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In re United States of America Extradition of Sylvester

February 14, 2006

IN THE MATTER OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EXTRADITION OF ALEXANDER WINSTON SYLVESTER, DEFENDANT


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before this Court is the United States of America's Request for Extradition and Temporary Surrender of Alexander Winston Sylvester. (Rec. Doc. 4). The Government has also filed formal papers supporting the request, as required by the 1971 Treaty Between the United States of America and the Government of Canada Concerning Extradition ("the Treaty"). The request is made pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 3184.

On January 18, 2006, a hearing was held on this matter. The parties were directed to submit post-hearing briefs, and to date both the Government and counsel for Mr. Sylvester have submitted memoranda to this Court. (Rec. Docs. 7, 8 and 9). The matter is therefore ripe for our disposition, and for the following reasons, we will deny the Government's request to extradite Mr. Sylvester to Canada.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Alexander Winston Sylvester ("Sylvester") is wanted for a variety of crimes in Canada, including rape, kidnaping and robbery. Canada has sought the assistance of the United States Government under the Treaty that exists between these sovereign nations for extradition and temporary surrender of Sylvester to Canada. Presently, Sylvester is incarcerated and at the Federal Correctional Institution - Allenwood, in White Deer, Pennsylvania.

After Canada obtained the necessary documentation for extradition, the United States filed a complaint in extradition (doc. 1) on April 29, 2005. A hearing, required pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3184, was held on January 18, 2005, and the parties subsequently filed post-hearing submissions.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In ruling on an extradition request, courts must undertake a multi-step analysis. First, the court must determine whether the person named in the complaint is the individual brought before the court. See Quinn v. Robinson, 783 F. 2d 776, 790 (9th Cir. 1986). In the second step, the court must establish that the offenses alleged in the complaint are indeed extraditable pursuant to the applicable treaty. See id. At 782-783. In this case, the Treaty requires "dual criminality:" the offense for which extradition is sought must be a criminal offense under American penal law.*fn1 Finally, the court must determine if there is probable cause to believe that the individual committed the extraditable crimes. Pursuant to the Treaty, the evidence against the subject individual must be sufficient to bind him over for trial, according to the laws of the place where the individual is found.

DISCUSSION

At the hearing, Sylvester did not dispute that he is the individual sought by Canada, nor did he dispute that at least some of the crimes for which he is charged in Canada are extraditable offenses under the Treaty.*fn2 Therefore, the only issue that remains before this Court is whether the Government has met its burden by establishing that there is probable cause that Sylvester committed the extraditable crimes. Sylvester argues that the Government has not met its burden on two levels: first, that the Government cannot establish a prima facie case against him for the extraditable crimes because the statute of limitations of the subject crimes has run and second, that the evidence introduced by the Government at the hearing was insufficient to bind the case over for trial under Pennsylvania law.

Article 10(1) of the Treaty states:

Extradition shall be granted only if the evidence be found sufficient, according to the laws of the place where the person sought shall be found . . . to justify his committal for trial if the offense of which he is accused had been committed in its territory . . .

Under Pennsylvania law, to bind an accused over for trial, at a preliminary hearing the Commonwealth must establish a prima facie case as to each element of the crime, including the element that the statute of limitations is not a bar to prosecution for the offense. See Commonwealth v. Bethlehem, 391 Pa. Super 162, 172 (1989). Under Pennsylvania law, it is not disputed that the statute of limitations has run for each of the offenses at issue. See Pa. Const. Stat. ยง5552. As a result, Sylvester argues, it is impossible for the Government to meet its burden on the statute ...


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