This is the second time this Court has been asked to balance the rights of this petitioner to the plea bargain she made with the United States Government against the obligations of the Government under an extradition treaty with Switzerland. The facts of the case are set out in full in the opinion by Chief Judge Brown issued in the first appeal. Geisser v. United States, 5 Cir. 1975, 513 F.2d 862. The petitioner, Josette Claire Bauer, nee Geisser, escaped from a Swiss prison where she was serving a sentence for patricide. On August 31, 1967, she and an accomplice, Willy Lambert, were arrested in Miami for attempting to smuggle 28 pounds of heroin into this country as part of an international drug smuggling conspiracy. To gain information from them and their assistance to the prosecutor, representatives of the Justice Department and the local United States Attorney's office engaged in plea negotiations. Bauer and Lambert consented to plead guilty to charges carrying lesser sentences in return for divulging their knowledge of the domestic and international drug conspiracy in which they were involved, and to testify against their superiors in the ring. The United States Government agreed to reindict them for lesser offenses, to secure their parole after three years, and to use its best efforts to prevent the extradition of the two to Switzerland or France. The last part of the bargain became necessary to gain the cooperation of Bauer and Lambert because they were "obsessed by their intense fear of reprisals — a fear all the agents concerned accepted as well-founded". Geisser v. United States, 513 F.2d at 864. Bauer and Lambert kept their bargain. Indeed Josette Bauer was a particularly valuable witness because of her "remarkably retentive memory". Before the plea bargaining was concluded the Swiss Government sought and obtained, on November 2, 1967, in the Southern District of Florida an order certifying the extraditability of Bauer.
In her habeas corpus petition Josette Bauer seeks to compel the Government to keep its part of the bargain; she asks for specific enforcement of the plea agreement and an injunction against the extradition order. In the initial response to the petition Judge Mehrtens, who also presided over the guilty pleas of Bauer and Lambert, held an extensive hearing. He concluded that the United States Government failed to keep both the parole and extradition aspects of the bargain. Judge Mehrtens found that there was a definite agreement that Bauer would not serve more than three years in prison and that she would not be deported to France or Switzerland.
In the first appeal in this case the United States Government did not challenge any of the findings of fact of the district court except the part of its decision that found an absolute agreement to prevent extradition to France or Switzerland. The Department of Justice has contended that its commitment to Bauer and Lambert was no more than to use its "best efforts" to prevent Bauer's extradition.
This Court, through Judge Brown, decided that it needed "an authoritative declaration of the position of the United States Government — not just that of one or more departments or agencies". Geisser v. United States, 513 F.2d at 869. It reasoned:
Id. The Court rejected the Government's claim that Bauer's habeas corpus action was not ripe and that the district court judgment should be vacated because of the failure to join the Confederation of Switzerland as an indispensable party under Rule 19(a), F.R.Civ.P. Instead the Court vacated the district court's order and remanded the case for further proceedings, if they became necessary:
Geisser v. United States, 513 F.2d at 871-72. Thus, the United States Government was given a second chance to keep its bargain, preferably through diplomatic channels without further judicial action, or to explain why it could not prevent Bauer's extradition if that was the result of its efforts.
On remand Judge Mehrtens again held a hearing on the question of Bauer's extradition.
On January 13, 1976, a meeting of representatives from the State Department and the Swiss Embassy was held in connection with the issue of Josette Bauer's extradition. The memorandum of the meeting suggests that much of it was devoted to a discussion of the legal issues in the case. The Swiss also reiterated the country's demand for Bauer's extradition. A note from the Department of State to the Swiss Charge d' Affaires followed the meeting; in it the Department reiterated its suggestion that "it would be in the best interest of both our Governments . . . to terminate the litigation in this case". The Department also voiced its agreement with the Embassy of Switzerland that the extradition of Bauer would be proper under the treaty. The note stated that the "very stringent view" of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit obligated the United States Government to attempt to prevent her extradition. The Ambassador from Switzerland responded on March 15, 1976: "[I]n order to preserve its important interests
After considering this evidence the district court concluded:
This determination was based in part on the court's finding that in the 1975 communications with the Department of State the Justice Department failed to mention the petitioner's "well-founded fears for her life should extradition be effected as a matter of a primary concern to both the United States and Switzerland". The district court granted the petitioner's application for release and vacated the extradition order. The United States and the Consul-General of Switzerland, as an intervenor, appeal that order.
THE BARGAIN AND ITS BREACH
The agreement made by the United States with Bauer had several elements; the extradition issue remains to be resolved. The nature of the bargain with regard to extradition has been characterized in two ways. After the first hearing on Bauer's habeas corpus petition, Judge Mehrtens found that the Justice Department made a definite agreement with Bauer that she would not be deported to Switzerland or France upon her release from prison. On appeal the Government challenged that finding of fact, arguing that the obligation involved only the Government's promise to use its "best efforts" to prevent Bauer's extradition.
In its first opinion this Court remanded the case to the district court for further hearings on the question of "just what has been done with the promise `to use our best efforts'". Geisser v. United States, 513 F.2d at 872. Thus the Court concluded that the agreement made by the Government could most accurately be characterized as a promise to use "best efforts" to prevent Bauer's extradition. In conformance with this conclusion Judge Mehrtens evaluated the Government's actions from a "best efforts" perspective and found them inadequate. We agree.
In this Court's first opinion Chief Judge Brown suggested how the Government could comply with its "best efforts" promise to Bauer:
Geisser v. United States, 513 F.2d at 869. The documentary evidence presented to the district court fails to reveal a "best efforts" performance by the United States Government through the Departments of State and Justice. The letter written by Deputy Attorney General Tyler only obliquely refers to the reason for the nonextradition agreement.
The Department of Justice conceded at oral argument that Deputy Attorney General Tyler's letter to Secretary of State Kissinger did not contain a representation
In Santobello v. New York, 1971, 404 U.S. 257, 92 S.Ct. 495, 30 L.Ed.2d 427, the Supreme Court held that the petitioner's constitutional rights had been violated when the prosecutor failed to keep its bargain to make no sentence recommendation. The Court reached this result even though the judge stated at sentencing that he was "not at all influenced" by the district attorney's recommendation.
404 U.S. at 262-63, 92 S.Ct. at 499. The same reasoning applies here. The Government promised to use its "best efforts" to prevent Bauer's extradition, and this Court determined that the commitment at a minimum requires a "strong presentation" of what was promised and of the likely dangers to the bargainee. The Government failed to make such a presentation. That the Swiss may to some extent be aware of her fears does not relieve the Government of the obligation to make the strongest case possible for the nonextradition of Bauer to Switzerland and France. As the Supreme Court stated in Santobello: "[W]hen a plea rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the inducement or consideration, such promise must be fulfilled." 404 U.S. at 262, 92 S.Ct. at 499.
The First Circuit has suggested the proper focus in this situation:
Correale v. United States, 1 Cir. 1973, 479 F.2d 944, 949. Similarly, the reaction of the Swiss is irrelevant to the Government's obligation to keep its agreement. Our focus here must be on the nature of the promise made to Bauer. A plea bargain is contractual in nature; and when the prosecution breaches the agreement, the entire legal basis for the plea fails. See United States v. Bridgemen, 1975, 173 U.S.App.D.C. 150, 523 F.2d 1099, 1109-10, cert. denied, 425 U.S. 961, 96 S.Ct. 1743, 48 L.Ed.2d 206; United States v. Gorham, 1975, 173 U.S.App.D.C. 139, 523 F.2d 1088, 1097. Because a guilty plea involves a waiver of constitutional rights, McCarthy v. United States, 1969, 394 U.S. 459, 89 S.Ct. 1166, 22 L.Ed.2d 418, it must be made voluntarily. The Supreme Court established the standard for voluntariness in Brady v. United States, 1970, 397 U.S. 742, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 25 L.Ed.2d 747, by quoting a passage from a dissenting opinion by Judge Elbert Tuttle:
397 U.S. at 755, 90 S.Ct. at 1472. Here a promise remains unfulfilled, and the plea is therefore involuntary unless the breach is remedied. "It is axiomatic [under Santobello] that no guilty plea that has been induced by an unkept plea bargain can be permitted to stand." Dugan v. United States, 5 Cir. 1973, 521 F.2d 231; United States v. Pihakis, 5 Cir. 1977, 545 F.2d 973; Scrivens v. Henderson, 5 Cir. 1976, 525 F.2d 1263, cert. denied, 429 U.S. 919, 97 S.Ct. 311, 50 L.Ed.2d 285.
As the foregoing discussion suggests, the district court's finding that the Government failed to use its "best efforts" to forestall the petitioner's extradition is not clearly erroneous. Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). We reject the Department of Justice's contention that the clearly erroneous standard is inapplicable to review a record confined to documentary evidence. The rule in this Circuit is clear and has been reiterated many times:
Sicula Oceanica, S. A. v. Wilmar Marine Eng. & Sales Corp., 5 Cir. 1969, 413 F.2d 1332, 1333-34. See Volkswagen of America, Inc. v. Jahre, 5 Cir. 1973, 472 F.2d 557, 559; Burston v. Caldwell, 5 Cir. 1975, 506 F.2d 24, 26-27, cert. denied, 421 U.S. 990, 95 S.Ct. 1995, 44 L.Ed.2d 480. Under the clearly erroneous test the district court's finding of a breach of the plea bargain by the Government must stand.
When a plea bargain is breached, the courts must fashion a remedy that insures the petitioner "what is reasonably due en the circumstances". Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. at 262, 92 S.Ct. at 499. See also United States v. I. H. Hammerman, II, 4 Cir. 1975, 528 F.2d 326, 332. And what is reasonably due "will vary". Correale v. United States, 1 Cir. 1973, 479 F.2d 944, 950. Generally, the bargain is "either specifically enforceable between the parties to the agreement or the plea is void" (emphasis in original). Gallejos v. United States, 5 Cir. 1972, 466 F.2d 740, 741. In Santobello the Supreme Court discussed possible remedies:
404 U.S. at 263, 92 S.Ct. at 499. The alternative involving withdrawal of the guilty plea and resentencing before a different judge was available in Santobello because the petitioner had been released on bail pending appeal and had not yet begun to serve his sentence. "The court therefore had no reason to consider other possible means of providing specific enforcement." Correale v. United States, 1 Cir. 1973, 479 F.2d 944, 950.
Chief Judge Brown discussed the remedies available in this case in his opinion in the first appeal:
Geisser v. United States, 513 F.2d at 871. The district court's remedy gives decisive weight to Bauer's fears for her life on extradition to Switzerland or France; it vacated the outstanding extradition order against Bauer. We decline to go that far at this juncture. We conclude that a narrowly drawn remedy specifically enforcing the Government's "best efforts" agreement is required. The Government must again try to prevent Bauer's extradition to Switzerland or France. We are not convinced that the vast powers of persuasion at the command of the Departments of Justice and State have been adequately applied to Bauer's cause. The bargain she made with the United States Government in entering her guilty plea and waiving her constitutional rights requires no less.
While retaining jurisdiction, we remand the case to the district court if, in the discretion of that court, further proceedings are necessary or appropriate. The Government has a reasonable time in which to use its "best efforts" to prevent the extradition of Bauer to Switzerland or France. Enforcement of the extradition order outstanding against Bauer must of course be held in abeyance until this case has been resolved.
DISQUALIFICATION OF DISTRICT JUDGE
The intervenor-appellant, the Consul General of Switzerland, contends that Judge Mehrtens, as a material witness to disputed facts concerning the plea bargain in this case, had an obligation to disqualify himself under 28 U.S.C. § 455 (1970).
The Fourth Circuit in United States v. Smith, 4 Cir. 1964, 337 F.2d 49, cert. denied, 1965, 381 U.S. 916, 85 S.Ct. 1542, 14 L.Ed.2d 436, rendered a thoughtful opinion analyzing the relationship between section 455 and 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (1970), authorizing habeas corpus petitions by federal prisoners. The court concluded:
337 F.2d at 53. In line with the position taken by most of the other circuits, McKinney v. United States, 9 Cir. 1973, 487 F.2d 948, 949-50; Hoffa v. United States, 6 Cir. 1973, 471 F.2d 391, 394, cert. denied, 414 U.S. 880, 94 S.Ct. 159, 38 L.Ed.2d 125; Mirra v. United States, 2 Cir. 1967, 379 F.2d 782, 788, cert. denied, 389 U.S. 1022, 88 S.Ct. 593, 19 L.Ed.2d 677, we adopt the Smith court's reasoning and reject the intervenor's contention that Judge Mehrtens has an obligation to disqualify himself as a material witness.
VACATED AND REMANDED.
COLEMAN, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I agree that Judge Mehrtens was not disqualified.
I agree with what is said in the remainder of the majority opinion, but I cannot concur in it, because it does not reach what I believe to be the fundamental issues in the case.
Article VI of the Constitution commands that "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land".
For seventy seven years the United States has had an extradition treaty with the Swiss Confederation, ratified by the Senate. Nobody contends that this treaty in any manner violates the Constitution itself.
I therefore take the position that the obligations of the Treaty cannot be bargained away by any federal prosecutor, however sincere the effort. Being a part of the supreme law, binding on every officer of the United States, the treaty terms could not be modified or diminished by a plea bargain in a court which had no authority to amend or abrogate the Treaty. Consequently, that part of the plea bargain which attempted to commit the United States to any course of action inconsistent with the Treaty violated the Constitution. I respectfully suggest that it is void and entitled to no notice by the courts.
Moreover, before this putative plea bargain was made, the Swiss government had filed in extradition complaint against Mrs. Geisser in federal district court. A hearing was held, in which she was present, along with counsel. The court announced its order that she would be extradited to Switzerland
In Santobello the plea bargaining was concerned with the sentence which was to follow a guilty plea. The prosecutor had agreed that he would make no recommendation on that subject. A subsequent prosecutor, unaware of the agreement, breached it. The Supreme Court held that the agreement had to be kept. The point is that the Court was considering only the sentencing process. It was not concerned with an agreement to take action on subjects outside the normal function or jurisdiction of the court in which the pledge was made.
In my opinion, that part of plea bargains freighted with promises outside the sentencing process and beyond the jurisdiction of the Court should neither be allowed nor enforced. Most assuredly this should be true as to subjects over which the Department of Justice has no jurisdiction, more especially where the defendant has not been misled by representations of the prosecutor.
As I understand this record, the purported agreement was made not to obtain a guilty plea but to get the fugitive to testify against some of her confederates. The defendant was clutching at straws but, so far, the straws have been more effective than a solemn treaty of the United States, a result which I cannot countenance.
Lastly, I am of the view that if the promise is enforceable, the Department has shown reasonable compliance with its agreement. Its efforts are set forth in the majority opinion. I think they were enough. It was never thought that the Department could do any more than "ask", and ask it did. The Swiss government declined to relent, whereupon the duty of the Secretary of State, under the Treaty, is beyond dispute. This defendant's record demonstrates that she is more than able to take care of herself. Not only did she escape from a Swiss prison but she also escaped from federal custody and it was nearly three years after the federal escape before she was caught. So far as I know there has been no hearing nor any findings of fact as to any danger she might be subject to in a Swiss prison, if indeed one can be found which would hold her. On her unsupported assertions of fear, the rights we have guaranteed the Swiss are further delayed, if not altogether thwarted.
Our concern for Constitutional guaranties should never falter, but, with deference, I feel very strongly that our concern for Mrs. Geisser is seriously misplaced. I would enter an order directing immediate compliance with the Treaty.
I respectfully dissent.