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Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain

Supreme Court of the United States

March 30, 2004, Argued ; June 29, 2004, Decided 1

No. 03-339, No. 03-485

Opinion

  [*697]   [**2746]  Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court.

The two issues are whether respondent Alvarez-Machain's allegation that the Drug Enforcement Administration instigated his abduction from Mexico for criminal trial in the United States supports a claim against the Government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA or Act), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b)(1),  2671-2680[28 USCS §§ 1346(b)(1), 2671-2680], and whether he may recover under the Alien Tort Statute [****11]  (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350 [28 USCS § 1350]. We hold that he is not entitled to a remedy under either statute.

We have considered the underlying facts before, United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655, 119 L. Ed. 2d 441, 112 S. Ct. 2188 (1992).  In 1985, an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Enrique Camarena-Salazar, was captured on assignment in Mexico and taken to a house in Guadalajara, where he was tortured over the course of a 2-day interrogation, then murdered. Based in part on eyewitness testimony, DEA officials in the United States came to believe that respondent Humberto Alvarez-Machain (Alvarez), a Mexican physician, was present at the house and acted to prolong the agent's life in order to extend the interrogation and torture. Id., at 657, 119 L. Ed. 2d 441, 112 S. Ct. 2188.

In 1990, a federal grand jury indicted Alvarez for the torture and murder of Camarena-Salazar, and the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a  [*698]  warrant for his arrest. 331 F.3d 604, 609 (CA9 2003) (en banc). The DEA asked the Mexican Government for help in getting Alvarez into the United States, but when the requests and negotiations proved fruitless, the [****12]  DEA approved a plan to hire Mexican nationals to seize Alvarez and bring him to the United States for trial. As so planned, a group of Mexicans, including petitioner Jose Francisco Sosa, abducted Alvarez from his house, held him overnight in a motel, and brought him by private plane to El Paso, Texas, where he was arrested by federal officers. Ibid.

Once in American custody, Alvarez moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that his seizure was "outrageous governmental conduct," Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S., at 658, 119 L. Ed. 2d 441, 112 S. Ct. 2188, and violated the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico. The District Court agreed, the Ninth  [***733]  Circuit affirmed, and we reversed, id., at 670, 119 L. Ed. 2d 441, 112 S. Ct. 2188, holding that the fact of Alvarez's forcible seizure did not affect the jurisdiction of a federal court. The case was tried in 1992, and ended at the close of the Government's case, when the District Court granted Alvarez's motion for a judgment of acquittal.

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542 U.S. 692 *; 124 S. Ct. 2739 **; 159 L. Ed. 2d 718 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4763 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4660; 158 Oil & Gas Rep. 601; 2004 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 515

JOSE FRANCISCO SOSA, Petitioner v. HUMBERTO ALVAREZ-MACHAIN et al. UNITED STATES, Petitioner v. HUMBERTO ALVAREZ-MACHAIN et al.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

 Alvarez-Machain v. United States, 331 F.3d 604, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 10949 (9th Cir. Cal., 2003)

Disposition: Reversed.

CORE TERMS

federal court, national law, international law, foreign country, common law, courts, cases, headquarters, arrest, act or omission, cause of action, omission, detention, federal common law, violation of law, district court, foreign law, customary, violations, universal, damages, alien, authorization, choice-of-law, Continental, treaty, rights, international norms, take place, foreign-country

Administrative Law, Sovereign Immunity, Torts, Federal Tort Claims Act, Exclusions From Liability, Intentional Torts, Governments, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Liability, General Overview, Scope of Employment, Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Immigration Law, Enforcement of Immigration Laws, Civil Liability, International Law, Dispute Resolution, Remedies, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Public Entity Liability, Immunities, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Forum & Place, Procedural Matters, Commencement & Prosecution, Jurisdiction, Foreign & International Immunity, Sovereign Immunity, Federal Tort Claims Act, Waivers, Foreign Countries, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Elements, Causation, Proximate Cause, Conflict of Law, Place of Injury, Discretionary Functions, Legislation, Interpretation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, International Trade Law, Sources of International Law, Jurisdictional Sources, Preliminary Considerations, Federal Common Law, Individuals & Sovereign States, Human Rights, Arbitrary Detention, Criminal Law & Procedure, Preliminary Proceedings, Arraignments, Procedural Matters, Torture, Bail, Delays in Granting of Bail