I'll admit, I've never seen an episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter, which follows the adventures of Hawaii-based bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman. I'm not a big fan of reality shows anyway, and I'm certainly not a fan of bounty hunters in general. So I was a little surprised to see the big deal made of Dog's arrest by US Marshals on an extradition request from Mexico. Apparently, Dog followed a bail-jumping serial rapist to Mexico and caught him. The rapist was returned to the United States and is serving a lengthy (100+ years) prison term.
One problem - bounty hunting, as it's practiced in the United States is illegal in Mexico. Thus, in 2003, Dog and some of his crew were charged in Mexico with kidnapping and released no bail. At the time, Dog didn't not seem very indignant about the charges:
Chapman, 50, held a news conference soon after the judge's decision, saying that although he was proud of what he did, he regretted doing it 'in the wrong way.'
'This is an international rapist taken down,' Chapman said.
Chapman said he regretted running afoul of Mexican law but expressed gratitude to Mexican officials for treating him with respect. He also said he appreciated support expressed by people on both sides of the border.
Apparently, Dog and his crew left Mexico without permission. Ironically, a fugitive warrant was issued for him and the Mexican authorities handed in an extradition request to the United States. Why it took three years for all this to shake out, I don't know.
Given all this, I'm someone shocked by the talk over at TalkLeft about Dog's arrest (Mike at Crime & Federalism expresses similar thoughts). I understand that Jeralyn is a friend of Dog's, but her anger over his arrest seems odd for a criminal defense attorney, particulaly one who is rightly quick to step up when the Fourth Amendment is violated in high profile cases. There appears to be little doubt that Dog violated Mexican law in apprehending the escaped rapist. It seems equally clear that Dog engaged in a utilitarian calculus and concluded that the wrong of illegally detaining the guy was outweighed by the need to ship the rapist back to the US to serve his sentence (he had been convicted in absentia, apparently).
If police in this country made a similar calculation - the ends of justice outweighed the cops need to illegally break down that door without a warrant - Jeralyn and other criminal defense attorneys (myself included) would be outraged. The fact that (a) this took place in Mexico and (b) Dog is apparently a decent guy,* isn't really relevant is it (except insofar as the fact that what he did was illegal under Mexican law)? Maybe the Mexican prosecutor's motives in pursuing Dog's case aren't pure. Should that matter? Should a cop who is pure of heart be forgiven for ignoring the Constitution? Why should we expect anything less south of the border? It's hypocritical to, on the one hand, bash the Mexican justice system as corrupt and inefficient, while, on the other, arguing that the state should look the other way in the name of "justice" when a law is broken.
* I have no reason to think otherwise, although the angelic praise being heaped upon Dog is enough to make me suspicious in my own right. When someone praises him for not using a gun, without addressing the possibility that his prior felony conviction legally prohibits him from doing so, you wonder about their objectivity.