International Law Outline



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US v. Alvarez-Machain – SCOTUS – 1992 (404)

  1. Mexican doctor AM indicted in US for participation in murder of CS, undercover DEA officer. Forcibly kidnapped by MX nationals from office and flown to TX, where arrested by DEA.

    1. AM complained abduction violated extradition treaty between US and Mexico

  2. Underlying cases

    1. US v. Rauscher – 1886doctrine of specialty - prohibited prosecution of R for crime OTHER than the crime for which he had been extradited (according to proper procedures in extradition treaty)

    2. Ker v. Illinois – 1886D forcibly abducted from Peru, and then tried and convicted in IL. Proper warrant had been issued, but messenger chose to forcibly kidnap instead.

      1. Distinguished from R – not according to process, decided K had no right under extradition treaty to be RETURNED. Found once you’re in jx, you’re subject to trial – can’t contest legality of abduction.

  3. Can you distinguish Ker because gov’t wasn’t involved there, but involved here?

  4. REHNQUIST Majority – Textual

    1. Must first establish whether abduction violated extradition treaty. If NO, Ker applies, and court doesn’t look to how AM got before it.

      1. In construing treaty – look to terms and implied terms. Here, saying treaty doesn’t specify that extradition is ONLY way one country can get custody of other’s national.

      2. Rejects state’s rights idea – Court of Appeals said state had to lodge former protests.

    2. Decision of whether to return is EXECUTIVE decision. Since it didn’t violate treaty, Ker rule applies re: not inquiring into how jx was attained.

      1. Ignores fact that every other jurisdiction would deem this a violation of int’l law

  5. STEVENS Dissent – Purposive

    1. Treaty only makes sense if interpret it as REQUIRING each signatory to comply with these procedures

    2. Fails to distinguish between private conduct and gov’t authorized conduct

  • Responses to AM?

    1. Domestically

      1. Nothing changed language of Treaty (though Bush promised no more abductions)

      2. 1992 – created Treaty to Prohibit Transborder Abductions with MX, but this has never been submitted to S for A&C.

    2. Internationally

      1. Everyone rejects – governments, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Organization of American States

      2. BUT, when other states make extradition treaties, still using the same language

        1. Implicit acceptance of AM decision?

        2. OR, would give ridiculous decision credence if changed anything?

  • Other jurisdictions?


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