International House of Dan: September 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Just For The Record...

The "caption" on the margin of this blog clearly indicates that I disapproved of Nancy Grace long before it was cool...

Mexico vs. "Dog The Bounty Hunter", Part I

While on my recent fact-finding mission to Waikiki (I have found that my parents are great!) I came across the news that Hawai'i resident and A&E mainstay "Dog the Bounty Hunter" was detained by federal agents yesterday pending a hearing over his possible extradition to Mexico to face kidnapping charges.

The case arises out of Duane "Dog" Chapman's 2003 detention of "Max Factor heir"* and convicted rapist Andrew Luster in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. In October of 2002, Luster was on trial in California on over 85 counts arising from the drugging and rape of 3 women. He was released during trial on a $1 million bond and fled the state in January of 2003, during the proceedings against him. Luster was later convicted in absentia and sentenced to 124 years in prison. The following Summer, Chapman tracked Luster to Puerto Vallarta and was himself arrested by Mexican authorities who were summoned by bystanders while he was detaining Luster.

Bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, so Chapman's successful attempt to deliver Luster to U.S. federal authorities resulted in charges of criminal association and deprivation of liberty filed by Judge Jose de Jesus Pineda against Chapman and his associates. Chapman was eventually released from jail on $1,300 bail, but ordered to check in with Mexican authorities on Mondays. Chapman and his crew pledged to cooperate with local proceedings, but they returned to the U.S. following their release and have apparently remained here since. Judge Pineda's demand for an explanation resulted in the revocation of Chapman's bail, and the Mexican government immediately sought his extradition back to Mexico.

Why am I wasting my time writing about this curious but otherwise celebrity-related case? Because it provides a unique opportunity to discuss two topics in international criminal law and procedure: extradition, and trial in absentia. Over the next few days I will further examine these two issues and attempt to develop them within the context of the Chapman-Luster case, as well as within the broader field of U.S.-Mexico relations.

Cross-border extrajudicial kidnapping is certainly nothing new to our Mexico policy (see U.S. v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655 (1992) - the SCOTUS basically ruled that since the extradition treaty does not prohibit extrajudicial kidnapping, the DEA could pay Mexican nationals to kidnap the suspect and fly him to Texas for arrest), and the Chapman-Luster case involves so many sides of the same coin that it should be a good tool for the study of these issues (it certainly feels a lot like a "Jessup" fact pattern!**).

* Luster is the great-grandson of Max Factor, creator of the... Max Factor cosmetics line. While headlines have consistently referred to Luster as "cosmetics heir" and "Max Factor heir" while referencing his "life of ease", I am not sure that beyond a trust fund created by his grandmother for his benefit he is actually an "heir" of Factor's fortune.

** Participants in the Jessup competition have to defend the actions of one side while attacking the actions of another, but the fact pattern they are presented with is such that the actions of each side are frustratingly similar: for example, arguing that Chapman should not be forced to return to Mexico for violating his bond but that Luster should have to return to the U.S. for violating his.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Useful Electoral Links

What better way is there for me to provide all of you with hours of entertainment and information while keeping my typing to a minimum? Why, to give you an overview of a couple of the various links that are out there so that you might do your own research and form opinions about the various upcoming elections this fall!! This way, each of you can look into the campaigns you are most concerned about and I save myself the trouble of writing 10 pages on the Roskam-Duckworth race (IL-6) only to get asked why I'm ignoring the (arguably) nationally more significant Talent-McCaskill showdown* (MO-S), or why I don't think Kinky Friedman would make a good governor of Texas (the further demystification of American public office, generally, his policy on immigration, specifically, and the fact that I've read one of his books... for starters).

In my humble opinion, the best starting point for anyone following a particular race (or for aimlessly drifting state-by-state in search of a race to follow) is the New York Times 2006 Election Guide (log-in may be required). My only tip for newcomers to this interactive Senate, House, and Gubernatorial tour of the nation's campaigns is that when you click on a state you should scroll down for the information. This tip could save you hours of cursing your slow computer while staring at an unchanged U.S. map.

Next would be This is not as user-friendly, and a lot of the national data will already be available at the NYT site, but Politics1 will still be around after the electoral hype is over, and it will give you access to state race links not available on the NYT site.

Recently brought to my attention, The Talking Points Memo can be a bit partisan (...just a bit), but gives interesting background details on races. This is an interesting stop when trying to learn about an unfamiliar race, but then again, it is still a blog... which seems like a good place to stop. After all, there are probably thousands of different sites purporting to do in-depth analysis of any and all campaigns and angles (relevant or not), and I don't think any of us really have the time for that...

* The NYT Guide lists Missouri (along with CT and OH) as "up for grabs". On Friday 9/8, President Bush's brief stop in Kansas City drew roughly 400 protesters and helped Republican Senator Jim Talent raise about $600,000. President Clinton appeared at a St. Louis pageant today, followed by a fundraising brunch for challenger Claire McCaskill. Organizers say Mr. Clinton's visit drew a million dollars in checks.