Court Won't Block Australia Extradition

By Michael Kirkland
U.P.I. [Washington]
April 26, 1996

Justice Clarence Thomas refused Friday to block the extradition of a former Catholic teaching brother to his native Australia, where he faces 36 counts of sexual offenses against children. Gregory Sutton is being held in the Franklin County, Mo., jail, but is expected to be sent to Australia shortly. There was no immediate comment from the Australian government, which had pushed hard for his extradition. A spokeswoman for the Australian Embassy, Amanda Buckley, said earlier that Sutton was a member of the Marist Brothers Order and held ''a number of teaching posts in Australia'' before leaving the country in 1989. She declined to name the schools or the sex of the children being taught, citing Australian regulations on confidentiality. But papers filed in the Supreme Court describe alleged offenses against boys in some of the charges. Some of the alleged victims also are described as under 10. Australian officials are keeping many of the details confidential so as not to prejudice any trial in that country, she added. Buckley said Sutton is ''believed to still be an Australian citizen.'' Sutton had tried to block his extradition by attacking the constitutionality of the U.S. extradition law, which he says gives the executive branch the power to set aside the decisions of the judicial branch. The law violates the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution and should be struck down, Sutton said. A similar argument has been accepted by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., in a separate extradition case, but the appeals court has ordered that the ruling not be applied beyond that case until the Supreme Court has a chance to review it. Sutton originally was charged in Lismore Local Court, New South Wales, Australia in September 1992 and in January 1993. Additional charges were brought in Campbelltown, New South Wales, in August 1995. When the Australian officials learned Sutton was in the United States on resident alien status they asked U.S. officials to begin extradition proceedings against him last July. Sutton was arrested in Missouri in August. A U.S. magistrate certified Sutton's ''extraditability'' last October. Sutton then took his case to U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Though a federal judge granted Sutton a temporary stay of the extradition proceedings, a three-judge panel set aside the stay on March 29, and Sutton's lawyer was told on April 15 that he would be returned to Australia within two weeks. When the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to intervene, Sutton asked the Supreme Court to block his extradition. His request went to Justice Thomas, who oversees the 8th U.S. Circuit. Thomas turned the request down without comment Friday afternoon. (Application No. 879, Sutton vs. Marshall Kimbrough et al)


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