PR 101713

To render a valid judgment against a person, a court must also have jurisdiction over that person. The fact that a defendant has been brought to court against his or her wishes and by questionable methods does not invalidate the jurisdiction of the court. In Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519 (1952), the Court ruled that an invalid arrest is not a defense against being convicted of the offense charged. The accused was forcibly seized, handcuffed, blackjacked, and then taken back to Michigan by law enforcement officers.


The Court ruled that the power of a court to try a person for a crime is not impaired by the fact that the person has been brought within the court’s jurisdiction through forcible abduction. The Court said, “It matters not how a defendant is brought before the court; what matters is that the defendant is before the court and can therefore be tried.” Another case involved former Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega. In December 1989, the U.S. government sent troops to Panama, who arrested Noriega and then flew him to Florida to face narcotics trafficking charges.


Noriega protested, claiming that U.S. courts had no jurisdiction over him because the Panama invasion, which led to his arrest, violated international law. The U.S. courts ruled, however, that the method of arrest did not deprive the courts of jurisdiction. Noriega was tried in the United States, convicted, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.