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Bench Book - 5.3.8 Personal Jurisdiction

The Compact necessarily involves offenders moving across state lines. Therefore, considerations of different courts’ personal jurisdiction over the parties to a suit might come into play. Unfortunately, different courts have reached different results when considering the role of the Compact in evaluating their jurisdiction over the defendants to a suit.

In Hansen v. Scott, 645 N.W.2d 223 (N.D. 2002), the Supreme Court of North Dakota concluded that its courts had personal jurisdiction over Texas officials sued for their failure to fully disclose the criminal history of a Texas parolee who transferred to North Dakota under the Compact and wound up killing two people there. The court held that by affirmatively asking North Dakota to supervise the parolee under the Compact, the Texas officials purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in North Dakota, such that they could reasonably anticipate being hauled into court there—as they were when they were sued by the victims’ children.

By contrast, in Hankins v. Burton, No. 4:11-cv-4048-SLD-JAG, 2012 WL 3201947, at *1 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 3 2012), a federal court in the receiving state (Illinois) determined that it did not have personal jurisdiction over probation officials from other states (Arkansas and Missouri) who were being sued under Section 1983 for allegedly keeping the probationer under supervision beyond her lawful supervision term. The mere existence a compact between the states to transfer probationers did not, the court said, constitute purposeful availment by the defendants of the privilege of conducting activities in Illinois, and it would thus violate due process to exercise personal jurisdiction over them. Id. at *6.