Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

The Broad Interpretation of "Lapse of Time" Provides Protections beyond the Bounds of the U.S.-Mex. Treaty

Academic journal article Suffolk Transnational Law Review

The Broad Interpretation of "Lapse of Time" Provides Protections beyond the Bounds of the U.S.-Mex. Treaty

Article excerpt

The United States Extradition Treaty with Mexico is in place, as an agreement between the two sovereign nations, for the purpose of honoring each nation's laws. (1) Article 7 of the U.S.-Mexico Extradition Treaty (Extradition Treaty) provides "[e]xtradition shall not be granted when the prosecution or the enforcement of the penalty for the offense for which extradition has been sought has become barred by lapse of time according to the laws of the requesting or requested Party." (2) In Martinez v. United States, (3) the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was pressed with the question of whether there are grounds to bar an extradition under the language of Article 7, "lapse of time," for violating the Sixth Amendment protections of a speedy trial. (4) The Sixth Circuit considered whether the interpretation of "lapse of time" encompassed the Sixth Amendment's Speedy Trial Clause, which would prohibit the extradition of Avelino Cruz Martinez (Martinez). (5)

Martinez, a Mexican citizen, lived in a small community of approximately two hundred people in Santa Maria Natividad, Ixpantepec Nieves, Silacayoapan, in Oaxaca, Mexico. (6) On December 31, 2005, Martinez and his cousin visited the town's New Year's Eve celebration, where Martinez approached Samuel Francisco Solano Cruz (Cruz), shook his hand, and then drew his weapon. (7) An altercation ensued: two men were shot and killed. (8) On January 12, 2006, Martinez made an agreement with the family members of one of the victims, Cruz, to pay MXN50,000 and admit to being the person who committed the murders. (9) Some time between December 31, 2005, and April of 2006, Martinez moved to Lebanon, Tennessee, United States. (10) Mexican officials issued an arrest warrant for Martinez on February 23, 2006. (11)

On September 11, 2009, U.S. officials contacted the U.S. consular official in Mexico, inquiring about the arrest warrant for Martinez. (12) Despite the warrant's status of pending and executable, no arrest or follow-up was completed at that time. (13) Subsequent to this inquiry, Martinez obtained his U.S. citizenship in October of 2010. (14) It was not until May 21, 2012, that Mexico submitted a formal "diplomatic note" invoking the Extradition Treaty to have Martinez arrested and extradited. (15) On behalf of the Mexican government, on June 11, 2013, the United States filed a complaint with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, seeking to arrest Martinez for purposes of extradition. (16)

Martinez was arrested on August 20, 2013. (17) On January 17, 2014, the district court held Martinez should be extradited under the treaty provisions. (18) The magistrate overseeing the ex tradition proceeding reasoned that the right to a speedy trial is not applicable in extradition hearings. (19) In response to the court's decision, Martinez filed a writ of habeas corpus denouncing his extradition. (20)

Article VI of the Constitution of the United States provides that treaties should be treated as supreme law of the land. (21) Due to this remarkable treatment, treaties are as binding as legislation and the interpretation of them is critical. (22) To interpret a treaty, a court must liberally construe the text to determine the meaning intended between the two countries. (23) Historically, the phrase "lapse of time" has been interpreted as the equivalent of "statute of limitations." (24) Despite the historical use of "lapse of time," courts are in conflict as to whether the "lapse of time" has the ability to incorporate the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution's Speedy Trial Clause outside of context of criminal prosecutions, under the current laws of the land. (25)

The Sixth Amendment provides a right to a speedy trial and serves the purpose of protecting citizens from unfair prejudice in a criminal proceeding. (26) In determining whether a defendant has been denied rights, courts apply the four balancing factors established in Barker v. …

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