members, and especially as the Executive Department of our Government has accepted these conclusions and proceeded accordingly.

The same is true as respects many other treaties of serious moment, with Prussia, and with particular States of the Empire, and it would be singular, indeed, if after the lapse of years of performance of their stipulations, these treaties must be held to have terminated because of the inability to perform during all that time of one of the parties.

In the notes accompanying the State Department's compilation of Treaties and Conventions between the United States and other Powers, published in 1889, Mr. J. C. Bancroft Davis treats of the subject thus:

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     "The establishment of the German Empire in 1871, and the complex relations of its component parts to each other and to the Empire, necessarily give rise to questions as to the treaties entered into with the North German Confederation and with many of the States composing the Empire. It cannot be said that any fixed rules have been established.

"Where a State has lost its separate existence, as in the case of Hanover and Nassau, no questions can arise.

"Where no new treaty has been negotiated with the Empire, the treaties with the various States which have preserved a separate existence have been resorted to.

"The question of the existence of the extradition treaty with Bavaria was presented to the United States District Court, on the application of a person accused of forgery committed in Bavaria, to be discharged on habeas corpus, who was in custody after the issue of a mandate, at the request of the minister of Germany. The court held that the treaty was admitted by both governments to be in existence.

"Such a question is, after all, purely a political one."

The case there referred to is that of In re Thomas, 12 Blatch. 370, in which the continuance of the extradition treaty with Bavaria was called in question, and Mr. Justice Blatchford, then District Judge, said:

"It is further contended, on the part of Thomas, that the convention with Bavaria was abrogated by the absorption of Bavaria into the German Empire. An examination of the provisions of the Constitution of the German Empire does not disclose anything which indicates that then existing treaties between the several States composing the confederation called the German Empire, and foreign countries, were annulled, or to be considered as abrogated.

"Indeed, it is difficult to see how such a treaty as that between Bavaria and the United States can be abrogated by the action of Bavaria alone, without the consent of the United States. Where a treaty is violated by one of the contracting parties, it rests alone with the injured party to pronounce it broken, the treaty being, in such case, not absolutely void, but voidable, at the election of the injured party, who may waive

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     or remit the infraction committed, or may demand a just satisfaction, the treaty remaining obligatory if he chooses not to come to a rupture. 1 Kent's Com. 174. In the present case the mandate issued by the Government of the United States shows that the convention in question is regarded as in force both by the United States and by the German Empire, represented by its envoys, and by Bavaria, represented by the same envoy. The application of the foreign government was made through the proper diplomatic representative of the German Empire and of Bavaria, and the complaint before the commissioner was made by the proper consular authority representing the German Empire and also representing Bavaria."

We concur in the view that the question whether power remains in a foreign State to carry out its treaty obligations is in its nature political and not judicial, and that the courts ought not to interfere with the conclusions of the political department in that regard.

Treaties of extradition are executory in their character, and fall within the rule laid down by Chief Justice Marshall in Foster v. Neilson, 2 Pet. 253, 314, thus: "Our Constitution declares a treaty to be the law of the land. It is, consequently, to be regarded in courts of justice as equivalent to an act of the legislature, whenever it operates of itself without the aid of any legislative provision. But when the terms of the stipulation import a contract, when either of the parties engages to perform a particular act, the treaty addresses itself to the political, not the judicial department."

In Doe v. Braden, 16 How. 635, 656, where it was contended that so much of the treaty of February 22, 1819, ceding Florida to the United States, as annulled a certain land grant, was void for want of power in the King of Spain to ratify such a provision, it was held that whether or not the King of Spain had power, according to the Constitution of Spain, to annul the grant, was a political and not a judicial question, and was decided when the treaty was made and ratified.

Mr. Chief Justice Taney said: "The treaty is therefore a law made by the proper authority, and the courts of justice have no right to annul or disregard any of its provisions, unless

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     they violate the Constitution of the United States. It is their duty to interpret it and administer it according to its terms. And it would be impossible for the executive department of the Government to conduct our foreign relations with any advantage to the country, and fulfil the duties which the Constitution has imposed upon it, if every court in the country was authorized to inquire and decide whether the person who ratified the treaty on behalf of a foreign nation had the power, by its constitution and laws, to make the engagements into which he entered."

Extradition may be sufficiently defined to be the surrender by one nation to another of an individual accused or convicted of an offence outside of its own territory, and within the territorial jurisdiction of the other, which, being competent to try and to punish him, demands the surrender.

In the United States, the general opinion and practice have been that extradition should be declined in the absence of a conventional or legislative provision. 1 Moore on Extradition, 21; United States v. Rauscher, 119 U.S. 407.

The power to surrender is clearly included within the treaty-making power and the corresponding power of appointing and receiving ambassadors and other public ministers. Holmes v. Jennison, 14 Pet. 540, 569. Its exercise pertains to public policy and governmental administration, is devolved on the Executive authority, and the warrant of surrender is issued by the Secretary of State as the representative of the President in foreign affairs.

If it be assumed in the case before us, and the papers presented on the motion for a stay advise us that such is the fact, that the commissioner, on hearing, deemed the evidence sufficient to sustain the charges, and certified his findings and the testimony to the Secretary of State, and a warrant for the surrender of Terlinden on the proper requisition was duly issued, it cannot be successfully contended that the courts could properly intervene on the ground that the treaty under which both governments had proceeded, had terminated by reason of the adoption of the constitution of the German Empire, notwithstanding

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     the judgment of both governments to the contrary.

The decisions of the Executive Department in matters of extradition, within its own sphere, and in accordance with the Constitution, are not open to judicial revision, and it results that where proceedings for extradition, regularly and constitutionally taken under the acts of Congress, are pending, they cannot be put an end to by writs of habeas corpus.

The District Court was right, and its final order is

Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN did not hear the argument and took no part in the decision of the case.


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