Extraditions are their own category of case: they are neither criminal nor civil cases, although many concepts from criminal law apply in extradition proceedings. The Office of International Affairs (OIA) works closely with prosecutors in extradition cases to ensure that this specialized area of the law is applied consistently throughout the United States in a manner that fulfills our treaty obligations.
OIA reviews extradition requests for their legal sufficiency prior to their submission to a United States Attorney's Office. In extradition proceedings, the prosecutor appears in court on behalf of the United States and argues that, under law and the facts, the court should order the fugitive extradited to stand trial in the country seeking extradition. Our extradition treaties obligate the United States to appear in court in support of the extradition if, in our independent judgment, the law and the facts support the request. The relevant interests of the United States and its treaty partners will usually be in harmony, but where issues do arise, e.g., questions by a prosecutor concerning the evidence, the prosecutor should immediately consult with OIA.
Although extradition cases are initiated in response to a foreign government's treaty request, the client of the prosecutor in these cases is the United States and not the foreign government. The prosecutor, when appearing in court in support of the request for extradition, is representing the United States in fulfilling its obligations under the extradition treaty.
[updated February 2007]