Tag Archives: extradition

Update on the Alexander Hilton Extradition Case

I’ve written several posts on the extradition case of Alexander Hilton here in Boston. Here’s my summary from the first post:

Hilton, then a student at St. Andrews University, was accused by the Scottish authorities of the attempted murder of Robert Forbes, a fellow student, in March 2011. The claim was that Hilton induced Forbes “to consume a quantity of methanol mixed with red wine.” After the Scottish authorities made a request for extradition, Hilton was arrested on a complaint brought by the US Attorney under 18 U.S.C. § 3184.

Hilton conceded that there was a valid extradition treaty, that the crime charged was covered by the treaty, and that the government had shown probable cause to believe that he had committed the offense charged. However, he resisted extradition. He pointed to his mental health problems, which the magistrate judge could not justify relief. He also claimed that extradition would violate his constitutional rights because under Scots law, Hilton would be tried by a jury of 15, and he could be convicted by a majority vote of the jury.

The magistrate judge rejected this argument and issued a certificate of extraditability.

Continue reading Update on the Alexander Hilton Extradition Case

Hilton Extradition: Petition for Habeas Corpus Denied

Judge Hillman has denied Alexander Hilton’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which Hilton had challenged a magistrate judge’s decision that he could be extradited to the United Kingdom to face trial on charges of the attempted murder of Robert Forbes, a fellow student at St. Andrews University. I covered the petition here and the government’s response to the petition here.

The decision was more or less as expected. Hilton had argued that Scots criminal procedure, specifically the rule allowing a majority jury verdict rather than requiring a unanimous verdict, would violate his due process rights. The judge held that under the rule of non-inquiry, the court could not inquire into the fairness of criminal procedure in Scotland; such questions are for the executive, not the judiciary. The judge rejected Hilton’s arguments that the rule of non-inquiry should not apply because the Senate was unaware of Scotland’s jury rules when it ratified the US/UK extradition treaty, and it rejected his argument that an exception to the rule of non-inquiry existed because the case was exceptional. “The United Kingdom is one of this country’s most trusted treaty partners, not a country likely to have procedures so unfair that the Court should disregard an established rule,” the judge noted.

The judge also rejected Hilton’s arguments that because he suffers from mental illness, he should not be extradited on humanitarian grounds. Again, such questions are for the executive, not the judiciary. This is so even when the United Kingdom itself has refused to extradite defendants to the United States on such grounds. Even if the UK has violated the rule of reciprocity, any response is a matter for the executive, not the judiciary.

Hilton has a right of appeal to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and I think we will likely see a notice of appeal filed. It’s not entirely clear to me whether the magistrate judge’s stay of extradition continues in effect, so we may see some motion practice on that question, too.