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COMPTON v. STATE ALABAMA.

decided: May 17, 1909.

COMPTON
v.
STATE OF ALABAMA.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA.

Author: Harlan

[ 214 U.S. Page 4]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

By an affidavit, proper in form and substantially sufficient in its statement of facts, made before a notary public of Fulton County, Georgia, Compton, the plaintiff in error, was charged with having committed the offense of being a common cheat and swindler. The Solicitor of the Criminal Court of Atlanta officially notified the Governor that the accused had been so charged and had fled to Alabama, and a requisition on the Governor of Alabama was asked for the extradition of Compton to the end that he might be brought back to Georgia to be tried according to law for the offense charged.

The Governor of Georgia thereupon made a requisition on the Governor of Alabama who, having received the requisition, issued his warrant for the arrest of Compton, if to be found in Alabama, and his delivery into the custody of the agent of Georgia. Having been arrested under that warrant by a sheriff, the accused sued out a writ of habeas corpus before the judge of the City Court of Montgomery, Alabama, and sought discharge from custody upon the ground that he was illegally restrained of his liberty. The return by the sheriff to the writ justified the detention of Compton under the requisition of the Governor of Georgia and the warrant of arrest issued by the Governor of Alabama.

Upon the hearing of the case before the judge of the Montgomery City Court the accused demurred to the return, and the demurrer having been overruled, he was ordered into the custody of the agent of Georgia for extradition pursuant to law. From that order Compton prosecuted an appeal to the Supreme Court of Alabama, and that court affirmed the order of the Montgomery City Court.

It is contended that the affidavit upon which the Governor of Georgia based his requisition, although certified by him to

[ 214 U.S. Page 5]

     be authentic, was not in compliance with the Revised Statutes of the United States; that the proceedings in Georgia were not sufficient to authorize the Governor of Alabama to issue his warrant of arrest; and that the proceedings on the hearing of the petition for habeas corpus did not show that there had been an indictment against Compton or such an affidavit before a magistrate of Georgia charging the accused with crime, as is required by the statutes of the United States.

In our judgment the only material question not substantially covered by the former decisions of this court is that raised by the objection that the affidavit in Georgia on which the Governor of that State based his requisition was made before a notary public and not before a "magistrate," as required by the Revised Statutes of the United States enacted in the execution of the constitutional provision relating to fugitives from justice. This specific objection was raised by the assignments of error for the Supreme Court of the State, but that court did not seem to have regarded it as of sufficient gravity to be specially noticed in its opinion. But as the objection is covered by the assignment of errors for this court, and as it asserts a right under the laws of the United States, we deem it appropriate to meet and dispose of it.

The proceedings against Compton were had under ยง 5278 of the Revised Statutes, as follows: "Whenever the executive authority of any State or Territory demands any person as a fugitive from justice, of the executive authority of any State or Territory to which said person has fled, and produces a copy of an indictment found or an affidavit made before a magistrate of any State or Territory, charging the person demanded with having committed treason, felony, or other crime, certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate of the State or Territory from whence the person so charged has fled, it shall be the duty of the executive authority of the State or Territory to which said person has fled to cause him to be arrested and secured, and to cause notice of the arrest to be given to the executive authority making such demand, or to

[ 214 U.S. Page 6]

     the agent of such authority appointed to receive the fugitive, and to cause the fugitive to be delivered to such agent when he shall appear. If no such agent appears within six months from the time of the arrest, the prisoner may be discharged. All costs or expenses incurred in the apprehending, securing and transmitting such fugitive to the State or Territory making such demand, shall be paid by such State or Territory."

Undoubtedly, the statute does not make it the duty of a Governor to issue a warrant for the arrest of an alleged fugitive from justice, unless the executive of the demanding State produces to him either a copy of an indictment against the accused in the demanding State or an affidavit before a magistrate of such State charging the fugitive with the commission of crime in the State making the demand. It is, we think; equally clear that the executive of the State in which the fugitive is at the time may decline to honor the requisition of the Governor of the demanding State if the latter fails to furnish a copy of an indictment against the accused, or of any affidavit before a magistrate. But has the executive of the State, upon whom the demand is made for the arrest and extradition of the fugitive, the power to issue his warrant of arrest for a crime committed in another State, unless he is furnished with a copy of the required indictment or affidavit? We are of opinion that he has not, so far as any authority in respect to fugitives from justice has been conferred upon him by the statute of the United States. The statute, we think, makes it essential to the right to arrest the alleged fugitive under a warrant of the executive of the State where the alleged fugitive is found that such executive be furnished, before issuing his warrant, with a copy of an indictment or an affidavit before a magistrate in the ...


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