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Patterson v. Wagner

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

May 4, 2015

ARTHUR JOHN PATTERSON, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
BARBARA WAGNER, Warden, Respondent-Appellee

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California November 21, 2014

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:12-cv-09960-ODW. Otis D. Wright II, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY [**]

Habeas Corpus

The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of Arthur Patterson's habeas corpus petition challenging a magistrate judge's order certifying him for extradition to South Korea for prosecution for murder.

Patterson argued that his extradition would violate the 1998 extradition treaty between the United States and South Korea because his prosecution would be barred by the statute of limitations in the United States, and thus would violate the treaty's lapse-of-time provision. The panel held that the treaty's lapse-of-time provision, which states that extradition " may be denied" when the prosecution would have been barred by the statute of limitations in the United States, does not impose a mandatory bar to extradition.

Patterson also argued that his extradition would violate the double-jeopardy provision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing American military personnel, and their dependents, in South Korea. The panel disagreed with the premise that rights conferred by the SOFA may be enforced by the judiciary to block extradition.

Craig Anthony Harbaugh (argued), Isaacs/Friedberg, LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Nancy Spiegel (argued), Assistant United States Attorney, Los Angeles, California, for Respondent-Appellee.

Before: William A. Fletcher and Jay S. Bybee, Circuit Judges, and David A. Ezra, District Judge.[*] Opinion by Judge W. Fletcher.

OPINION

Page 1278

W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge

As a teenager, Arthur Patterson was convicted in a South Korean court of destroying evidence in connection with a murder. After serving his prison term, Patterson left Korea for the United States. The South Korean government now seeks to prosecute him for the murder itself and requests that the United States extradite him. Over Patterson's objections, a magistrate judge certified him for extradition. Patterson filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the certification order. The district court denied Patterson's petition.

Patterson argues that his extradition would violate (1) the extradition treaty between the United States and South Korea and (2) the Status of Forces Agreement governing American military personnel and their dependents in South Korea. We conclude that neither the treaty nor the agreement bars extradition. We therefore affirm.

I. Background

In 1997, Arthur Patterson, a seventeen-year-old son of an American serviceman stationed in South Korea, was involved in some manner in the murder of a Korean college student, Cho Joong-pil, in a Burger King restroom in Seoul. Patterson and

Page 1279

his friend Edward Lee followed Cho into the restroom and came out covered in blood. Afterwards, each accused the other of having stabbed Cho. Almost twenty years later, South Korea seeks to prosecute Patterson for murder. Its extradition request alleges that Cho was stabbed with Patterson's knife, that Patterson threw the knife in a sewer after the stabbing, and that two of Patterson's friends have stated that Patterson told them that he killed Cho.

In the immediate aftermath of the murder, South Korean authorities accepted Patterson's claim that Lee, not Patterson, was the murderer. They prosecuted Lee for murder and Patterson for destruction of evidence. Patterson was convicted of destruction of evidence and served slightly more than a year in prison. In 1999, after his release from prison, Patterson left South Korea for the United States. Lee was convicted of murder, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. The South Korean government prosecuted Lee again, and he was acquitted.

In 2009, South Korean prosecutors obtained a warrant for Patterson's arrest and sent an extradition request to the United States government. In 2011, the U.S. government sought and obtained an arrest warrant and arrested Patterson. The government then filed a complaint in federal district court seeking Patterson's extradition to South Korea. Patterson opposed extradition. He argued that because the murder occurred in 1997, and because he had already been tried and convicted of a crime related to the murder, two international agreements bar extradition for the prosecution South Korea now seeks to bring.

A magistrate judge rejected Patterson's arguments and certified him for extradition. Patterson then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court denied the petition, and Patterson timely appealed.

II. Discussion

A. Extradition

A state party to an extradition treaty ordinarily must comply with a request of another state party to arrest and deliver a person sought by that state for criminal prosecution. See Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States ยง 478 (1987 & 2014 Supp.). Extradition rests on the premise that " [a]ll nations have a common interest in the repression of ...


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