Puerto Rico v. Branstad

LOCATION: Arizona State Prison

DOCKET NO.: 85-2116
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 483 US 219 (1987)
ARGUED: Mar 30, 1987
DECIDED: Jun 23, 1987

Brent R. Appel - Argued the cause for the respondents
Lino J. Saldana - Argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case

Ronald Calder was a native of Iowa working in Puerto Rico, He was charged with first degree murder and attempted murder. After posting bail, he fled to his home state. Puerto Rico submitted a petition to Branstad, Iowa's governor at the time, to extradite Calder for court proceedings. Branstad refused.


Do federal courts have the power to order governors to fulfill obligations under the Constitution's Extradition Clause in Article IV, Section 2?

Media for Puerto Rico v. Branstad

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 30, 1987 in Puerto Rico v. Branstad

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear arguments first this morning in No. 85-2116, Puerto Rico again Branstad.

Mr. Saldana, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Lino J. Saldana:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

Petitioner in this case requested extradition of Mr. Ronald Calder, who was charged with murder and attempted murder, and is a fugitive from the courts of justice in the courts of Puerto Rico, and had fled to Iowa.

The Governor of Iowa denied extradition.

The commonwealth filed a complaint in the District Court for the Southern District of Iowa seeking a writ of mandamus directing the Governor to extradite Calder.

The writ was refused.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.

The case is here on certiorari.

The issue is whether or not the Federal courts have power to order the governor of a state to extradite a fugitive from justice in the courts of Puerto Rico who has been accused of murder and attempted murder.

There is no dispute in this case that the extradition request made by Puerto Rico fully complies with all statutory and constitutional requirements.

There is no dispute, either, that the duty of the Governor of Iowa to extradite Mr. Calder is an absolute duty, both mandatory and ministerial, under the Constitution and the statute.

All that is at issue here is whether the court, the Federal court, may command the governor to obey that duty, or whether the governor may violate it with impunity.

Now the facts are as follows.

Mr. Ronald Calder on... in 1981 drover his car into a married couple in a parking lot of a grocery store in Puerto Rico.

The husband was injured but survived.

His pregnant wife was killed, as well as her unborn child.

The justice... a judge, I'm sorry, of the Superior Court of Puerto Rico, after a preliminary hearing, found probable cause to charge Calder with murder and attempted murder.

This was done after a hearing, as I said, in which the judge heard testimony from sworn witnesses, and in which Calder was represented by counsel.

The witnesses, the eyewitnesses, told the judge that Calder had deliberately run his car over... drove his car into the couple, attempted to run down the couple with his car, and that after the wife was down, he repeatedly run over the body, her body, with his car.

Mr. Calder was freed on bail after the District Attorney filed informations against him for these two alleged crimes, and he failed to appear at two successive hearings in the criminal case.

And the court... another judge in the district... in the Superior Court ordered him to be arrested, issued a warrant of arrest, after declaring him a fugitive.

He was found in Iowa, his native state, and there a request was made to the Governor of Iowa that Calder be extradited.

The request of the Governor of Puerto Rico was... fully complied with all the requirements, both statutory and constitutional.

In spite of that, an extradition hearing was held.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Iowa was his home, was it not?

Lino J. Saldana:

Iowa was his home, yes, sir.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Do you know why so low a bond was imposed under a murder charge?

Lino J. Saldana:

In Puerto Rico, you mean, sir?

Harry A. Blackmun:

Yes, in Puerto Rico.