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Perron v. Menard

Supreme Court of Vermont

June 9, 2017

James D. Perron
Lisa Menard, Commissioner

         On Appeal from Superior Court, Rutland Unit, Civil Division Helen M. Toor, J.

          Matthew F. Valerio, Defender General, and Dawn Matthews, Appellate Defender, Montpelier, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          David Tartter, Deputy State's Attorney, Montpelier, for Defendant-Appellee.

          PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Skoglund, Robinson, Eaton and Carroll, JJ.

          CARROLL, J.

         ¶ 1. The State of New York seeks to extradite petitioner James Perron, alleging that he has a sentence to serve in that state following his conviction for grand larceny. Petitioner was initially detained on a prerequisition warrant, but Vermont's Governor has since issued two separate warrants for petitioner's arrest. The first authorized petitioner's arrest as a fugitive charged by New York with grand larceny who fled justice in that state and is currently in Vermont. The second states that petitioner escaped confinement and failed to report for service of the sentence imposed by New York. The trial court denied petitioner's prerequisition writ of habeas corpus and subsequently also denied his challenge to the Governor's warrants. Petitioner now appeals the trial court's ruling. We affirm.

         ¶ 2. In 2014, petitioner was indicted in Westchester County, New York, for several theft and fraud-related crimes. While he was released on bail pending trial on those charges, petitioner was taken into custody by federal agents and indicted on an unrelated wire fraud charge in Florida. New York state took custody of petitioner while his federal case was pending and petitioner entered a plea to one count of third-degree grand larceny. Petitioner was sentenced to two-to-four-years imprisonment on the state charge. Petitioner was then returned to federal custody and subsequently convicted. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida sentenced petitioner to thirty months' imprisonment on the federal charge. The sentencing documents were silent as to whether the sentence would be served concurrently with or consecutive to the New York sentence.

         ¶ 3. Petitioner completed his federal sentence in the federal correctional institute in Berlin, New Hampshire. Upon completion of his federal sentence, petitioner was taken into custody by the State of New Hampshire on a New York warrant. In an extradition proceeding, the New Hampshire court found that the New York paperwork did not comply with New Hampshire's extradition requirements, though that court's decision does not explain how the paperwork was deficient. The State of New Hampshire released petitioner on January 25, 2017. Shortly thereafter, Vermont state police received notice that petitioner had an extraditable New York arrest warrant outstanding and that he was currently in Vermont. Petitioner was arrested on a prerequisition warrant and held in a Vermont correctional facility.

         ¶ 4. Petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus, which the trial court denied. Since his initial arrest in the state, Vermont's Governor has issued two extradition warrants for petitioner; petitioner unsuccessfully challenged both of these in the trial court. Petitioner now appeals the trial court's determination that the Governor's warrants meet prima facie requirements for extradition, arguing that the documents produced by New York fail to show that he has a remaining sentence to serve in that state and that he is not a "fugitive" as that term is used in an extradition context.[*]

         ¶ 5. We begin by noting, as we have before, the constraints that bind our authority when we are asked to review another state's extradition request. In re Ladd, 157 Vt. 270, 272, 596 A.2d 1313, 1314 (1991). The U.S. Constitution places limits on the sovereign authority of the states where necessary to " 'the Framers' conception of national identity and Union.' " In re LaPlante, 2014 VT 79, ¶ 5, 197 Vt. 189, 101 A.3d 173 (quoting California v. Sup. Ct. of Cal., San Bernardino Cty., 482 U.S. 400, 405 (1987)). Article IV's Extradition Clause is one such limit:

A person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he [or she] fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

U.S. Const., art. IV, § 2, cl. 2. The Extradition Clause "articulate[s], in mandatory language, the concepts of comity and full faith and credit, " and its purpose is to bring criminal offenders to justice in the states where they have offended as quickly as possible. Michigan v. Doran, 439 U.S. 282, 287-88 (1978). To further the administration of justice in the many states, an individual state must tender an offender or alleged offender to the state from whence he or she has fled upon the request of that state's executive authority. See id.

         ¶ 6. But despite its mandatory language and purpose, the Extradition Clause is not self-executing. To that end, Congress adopted the Extradition Act of 1793, which, as codified, requires that a state, upon the request of a sister-state, secure a "fugitive from justice" when an indictment or affidavit charging the fugitive with a crime committed in the demanding state accompanies the request. 18 U.S.C. § 3182; see also Sup. Ct. of Cal., San Bernardino Cty., 482 U.S. at 406-07 (explaining that early dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia led President Washington to seek, and obtain, law regulating extradition). It is now, though it was not always, settled law that the Extradition Act permits federal courts to require that state officials comply with the Act's, and thereby the Extradition Clause's, demands. See Puerto Rico v. Branstad, 483 U.S. 219, 224-29 (1987) (abandoning rule first adopted in Kentucky v. Dennison, 65 U.S. 66, 24 How. 66 (1860), when federal power was "at its lowest ebb" on eve of Civil War, that asylum state's obligation to deliver fugitive to demanding state was "moral" rather than "mandatory and compulsory" (quoting Dennison, 65 U.S. at 107, 24 How. at 107)). We are, therefore, bound not only by the Constitution's own language, but also by a federal law in existence since the nation's earliest days.

         ¶ 7. We are, of course, also bound by our own state laws-here, the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA), adopted by Vermont in 1933. 1933, No. 36 (Adj. Sess.) (codified as amended at 13 V.S.A. §§ 4941-4969). The UCEA's purpose was to implement the requirements of the Extradition Clause. Lovejoy v. State, 148 Vt. 239, 243, 531 A.2d 921, 924 (1987). Section 4943(b) of Title 13 provides that Vermont's executive authority shall not issue an extradition warrant unless the demanding state presents documents showing: (1) that the accused was in the demanding state at the time of the criminal offense and subsequently fled; (2) the accused is currently in Vermont; and (3) the accused is "charged . . . with having committed a crime under the laws of that state or that he or she has been convicted of a crime in that state and has escaped from confinement or broken the terms of his or her bail, probation ...

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