Last month, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears appeals in federal cases here in Atlanta, Georgia, heard oral arguments in a habeas corpus case filed by Sholam Weiss. Weiss argues that the United States government has reneged on promises it made to the Austrian authorities to obtain extradition.
Ten years ago, Weiss was sentenced to 845 years in absentia after a jury found him guilty of RICO violations, money laundering, and other charges stemming from the white collar fraud that resulted in the downfall of the National Heritage Life Insurance Company. Just before jury deliberations began, Weiss fled the country. He was eventually arrested in Austria pursuant to an international arrest warrant. Austria initially refused to extradite Weiss, but later agreed after extensive negotiations and exchanges of information.
Weiss’s appellate lawyers argue that Austria would not have extradited Weiss had the U.S. not promised that Weiss would be given the opportunity to appeal his convictions and be resentenced. In his habeas corpus petition to the Middle District of Florida, Weiss argued that the extradition is invalid, so the United States has no personal jurisdiction over him and he should be released in Austria. The Eleventh Circuit is more likely to consider specific performance, requiring the U.S. to follow through on its promises to the Austrian authorities.
We will update when the Eleventh Circuit’s decision is issued.
The unreported decision by the Middle District of Florida is available at 2008 WL 5235162.