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Fejfar v. United States

United States District Court, D. Oregon

December 6, 2017

Miroslav Fejfar, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael J. McShane United States District Judge

         Miroslav Fejfar, a citizen of the Czech Republic residing in the United States, brings this petition for writ of habeas corpus, challenging Magistrate Judge Papak's certification of an extradition request to send Mr. Fejfar back to the Czech Republic. Because Judge Papak did not err in certifying the request for extradition, and did not err in declining to stay certification, the petition is DENIED.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND [1]

         It is undisputed that in April 2001, despite his claims that law officials framed him, Mr. Fejfar was convicted in a Czech court of extortion and inducement to commit the offense of endangering the safety of the public. On July 31, 2001, the Municipal Court in Prague dismissed Mr. Fejfar's appeal and affirmed his three year sentence. The parties agree that under Czech law, the execution of Mr. Fejfar's sentence had a statute of limitations of five years. It is the tolling of this limitation period that is at the heart of the extradition proceedings challenged by Mr. Fejfar. In September 2001, the Czech trial court issued an order to deliver Mr. Fejfar to prison to enforce the sentence. For reasons unclear-and any possible reasons are immaterial to the issues presented-the Czech police never arrested Mr. Fejfar.

         The parties agree that absent any tolling, Mr. Fejfar's April 2001 sentence would lapse in April 2006. The issue of tolling centers on whether a January 2006 order, issued by a clerk in the Czech trial court, “interrupted” (i.e., tolled) the limitations period.[2] Mr. Fejfar argues that because the 2006 order was unsealed and issued by a clerk rather than a judge, it did not interrupt the limitations period and Mr. Fejfar's sentence lapsed in April 2006. On the other hand, if the 2006 order interrupted (and thus restarted) the limitations period, the parties agree that Mr. Fejfar's sentence has not lapsed.

         In 2010, the Czech court issued an international arrest warrant for Mr. Fejfar. On June 11, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security initiated a removal proceeding against Mr. Fejfar for overstaying his visa. Two months later, the Czech government formally requested Mr. Fejfar's extradition pursuant to the extradition treaty between it and the United States.

         Mr. Fejfar conceded his removability in the immigration proceedings and filed for asylum on January 23, 2013. On March 31, 2016, the United States filed a petition for Mr. Fejfar's arrest with a view towards extradition. On September 22, 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) administratively closed Mr. Fejfar's removal proceeding in the immigration court pending resolution of his extradition proceeding.[3]

         On December 5, 2016, Judge Papak presided over a hearing concerning the contested certification for extradition. Mr. Fejfar argued his sentence had lapsed and, in the alternative, that Judge Papak should stay extradition pending the outcome of either: (1) his asylum proceedings; or (2) his ongoing challenge in Czech courts that his sentence had lapsed. Judge Papak rejected Mr. Fejfar's claims and certified the extradition request to the Secretary of State. This petition for writ of habeas corpus followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Review of a certification of extradition is only possible through a writ of habeas corpus. Valencia v. Limbs, 655 F.2d 195, 197 (9th Cir. 1981). The scope of habeas review of an extradition order is very narrow and this Court shall not rehear what the magistrate court has already decided. Fernandez v. Philips, 268 U.S. 311, 312 (1925). Rather, the reviewing court inquires only into whether the Judge certifying extradition had jurisdiction over the case and whether the evidence provided created a reasonable inference that the fugitive was guilty of an offense included in the Treaty. Id. When conducting a habeas corpus review for extradition purposes, factual findings are reviewed for clear error, while legal conclusions are reviewed de novo. Santos v. Thomas, 830 F.3d 987, 1001 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc).

         DISCUSSION

         Here, it is undisputed that the magistrate judge had jurisdiction over Mr. Fejfar's extradition proceeding and that the convictions are extraditable offenses pursuant to Article II of the Treaty.[4] 18 U.S.C. § 3184. Mr. Fejfar argues only that Judge Papak erred in certifying the extradition request because his sentence had lapsed and he therefore has no sentence left to serve. In the alternative, Mr. Fejfar argues Judge Papak: 1) violated his due process rights by certifying the request for extradition before Mr. Fajfer adjudicated his immigration proceedings; and 2) erred by declining to stay the extradition proceedings pending resolution of either Mr. Fejfar's immigration claims, or his ongoing litigation in the Czech Republic.

         I. The statute of limitations for Mr. Fejfar's sentence has not lapsed

         The parties agree that if Mr. Fejfar's conviction lapsed, it cannot serve as the basis for extradition under the treaty.[5] The parties also agree that if the 2006 order issued by the clerk “interrupted” the April 2001 conviction, Mr. Fejfar's limitation period resets as of 2006 and his limitations argument fails.

         Because the 2006 order was unsealed, Mr. Fejfar takes the position that it was invalid and cannot serve as an “interruption” of the 2001 conviction.[6] In support of this argument, Mr. Fejfar provides several expert reports from Czech attorneys, scholars, and judges, offering their thoughts on the 2006 order's impact on the 2001 conviction. While the arguments raised are interesting, they were already made to, and rejected by, multiple Czech courts during Mr.Fejfar's earlier appeals.[7]

         Under Czech law, the statute of limitations is “interrupted . . . if the court takes steps to enforce a sentence to which the limitation period is related[.]” Ex. U at 13. “Interruption of the limitation period starts a new limitation period.” Id. The record contains several exchanges regarding the statute of limitations between the United States Department of Justice and the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic.[8] On November 2, 2015, the Ministry of Justice stated:

The limitation period was interrupted by issuing the order of 5 September 2001 that the person must be delivered for the execution of the sentence and on 8 October 2001 when the competent court bided the convict to start serving the prison sentence within the determined time limit. Consequently, the period was also interrupted on 18 January 2006 when the competent ...

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