Finally, the clause has been interpreted in the light of the incontrovertible maxim that the courts of no country execute the penal laws of another.95 In the leading case of Huntington v. Attrill,96 however, the Court so narrowly defined penal in this connection as to make it substantially synonymous with criminal and on this basis held a judgment which had been recovered under a state statute making the officers of a corporation who signed and recorded a false certificate of the amount of its capital stock liable for all of its debts to be entitled under article IV, § 1, to recognition and enforcement in the courts of sister States. Nor, in general, is a judgment for taxes to be denied full faith and credit in state and federal courts merely because it is for taxes. In Nelson v. George,97 in which a prisoner was tried in California and North Carolina and convicted and sentenced in both states for various felonies, the Court determined that the Full Faith and Credit Clause did not require California to enforce a penal judgment handed down by North Carolina; California was free to consider what effect if any it would give to the North Carolina detainer.98 Until the obligation to extradite matured, the Full Faith and Credit Clause did not require California to enforce the North Carolina penal judgment in any way.
95 The Antelope, 23 U.S. (10 Wheat.) 66, 123 (1825). See also Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265 (1888).
96 146 U.S. 657 (1892). See also Dennick v. Railroad Co., 103 U.S. 11 (1881); Moore v. Mitchell, 281 U.S. 18 (1930); Milwaukee County v. White Co., 296 U.S. 268 (1935).
97 399 U.S. 224 (1970).
98 Id. at 229.
Last modified: June 9, 2014