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Anonymous
Extradition etc
Thu Mar 30, 2017 15:21
172.164.43.42

"Knowing what you know today, would you have waived extradition for Hauptmann?"

This kind of question violates a variety of time-travel considerations. Parlor game machinations.

I think we can agree that Hauptmann would never confess to anyone for anything, as his experience back in Germany had been a harsh lesson in Bautzen Prison. Apparently his partner in crime there did admit his role and that did not turn out well for either man. Although his cohort, as far as we know, did 'go straight' after his release. He became a locksmith.

Considering the low bar usually set for state-to-state comity on such Rendition/Extradition, there seems little likelihood that Fawcett ever would have prevailed in keeping his client (BRH) in NY. But even if he had succeeded, there were a spate of charges in NYS (illegal gun purchases/possession, possession of excess gold notes in his garage, illegal alien status, firm identification of his handwriting in the ransom notes, physical descriptions of him at both Cemeteries, etc. As several commentators (in 1934) suggested, Hauptmann would have been very busy (and in jail for years) without any felony murder charges in New Jersey. We can only guess if Germany would have wished him "extradited" from the US on their original charge of escaping from the police station and violating the terms of his original parole.

My guess, and it is only that, is that the insistence of remaining in NY (for whatever it was worth) was BRH's own nutty wish. Fawcett's acquiescence in this ill-advised endeavor tells us a lot of what Fawcett thought of NJ's case.

The focus on "sworn testimony" as impinging on current and prior testimony surely falls flat when we hear/see Hauptmann himself making many such (sworn) statements in Flemington: "I was never in Hopewell, I never built a ladder, I never killed the Lindenborg baby, etc." But BRH was boxed in by circumstances, i.e. he shouldn't have testified BUT he HAD to testify!

And BRH actively worked to make Fawcett's efforts more difficult, as he became more and more specific that he himself (BRH) was NOT working at the Majestic on the day of the crime. Wilentz did not even have to worry a smidge about how long it took to get to NJ after the NYC workday ended. Such a truthful defendant.

For context, which is sorely needed here, we would want to know whether Fawcett had ever tried this gambit ('resisting Extradition') before. The Hauptmanns apparently acquired Fawcett's services through a family contact of Anna's. So much for 'friends' recommendations and 'family contacts.'

In those days, I also do not know how much value the charge of 'ineffective counsel' would go in blaming the defendant's woes on his own (inexperienced?) lawyer.

No doubt there are those today who would make the same accusation against Reilly, i.e. misconduct.

Each case gets tried in its own era - usually. Hauptmann was certainly guilty of 'magical thinking' but that is no reason for us to be equally swept away by his serious lack of the contacts that mattered - being in touch with reality.


  • Fawcett's filesAnonymous, Tue Mar 28 22:25
    So, perhaps we disagree as to the value of the NJ defense having had the Bronx materials ahead of time. However, the State had the Bronx transcript of the testimony and the defense did not (until two ... more
    • Extradition etc — Anonymous, Thu Mar 30 15:21
      • Fawcett, extradition, illegal detainment, etcAnonymous, Sat Apr 1 09:55
        You make many good points. Hauptmann would have faced serious charges had he remained in NY. The Sup CT of the US was really only beginning to look at the conduct of attorneys--the court that... more
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