Letters rogatory are the customary method of obtaining
from abroad in the absence of a treaty or executive agreement. A
rogatory is a request from a judge in the United States to the
a foreign country requesting the performance of an act which, if
without the sanction of the foreign court, would constitute a
that country's sovereignty. Prosecutors should assume that the
take a year or more. Letters rogatory are customarily transmitted
diplomatic channel, a time-consuming means of transmission. The
involved may be shortened by transmitting a copy of the request
Interpol, or through some other more direct route, but even in
the request may take over a month to execute. See Paragraph
(fifth item re translation and transmission).|
- Content: The form of a letter rogatory
the country to which it is addressed and the assistance sought.
countries have statutory guidelines for granting assistance.
United States Attorneys should seek specific guidance from the
International Affairs (OIA) before drafting a letter rogatory.
this Manual at 281 (drafting
- Letters rogatory generally include: (1) background (who is
investigating whom and for what charge); (2) the facts (enough
about the case for the foreign judge to conclude that a crime has
committed and to see the relevance of the evidence that is being
(3) assistance requested (be specific but include an elastic clause
subsequent expansion of the request without filing an additional
rogatory); (4) the text of the statutes alleged to have been
(5) a promise of reciprocity.
- Letters rogatory must be signed by a judge and, normally,
authenticated by (1) an apostille, (2) an exemplification
certificate, (3) a
chain certificate of authentication, or (4) as directed by OIA. If
requested state has ratified the Hague Convention Abolishing the
of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, it is preferable to
apostille. The chain certification is a cumbersome process
authentication by the Department of Justice, the Department of
the embassy of the foreign country to which the letter rogatory is
Consult OIA to ascertain which method to use because
requirements change frequently.
- Procedure: First, obtain a model from OIA and check
with OIA to
ascertain the requirements of the particular country.
- Second, prepare a draft (see this Manual at 281 for drafting guidelines)
send it to OIA for clearance.
- Third, secure a judge's signature. Submit the cleared final
district court in two originals under cover of an application for
of letters rogatory and a memorandum in support, models of which
obtained from OIA. One signed original letter rogatory remains
- Fourth, authenticate as directed by OIA. Unless OIA has
you differently, affix an apostille or other authentication to the
duplicate original and send it and two copies to OIA.
- Fifth, make arrangements for translation (see this Manual at 282) of the letter rogatory
the application or supporting memorandum) and send the duplicate
with translation to OIA, which will transmit it to the Department
the American Embassy in the country concerned, or directly to the
appropriate ministry or authority in the country concerned. If OIA
transmits the letter rogatory with translation via the diplomatic
the Embassy will send it to the Foreign Ministry under cover of a
note, the Foreign Ministry will usually refer it to the Ministry of
and the Ministry of Justice will usually forward it to the proper
authority where it will be executed. Normally, the evidence, once
is returned through the same channel by which the request was
In some cases, the request is sent to an attorney in the foreign
jurisdiction who is retained to present the request, obtain the
and deliver it to the United States.
[cited in Criminal Resource Manual 274]