On February 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the oral argument in “Mohamad v. Rajoub”---a case about whether the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 allows lawsuits by torture victims against organizations, as well as against individuals.
And Saturday, February 4 on C-CSPAN Radio’s Historic Supreme Court Oral argument, a case cited in “Mohamad v. Rajoub”. From 2004 the consolidated case “Jose Sosa and the United States, Petitioners v. Humberto Alvarez-Machain and others, Respondents.”
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency special agent was kidnapped and murdered by a Mexican drug cartel in 1985. The DEA concluded that Humberto Alvarez-Machain had participated in the murder and a warrant for his arrest was issued by a Federal District Court. However, the DEA was unable to convince Mexico to extradite Alvarez-Machain, so they hired several Mexican nationals---including Jose Sosa-- to capture him and bring him back to the United States. His subsequent trial went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that while the government could try a person who had been forcibly abducted----the abduction itself might violate international law and provide grounds for a civil suit. When the case went back to the District Court, Humberto Alvarez-Machain was found not guilty for lack of evidence.
He then filed a group of civil suits in Federal court against the United States and the Mexican nationals who had captured him, citing the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows the Federal government to be sued on tort claims, and citing the Alien Tort Statute, which permits suits against foreign citizens in American courts. After several appeals, the case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The audio and information in this program are courtesy of the Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.