IPG Legal Thwarts the Korean Government’s Attempt to Extradite an American Former Service Member to South Korea

IPG Legal won a release for an American national in an extradition case pending in a U.S. Federal Court by obtaining the Re-Opening of a Finalized Judgment in Korea and obtaining the release of the American national on bail. The American Defendant was held in a jail in America for over seven months until retention of IPG Legal and Hayes & Simon, P.C. in New York City.

Sean Hayes argued for the Defendant in a U.S. Federal Court in the United States, while a team in Korea, including a retired judge, argued for the Defendant in court in South Korea. IPG Legal found no cases where a foreign national obtained a Re-Opening of a Finalized Judgment in Korea’s history. Furthermore, this is one of the few extradition cases in the United States where a defendant was released on bail pending extradition.

Facts Leading to the U.S.-Korea Extradition Proceedings

The American Defendant was a first a soldier and, then, a contractor working for the U.S. Military in Korea (“Defendant”). The Defendant met and dated a Korean woman that worked in one of the “entertainment bars” near a U.S. military base in Korea. The Defendant lived with this woman in his government-provided residence. Shortly after the woman heard that the Defendant is returning to the United States, the woman and her friend accused the Defendant of a crime akin to an aggravated battery. The alleged incident occurred after the woman and her friend returned to the abode of the Defendant drunk and accused the Defendant of infidelity. The Defendant contends that the allegation is a lie and that the Defendant even resided with the accuser after the alleged incident.

Over a decade after the alleged incident, a Korean court convicted the Defendant in absentia (without the presence of the Defendant in court) and sentenced the Defendant to two years in a Korean prison. The Defendant never posed a defense in the case, near knew of the charges against him and never had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel prior to the trial, conviction and sentence. No evidence exists to indicate that the Defendant fled Korea or knew of any indictment. The Defendant even came back to Korea for a trip after his job ended in Korea.

The Korean Court tried and sentenced the American Defendant in absentia without serving the Defendant, notifying the Defendant of a pending trial or attempting to contact the Defendant in the United States. The Korean Court had Defendant’s U.S. Social Security Number, Passport Number, Date of Birth, Full Name and U.S. Military identification card. The Korean Court failed to seek aid from the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. military, the Korean Embassy in the U.S., the FBI, or Interpol.

However, immediately, after the judgment and sentence, the Korean government found diligence and promptly located the Defendant through the U.S. Interpol Office. 

Upon locating the Defendant, a U.S. Federal Court ordered the holding of the Defendant, in prison, pending extradition.

Request for Re-Opening of the Court Case in Korea

IPG Legal scores major win in case against Korean Government.

IPG Legal succeeded, at the court of first instance in Korea, in obtaining the re-opening of the case. Thus, the Defendant is eligible for a retrial.

In the case, IPG Legal’s argument, in short, was twofold:

  1. The Defendant complied with the period of Request for Retrial as he was never properly served and unaware of the case against him until he was put in prison (a request for retrial must be made within 14 days of service of the judgment); and
  2. The Defendant’s Due Process Rights and the Right to Seek Counsel, which are rights guaranteed by both Korean Constitutional Law and the Facilities and Areas and the Status of United States Armed Forces in Korea treaty (“SOFA”) were violated. 

Acknowledging the above arguments, the Korean Court granted the re-opening of the case on the grounds that the Defendant failed to attend the trial procedure due to reasons “unattributable to the defendant.”

Extradition Case in the United States

Sean Hayes argued the case for the Defendant in a U.S. Federal Court. Bail, in extradition cases, in all but the most exceptional of exceptional of cases are denied by U.S. Federal Court judges. Sean Hayes, via a vigorous debate on law with the U.S. government attorney, obtained the release of the Defendant on bail.

You can schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer if you have questions and other legal concerns in South Korea at: Please Schedule a Call with an Attorney.

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