It has been rumored that there are efforts by Wisconsin republican state senators to have arrest warrants issue against the 14 Democratic state senators in order to make them appear. I have a strong feeling that law makers in the Wisconsin state senate know that those arrest warrants can’t do much against the Senators to quickly get them back into Wisconsin. In fact, it will do everything BUT get them back to the capital quickly and I will explain why.
When a state law enforcement agency issues an arrest warrant for an alleged crime it is a legal order to bring that accused before a judge or magistrate to have that warrant served. However, it doesn’t always work like that and it will not necessarily work how the Wisconsin GOP anticipates it. First, if the accused individual is in a different state they cannot be served the warrant because of lack of jurisdiction. For example, a Maryland Police officer cannot serve a Virginia arrest warrant in Maryland because it’s not valid in that state. Instead, once the warrant is confirmed they can take the individual into custody and hold them and bring them before a magistrate or judge to charge them under a different code section: Fugitive from Justice. Essentially, that individual becomes a fugitive from the state the warrant has been issued. In this case, the word “fugitive” isn’t necessarily a terrible thing like they had the intention to run from the law but just means that they are outside the state of the issuing warrant.
This is where the I don’t think the Wisconsin GOP totally thought out. If an individual is charged in a different state they must be extradited from the state they were arrested in to the state the warrant is active in. However, the accused is entitled to a hearing prior to extradition, called an Extradition Hearing where they can waive extradition voluntarily or fight extradition and require the Governor of the state to issue a Governor’s warrant.
Like any legal proceeding, if the accused decides to fight extradition then the process can take a very long time. A perfect example is the Julian Assange case in which the time involved in hearings and scheduling them can take a long time and be delayed. Even though extraditions between countries is completely different from states in America, the general idea that it is not a quick process like Walker and his pals in the Wisconsin GOP state senate may think or desire.
The 14 Wisconsin senate Democrats have proven that they won’t flinch and I don’t think arresting them is going to do anything. In fact, I would believe that if they are arrested each of the 14 would fight extradition back to Wisconsin simply to ensure that this travesty of an effort by Governor Walker does not pass. It can be assumed that sitting law makers who have no criminal record would be held in jail during the process of their extradition hearing being moved through the courts. I would also wonder if arresting them is actually legal since I believe like Virginia, legislators in Wisconsin cannot be arrested while the legislative body is in session. All this would be a very interesting court proceeding to watch and set a very dangerous precedent for future legislators if they attempt to do the same thing.
As someone who has studied this is college and seen in first hand numerous times I can safely say that if the Wisconsin GOP wanted to get them back quickly through having arrest warrant issued I think they will be greatly disappointed.
And I’m not even going to go into the prospect of the Senator majority leader hiring private security contractors to bring the missing senators back by force. Although discussing a legislator aiding in the commission of a felony, even federal felony would be interesting to say the least.