Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Statement of the Case.

decrees or other demands, or any register in chancery, clerk of any court of record, sheriff, constable, justice of the peace, or any other officer, shall collect or receive in such capacity any money belonging to another, and shall neglect or refuse to pay the same to the person entitled thereto within a reasonable time after demand thereof, the person so neglecting or refusing, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not more than one year, or by fine not exceeding four times the amount of money so received, or both, at the discretion of the court." 2 Howell's Annotated Stats. Michigan, p. 2220.

The petition further set forth

"That due process of law in the State of Michigan is provided for and prescribed by the constitution and statutes of said State in part by the following sections, to wit: 'In every criminal prosecution, the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, which may consist of less than twelve men in all courts not of record; to be informed of the nature of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and have the assistance of counsel for his defence.' Constitution of Michigan, Article VI, Section 28.

66

"No person shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.' Constitution of Michigan, Article VI, Section 32.

"No person indicted for an offence, shall be convicted thereof, unless by confession of his guilt in open court, or by admitting the truth of the charge against him, by his plea or demurrer, or by the verdict of a jury, accepted and recorded by the court.' 2 Howell's Annotated Stats. Michigan, p. 2205, Sec. 9069.

"No person who is charged with any offence against the law, shall be punished for such offence, unless he shall have been duly and legally convicted thereof, in a court having competent jurisdiction of the cause and of the person.' 2 Howell's Annotated Stats. Michigan, p. 2205, Sec. 9071.

Opinion of the Court.

"When any person shall be arraigned upon an indictment, it shall not be necessary, in any case, to ask him how he will be tried; but if, on being so arraigned, he shall refuse to plead or answer, or shall not confess the indictment to be true, the court shall order a plea of not guilty to be entered, and thereupon the proceedings shall be the same as if he had pleaded not guilty to the indictment.' 2 Howell's Annotated Stats. Michigan, p. 2293, Sec. 9518."

The application for the writ was heard by Judge Brown, holding the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Michigan, and denied, (his opinion being reported 42 Fed. Rep. 217,) whereupon the cause was brought to this court by appeal.

Mr. John C. Patterson for petitioner, appellant.

Mr. B. W. Huston, Attorney General of the State of Michigan, opposing, submitted on his brief.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

The Supreme Court of Michigan held that the information. charged the respondent with the crime of embezzlement; that the defendant was called upon to plead to this charge when arraigned; that he pleaded guilty of embezzlement, and undoubtedly understood when he made his plea that he was pleading guilty to the felony charged; that this conclusion was fortified by the private examination required by statute to be made by the judge before sentencing upon a plea of guilty, which was shown to have been had in this case; that the fact that the respondent collected the money as an attorney was immaterial; that if the act contained all the elements of embezzlement, he was guilty of the crime and was properly convicted; that an attorney when he collects money for his client acts as the agent of his client as well as his attorney, and if, after making the collection, he appropriates the money to his own use with the intention of depriving the owner of the same, he is guilty of the crime of embezzlement; that the

Opinion of the Court.

conviction was warranted by the plea; and that the judgment should therefore be affirmed. As remarked by Judge Brown, it is no defence to an indictment under one statute that a defendant might also be punished under another. And as the highest judicial tribunal of the State of Michigan ruled that the word "agent" in section 9151 of the statutes of that State applied to attorneys-at-law, and as the information charged the defendant with embezzlement under that section, and he pleaded guilty to embezzlement as an attorney-at-law, the affirmance of the conviction necessarily followed. In the view of the statute taken by the court, the plea admitted the truth of the charge.

It is not our province to inquire whether the conclusion. reached and announced by the Supreme Court was or was not correct, for we are not passing upon its judgment as a court of error, nor can we consider the contention that the decision was not in harmony with the state constitution and laws.

The single question is whether appellant is held in custody in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in that the State thereby deprives him of liberty without due process of law; for there is no pretence of an abridgment of his privileges and immunities as a citizen of the United States, nor of a denial of the equal protection of the laws. But the State cannot be deemed guilty of a violation. of its obligations under the Constitution of the United States because of a decision, even if erroneous, of its highest court, while acting within its jurisdiction. And, conceding that an unconstitutional conviction and punishment under a valid law would be as violative of a person's constitutional rights as a conviction and punishment under an unconstitutional law, we fail to perceive that this conviction and judgment are repugnant to the constitutional provision. Appellant has been subjected, as all persons within the State of Michigan are, to the law in its regular course of administration through courts of justice, and it is impossible to hold that a judgment so arrived at is such an unrestrained and arbitrary exercise of power as to be utterly void.

We repeat, as has been so often said before, that the Four

Syllabus.

teenth Amendment undoubtedly forbids any arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty or property, and in the administration of criminal justice requires that no different or higher punishment shall be imposed on one than is imposed on all for like offences, but it was not designed to interfere with the power of the State to protect the lives, liberty and property of its citizens; nor with the exercise of that power in the adjudications of the courts of a State in administering the process provided by the law of the State. The Supreme Court of Michigan did not exceed its jurisdiction or deliver a judgment abridging appellant's privileges or immunities or depriving him of the law of the land of his domicil. Arrowsmith v. Harmoning, 118 U. S. 194; Baldwin v. Kansas, 129 U. S. 52; In re Kemmler, 136 U. S. 436.

Judgment affirmed.

RED RIVER CATTLE COMPANY v. NEEDHAM.

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS.

No. 1362. Submitted December 15, 1890. — Decided January 5, 1891.

When the demand in controversy is not for money, but the nature of the action requires the value of the thing demanded to be stated in the pleadings, affidavits will not be received here to vary the value as appearing in the face of the record.

The filing of affidavits as to value will not ordinarily be permitted where evidence of value has been adduced below on both sides, and the proofs have been transmitted, either with or without the announcement of a definite conclusion deduced therefrom.

Where a writ of error is brought, or an appeal taken, without question as to the value, and the latter is nowhere disclosed by the record, affidavits may be received to establish the jurisdictional amount, and counter affldavits may be allowed if the existence of such value is denied in good faith.

If there be a real controversy as to the value of the demand in controversy, it should be settled below in the first instance, and on due notice; not here upon ex parte opinions.

The value of the property in dispute in this case was alleged in the petition, but was not an issuable fact. The Circuit Court allowed the writ of error on the prima facie showing made by the defendant. The plaintiffs

Opinion of the Court.

subsequently presented evidence to the contrary, but that court declined to decide the controversy and referred it to this court. Held, (1) That, under such circumstances it was not proper to allow affidavits as to value to be filled here;

(2) That the jurisdictional value was not made out by a preponderance of evidence.

MOTION TO DISMISS.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. W. Hallett Phillips for the motion.

Mr. Sawnie Robertson opposing.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the

court.

This was an action of trespass to try title, brought by Needham and others against the Red River Cattle Company in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Texas.

The petition alleged the land to be of the reasonable value of $4400. Defendant pleaded not guilty and the statute of limitations. A verdict was rendered in favor of plaintiffs for an undivided one-half interest in the land sued for, and judgment was entered thereon January 24, 1890. A motion for new trial was overruled on the 10th of February, and on that day the defendant filed three affidavits, tending to show that the half interest had a value in excess of $5000, whereupon a writ of error was allowed.

On the 22d of February, plaintiffs filed a motion to set aside the allowance of the writ of error, (stating want of notice of the application for it,) accompanied by four affidavits and a letter from the county where the land was situated, tending to establish that the value of one-half was far less than $5000, upon which the Circuit Court entered the following order: "On this day came on to be heard the motion of the plaintiffs to set aside the writ of error granted herein; and the court having heard and considered said motion, and being of the opinion that the question of the value of the land in controversy is a question that the trial judge is not called upon to

« AnteriorContinuar »