By William Tauro
Michael Lacey the man accused of defacing a grave then urinating on American flags at the Somerville Veterans Memorial Cemetery has turned himself in to the Somerville Courthouse this past week. Lacey, 31, as you recall last month is being was seen and caught in the act by a Good Samaritan who witnessed the entire event and even confronted the suspect at the scene.
The good samaritan then followed the alleged vandals and was able to get an opportunity to grab a few photographs of the suspect and his girlfriend.
After a search for the suspect it was reported that Lacey was being accused of defacing a grave and urinating on four American flags at the Somerville Veterans Cemetery and was arrested by Rhode Island Police as he was allegedly attempting to return to Oregon to elude any arrest or conviction by local authorities.
“If these allegations are true, they are offensive not only to our community and our own veterans, but to our entire nation and those who served and continue to serve,” Somerville Mayor Curtatone said in a statement. “Following the full investigation by the Somerville Police Department, I am confident that anyone who may be found guilty will be held fully responsible for these despicable actions.”
Soon after the Mayor Joseph Curtatone tweeted “ We filed charges, warrant for his arrest has been issued, waiting for RI to extradite him.”
Well my question is if Mayor Joe Curtatone as he stated in his statement that they’re waiting to extradite this guy and return him back to Massachusetts, why didn’t they do so?
All I know for sure is that the Somerville Court told us that there was an arrest warrant out for him. He, being Michael Lacey, called the Somerville Courthouse on his own and asked how he could turn himself in. The court then referred him to the probation department. He was told to come in and report to probation. When he did, the Somerville Police were notified and took him into custody. He was then brought to the Somerville Police Department and obviously made bail because he showed up on his own the next day for the arraignment.
My question here is why didn’t Somerville Police go down to Rhode Island and bring this guy back in their custody and not on his own? That part of the puzzle is missing and definitely mind boggling if anybody knows the answer that please let us know why.
Somerville Communications Director Denise Taylor told us that “Somerville Police issued three warrants for Lacey’s arrest and were working closely with the District Attorney and Attorney General in Rhode Island told us that the extradition was not complete and It was out of our control.”
A call to Somerville Police Chief David Fallon went unanswered.
We’re just hoping that it’s not just a political tactic to avoid arresting him for alleged political pressure where he had to turn himself in on his own.
The Definition of Extradition
Extradition” refers to one state or nation giving over an individual to another state or nation for purposes of criminal trial or punishment. Within the U.S., federal law, as complemented by state laws, governs the extradition of fugitives from one state to another. Treaties between nations and groups of nations govern international extraditions. In addition to having procedural requirements, most nations refuse to extradite individuals for acts which would not be considered a crime locally, and will not extradite individuals accused or convicted of certain political crimes. Some nations also refuse to extradite individuals who may be subject to torture or the death penalty in the requesting country.
Extradition from One State to Another
Within the U.S., federal law governs extradition from one state to another. The Extradition Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article IV Section 2) requires that:
A person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
First, the state which claims jurisdiction over the underlying crime makes a request for the alleged fugitive’s extradition. A court in the state which receives the extradition request determines whether the request paperwork is in order, and if so, issues a warrant for the arrest of the person. Through subsequent hearings, the state court determines whether to extradite the person.
Though federal law trumps, states may have their own laws affecting extradition, as long as those laws do not conflict with federal law. Many states have enacted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, which spells out general rules about how local courts handle extradition requests.
The Supreme Court has identified four issues which a state court may analyze when determining whether or not to extradite:
1. whether the extradition request documents are in order;
2. whether the person has been charged with a crime in the requesting state;
3. whether the person named in the extradition request is the person charged with the crime; and
4. whether the petitioner is, in fact, a fugitive from the requesting state.
States, in deciding whether to extradite, generally may not delve into the underlying charge behind an extradition request. Most states do, however, have laws requiring them to inform the individual of: (1) the extradition request, (2) the underlying criminal charge, and (3) the individual’s right to seek legal counsel.
If the person wishes to contest their arrest and potential extradition, many states specify that he or she may do so by pursuing a writ of habeas corpus.