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Hababou v. Albright

January 20, 1999

PHILIPE HABABOU, PETITIONER,
V.
MADELINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge:

HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE

OPINION

In this case the Court is called upon to decide whether new domestic criminal charges can justify the United States government's continued detention of an individual on an extradition warrant even after he has agreed to surrender to the French government. For reasons discussed herein, the Court finds that the deadline for extradition pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3188, which provides that an individual ordinarily must be delivered to the demanding government within two months of surrender, must be applied in light of the governing Extradition Treaty between the United States and France, and that the United States has demonstrated sufficient cause for petitioner's continued detention while awaiting completion of his federal criminal trial.

This matter has been brought before the Court on application of petitioner Philipe Hababou for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Hababou, an inmate at the Union County Jail in Elizabeth, New Jersey, who moves this Court to set bail or release him from custody pending his extradition to France, where he was convicted in absentia of fencing stolen money, falsification of checks and using falsified checks.

The gravamen of petitioner's argument is that the extradition complaint should be dismissed because he was not surrendered to France within two calendar months as provided by the Extradition Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3188. However, simple inertia is not the reason for petitioner's continued detention in this country. Rather, petitioner has been detained because, after the Secretary of State issued the warrant for surrender at the conclusion of Hababou's extradition proceedings on May 25, 1999, the United States indicted Hababou on securities fraud charges on June 18, 1999. As a result, the government seeks his detention here until the domestic prosecution--which is complex and is not scheduled for trial until six months from now--is complete. The primary issues for decision in this petition, therefore, are (1) whether petitioner is entitled to release under 18 U.S.C. § 3188, and (2) whether petitioner has argued sufficient "special circumstances" to compel his release on bail because his trial on domestic charges has been delayed. For reasons discussed herein, the Court will resolve both questions in favor of the respondent, and will deny petitioner's motion for habeas relief.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the record before the Court, petitioner was arrested in the District of New Jersey on December 23, 1998, for extradition to France, where he was convicted in absentia for fencing stolen money, falsification of checks and using falsified checks. (Resp't's Br. at 2.) On December 28, 1998, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel B. Rosen ordered petitioner detained without bond. Id. At petitioner's counsel's request, the extradition hearing on the French charges was continued on at least two occasions. Id. On March 18, 1999, the court held the extradition hearing, and on April 1, 1999, Judge Rosen certified petitioner's extraditability and committed him to the custody of the United States Marshals Service pending surrender in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3181. (Resp't's Ex. A.) On April 19, 1999, petitioner notified the court that he waived all rights to a habeas corpus petition or any other appeal of the extradition and requested that he be returned to France immediately. (Resp't's Ex. B.)

Subsequently, on May 5, 1999, the Department of State requested assurances from the Government of France that petitioner will receive a new trial, if requested, because he was tried in absentia. (Resp't's Ex. C.) On May 21, the French government stated that petitioner will receive a new trial, if requested. (Resp't's Ex. D.) With assurances in place, the Department of State issued a surrender warrant on May 25, 1999. (Resp't's Ex. E.)

On May 29, 1999, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey filed a complaint against petitioner alleging twenty-three counts of securities fraud. (Resp't's Ex. F.) A hearing on the U.S. charges was held on June 11, 1999. At that time, petitioner withdrew his request for bail on the U.S. charges. He was subsequently indicted on June 18, 1999, United States v. Hababou, 99-CR-336 (WGB)(D.N.J.).

On June 11, 1999, petitioner filed a Motion for Bail or Release Pending Disposition of Extradition Proceeding or, in the Alternative, For Dismissal of the Extradition Complaint before Magistrate Judge Rosen. On July 21, 1999, petitioner and the United States Attorney's Office consented to a continuance of the domestic trial until at least June 2000. Judge Rosen dismissed his motion without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction on July 29, 1999, and petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2255 on August 5, 1999.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

Petitioner has filed this motion for release pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Court finds, however, that § 2255 is inapplicable, because that statute applies only to prisoners in custody under the sentence of a federal court. Mr. Hababou is not in custody pursuant to a sentence of a court of the United States, but rather under an extradition surrender warrant.

This Court has jurisdiction to review the lawfulness of this detention under the power of federal habeas corpus, as codified in 28 U.S.C. ยง 2241(c)(3), which extends relief to one who is held federal custody "in violation of ...


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