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PUERTO RICO v. BRANSTAD

decided: June 23, 1987.

PUERTO RICO
v.
BRANSTAD, GOVERNOR OF IOWA, ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

Marshall, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Brennan, White, Blackmun, and Stevens, JJ., joined, in Parts I, II-A, II-C, and III of which Powell and O'Connor, JJ., joined, and in which Scalia, J., joined in part. O'Connor, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Powell, J., joined, post, p. 230. Scalia, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post, p. 231.

Author: Marshall

[ 483 U.S. Page 220]

 JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case requires that we reconsider the holding of Kentucky v. Dennison, 24 How. 66 (1861), that federal courts

[ 483 U.S. Page 221]

     have no power to order the Governor of a State to fulfill the State's obligation under the Extradition Clause of the Constitution, Art. IV, ยง 2, to deliver up fugitives from justice.

I

On January 25, 1981, respondent Ronald Calder, then a civilian air traffic controller employed by the Federal Aviation Administration in San Juan, Puerto Rico, struck two people with his automobile. One of the victims, Antonio de Jesus Gonzalez, was injured; his wife, Army Villalba, was killed. Villalba was eight months pregnant; her unborn child did not survive. App. 3a. The incident occurred in the parking lot of a grocery store in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, after what was apparently an altercation between Calder and De Jesus Gonzalez. According to two sworn statements taken by police, one from De Jesus Gonzalez and one from a witness to the incident, after striking the couple Calder backed his car two or three times over the prostrate body of Villalba. App. to Pet for Cert. A34-A41.

On the basis of these statements, Calder was arrested, charged with homicide, arraigned before a municipal judge, and released on $5,000 bail. On February 4, 1981, Calder was arraigned before a District Court of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder. Calder failed to appear at a preliminary hearing on March 4, 1981, and bail was increased to $50,000. Despite representations by counsel that Calder would appear at a preliminary hearing on April 13, 1981, he did not do so. At that time Calder was declared a fugitive from justice, and bail was increased to $300,000. The Puerto Rican police, having reason to believe that Calder had left Puerto Rico and returned to his family's home in Iowa, notified local authorities in Iowa that Calder was a fugitive wanted in Puerto Rico on murder charges. On April 24, 1981, Calder surrendered

[ 483 U.S. Page 222]

     to local authorities in Polk County, Iowa, posted the $20,000 bond set by an Iowa Magistrate, and was released. Id., at A18-A19.

On May 15, 1981, the Governor of Puerto Rico submitted to the Governor of Iowa a request for Calder's extradition. The requesting papers included the arrest warrant, the fugitive resolution, the charging documents, and three sworn statements of witnesses, including one in which the affiant identified a photograph of Calder as depicting the driver of the car. Counsel for Calder requested that the Governor of Iowa hold an extradition hearing, which was conducted by the Governor's counsel on June 17, 1981. Id., at A19. This hearing was only partially transcribed, but the record does show that one of Calder's counsel was permitted to testify to his belief that "a white American man . . . could not receive a fair trial in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico," App. 32a, while Calder himself testified to his understanding that "on numerous occasions" witnesses in Puerto Rican courts had been "bought." Id., at 47a.

After the extradition hearing in Iowa, discussions between and among Calder's counsel, the Governors of Iowa and Puerto Rico, and the prosecutorial authorities in Puerto Rico were held, apparently with a view to negotiating a reduction of the charges lodged against Calder. These discussions were unavailing, and on December 28, 1981, Iowa's Governor, Robert Ray, formally notified the Governor of Puerto Rico that in the absence of a "change to a more realistic charge," the request for extradition was denied. App. to Pet. for Cert. A44. A subsequent extradition request made to Governor Ray's successor in office, respondent Terry Branstad, was also denied. Id., at A21.

On February 15, 1984, petitioner Commonwealth of Puerto Rico filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District ...


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