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Context of '1952: US Supreme Court Reaffirms Doctrine Underlying Rendition'

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The US Supreme Court rules that American courts are not interested in the manner in which a defendant comes to stand before them. The ruling is issued in the case of Ker v. Illinois, which concerns the rendition from Lima, Peru, of a suspect named Frederick Ker, wanted for larceny in Cook County, Illinois. Ker was seized by a federal agent who bypassed the extradition procedure and placed him on a series of ships that transported him home to face trial. Ker is convicted and the doctrine this case gives rise to—known as the Ker doctrine for a time—will go on to underlie the US’s rendition program at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries. [Grey, 2007, pp. 134-135]

Entity Tags: US Supreme Court, Frederick Ker

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

The US Supreme Court reaffirms the Ker doctrine (see December 6, 1886), which underlies rendition. The court rules on the case of Shirley Collins, who had been convicted of murder in Michigan. Prior to the trial, Collins had lived in Chicago, Illinois. Officers from Michigan came and “forcibly seized, handcuffed, blackjacked, and took him to Michigan.” After being convicted, Collins appealed to the Supreme Court, citing the federal Kidnapping Act and arguing his conviction should be quashed due to the abduction. However the Supreme Court finds that there is “nothing in the Constitution that requires a court to permit a guilty person rightfully convicted to escape justice because he was brought to trial against his will.” [Grey, 2007, pp. 134-135]

Entity Tags: Shirley Collins, US Supreme Court

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

The US Supreme Court reaffirms the Ker-Frisbie doctrine, which states that a US court will not concern itself over how a suspect came to stand before it for trial. The reaffirmation is part of a ruling on the case of Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican doctor allegedly involved in the kidnap and murder of a DEA agent who was rendered from Mexico by US agents without Mexico’s consent under the extradition treaty with the US (see April 1990). The Ker-Frisbie doctrine reaches back to the 19th century and states that US courts have jurisdiction over a criminal defendant regardless of the means by which that defendant was brought before the court, as a breach of general international law principles does not generally affect the jurisdiction of a domestic court. [US House of Representatives, 7/24/1992] However, Alvarez-Machain will be acquitted later by a lower court on the facts of the actual charges. [Grey, 2007, pp. 135]

Entity Tags: Humberto Alvarez-Machain, US Supreme Court

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

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