United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J, THARP, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
this Court is Petitioner Tsvetomir Simeonov’s petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2241. Following a hearing, the presiding magistrate judge
certified Simeonov for extradition to Bulgaria for multiple
firearms offenses and committed him to the custody of the
U.S. Marshal. In his petition, Simeonov challenges the
magistrate judge’s order on three separate grounds.
Simeonov’s challenges, however, are without merit and
the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.
events underlying the present petition began nearly twenty
years ago in Bulgaria. On December 20, 2001, Bulgarian
authorities searched Simeonov's home and found four
partially disassembled firearms, as well as bullets and other
supplies necessary to operationalize the firearms as Makarov
pistols. Matter of Extradition of Simeonov, 2019 WL
2994521, at *1 (N.D. Ill. July 9, 2019). Simeonov was
arrested and charged with (1) unlawfully manufacturing and
repairing gas pistols into Makarov pistols, in violation of
Article 337, paragraph 1 of Bulgaria's Criminal Code and
(2) unlawfully acquiring and holding remanufactured Makarov
pistols and ammunition, in violation of Article 339,
paragraph 1 of Bulgaria's Criminal Code. Id.
attending his first five court hearings, Simeonov left
Bulgaria and came to the United States. Id.
Ultimately, he settled in Chicago. The criminal proceedings
continued in Bulgaria in his absence, with Simeonov
represented by defense counsel. On November 19, 2004 the
Bulgarian court convicted Simeonov of both charges in
absentia and sentenced him to a total of seven years and
six months of imprisonment. Id.
to 18 U.S.C. § 3184 and the relevant Treaty between the
countries, the government of Bulgaria submitted a request to
the United States for Simeonov's extradition in 2017.
See Ex. A, EXT-SIMEONOV 00001, ECF No. 11-5; see
also Extradition Treaty Between the Government of the
United States of America and the Government of the Republic
of Bulgaria, and the Agreement on Certain Aspects of Mutual
Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Between the Government
of the United States of America and the Government of the
Republic of Bulgaria (collectively, the
“Treaty”). U.S.-Bulg., Sept. 19, 2007, S. Treaty
Doc. No. 110-112 (2008). After receiving additional
information from Bulgaria in early 2019, the United States
government filed an extradition complaint (No.19 CR 344) in
the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
and obtained a warrant for Simeonov's arrest.
See Ex. A, EXT-SIMEONOV 00001, ECF No. 11-5; see
also Simeonov, 2019 WL 2994521, at *1. Shortly
thereafter Simeonov was arrested and committed to federal
custody pending the extradition decision. Simeonov,
2019 WL 2994521, at *1. The magistrate judge held an
extradition hearing and issued an order granting the
government’s request for a Certification of
Extraditability. See Id . at *6. Seeking review of
the order, Simeonov filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus in this Court.
Habeas Corpus Review in Extradition Proceedings
certifying extradition are not appealable as of right under
28 U.S.C. § 1291, but parties seeking review may file a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus in district court.
See Burgos Noeller v. Wojdylo, 922 F.3d 797, 803
(7th Cir. 2019) (“Courts have long recognized an
alternative path for appellate review, through a petition for
a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.”).
The judicial role is limited throughout the extradition
process, however, and habeas corpus review of extradition
certification is no exception. See Id . at
802–803 (“[T]he judicial role is narrow . . . The
discretion in the process belongs to the executive branch,
not the judiciary.”).
deferential standard of review follows from the court’s
limited role. District and appellate courts review factual
findings by the magistrate judge for clear error and legal
rulings de novo. Id. at 804. The standard ensures
that habeas corpus review does not become a re-litigation of
the extradition hearing. See Eain v. Wilkes, 641
F.2d 504, 508 (7th Cir. 1981) (“The district judge is
not to retry the magistrate’s case.”).
court review is not only deferential, but also circumscribed.
See Burgos Noeller, 922 F.3d at 803. In 1925, the
Supreme Court first articulated the limited scope of review
in Fernandez v. Phillips, stating, “habeas
corpus is available only to inquire whether the magistrate
had jurisdiction, whether the offense charged is within the
treaty and, by a somewhat liberal extension, whether there is
any evidence warranting the finding that there was reasonable
ground to believe the accused guilty.” 268 U.S. 311,
312 (1925). Fernandez’s “reasonable
ground” language is equivalent to the more common
“probable cause” standard used in federal
preliminary hearings. Burgos Noeller, 922 F.3d at
still limited, the scope of habeas corpus review in
extradition cases expanded after Fernandez to match
the general expansion of habeas corpus review. Previously
confined to jurisdictional questions, habeas corpus review
now allows consideration of potential constitutional
violations. See Matter of Burt, 737 F.2d 1477, 1484
(7th Cir. 1984) (“Only subsequent to Fernandez
did the Supreme Court substantially redefine the scope of
habeas corpus review, which previously had been tied to an
examination of jurisdictional defects, to include an
evaluation of whether the petitioner is being held in
violation of any of his or her constitutional
rights.”). As a result, in addition to the inquiries
outlined in Fernandez, courts reviewing habeas
petitions in extradition proceedings have “the
authority to consider not only procedural defects in the
extradition procedures that are of constitutional dimension,
but also the substantive conduct of the United States in
undertaking its decision to extradite if such conduct
violates constitutional rights.” Id.
four categories of argument are available to petitioners
seeking review of extradition proceedings. The three
inquiries articulated in Fernandez remain open:
whether the magistrate had jurisdiction, whether the offense
charged is within the treaty, and whether there is any
evidence warranting the finding of probable cause that the
petitioner is guilty of the offenses charged. In addition,
petitioners may bring challenges alleging constitutional