A habeas petitioner, wanted in California on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, was subject to extradition based on proper authorization and identification contained in California’s documents requesting such extradition from Virginia. The petitioner will remain detained pending appeal.
Petitioner Jose Soriano is currently incarcerated at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center pursuant to a warrant from the Governor of Virginia at the request of the Governor of California. The Governor of California seeks the return of Soriano as a fugitive from justice, being charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of criminal street-gang conspiracy to commit murder. Fairfax police arrested Soriano on October 25, 2017. He declined to waive extradition.
The district attorney for Santa Barbara County filed an Application for Requisition containing a warrant and the indictment. The warrant included an alleged physical description of Soriano, and the application also included an affidavit asserting that the fingerprint comparison with Fairfax’s arrest records matched those on record with the FBI and ICE. On November 30, 2017, the Office of the Governor of California issued a Requisition and Agent Appointment to the Governor of Virginia, incorporating the Application by reference. Interstate Rendition Officer Kristina Lindquist signed the requisition, and the California Secretary of State affirmed it on December 5, 2017.
Soriano has petitioned this court for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to Code § 19.2-95, seeking release from incarceration based on alleged defects in State of California’s pursuit of extradition.
The request from the Governor of California doesn’t appear to comply with Virginia or federal law in that it is not an entreaty executed by him. The governor states in the document: “[A]cting through my duly authorized Interstate Rendition Officer, [I] do hereby respectfully demand that the above-named fugitive from justice be arrested, secured, and delivered ….” Nowhere is there a signature from the governor authorizing his agent to perform this act. However, the Commonwealth has presented a duly certified record reflecting the governor’s appointment of Lindquist as his agent, pursuant to the California Penal Code.
While both 18 U.S.C. § 3182 and Virginia Code § 19.2-87 require an extradition request to be made by the governor, neither provision specifies that he may not act through an agent. Thus, this court must give Full Faith and Credit to the manner in which the extradition request is communicated. The fact that the agent is duly authorized by the governor and has signed in her official capacity as interstate rendition officer is sufficient to lawfully exercise the governor of California’s request.
The copy of Soriano’s indictment is sufficient for purposes of Code § 19.2-87 in that it names him with particularity and accurately describes his approximate age range. Moreover, California authorities attached a further identifying document to the extradition demand that contains numerous additional identifiers, including Soriano’s alien registration number matched to his fingerprint card.
Despite Soriano’s argument that he merely has an identical name to the one charged in the indictment, all § 19.2-87 requires is that the requesting state accurately name the fugitive sought and then designate with particularity that it is Soriano whose extradition they seek. The requesting authorities have met this burden.
At present, it is clear that appellate jurisdiction over circuit court habeas corpus extradition proceedings rests with the Supreme Court of Virginia. This proceeding being civil, this court has the authority to suspend execution of its final order in application of Code § 8.01-676.1(C) and (J). The judgment is not monetary in nature. No security must be posted as a prelude to allowing its execution to be held in abeyance without dispossessing such judgment of its appealable finality. Soriano will, in any case, remain detained without bond at the Fairfax detention center while in Virginia, whether awaiting resolution of an appeal or the effecting of his extradition.
Should this court be found not to have statutory authority to suspend execution of its judgment in order to enable Soriano to appeal this court’s merits ruling, this court additionally has the inherent authority to order Soriano to remain in Virginia while his appeal is adjudicated. Based on the supreme court’s recent petition denial in Padilla v. Commonwealth, No. 151818 (Va. 2016), this court concludes that when its orders are arguably subject to appellate review, it should not thwart appeal by inaction that causes the appeal to be mooted. Thus, the court is compelled to fashion an order that allows Soriano to remain in Virginia until his appeal is finalized.
Soriano v. Commonwealth, Case No. CL18-303, Mar. 19, 2018. Fairfax Cir. Ct. (Bernhard). Michael J. McMillin for Petitioner; Maureen Cummins and Bridget A. Corridon for Respondent. VLW No. 018-8-026, 17 pp.