134 U.S. 136 (1890), Wight v. Nicholson

Citation:134 U.S. 136, 10 S.Ct. 487, 33 L.Ed. 865
Party Name:WIGHT v. NICHOLSON, Superintendent of Detroit House of Correction.
Case Date:March 03, 1890
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 136

134 U.S. 136 (1890)

10 S.Ct. 487, 33 L.Ed. 865

WIGHT

v.

NICHOLSON, Superintendent of Detroit House of Correction.

United States Supreme Court.

March 3, 1890

Appeal from the circuit court of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan.

COUNSEL

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[10 S.Ct. 487] H. M. Duffield, for appellant.

Sol. Gen. Chapman, for appellee.

OPINION

MILLER, J.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court for the eastern district of Michigan discharging a writ of habeas corpus on a hearing before that court. By this writ, the appellant here, Charles H. Wight, sought to be relieved from imprisonment in the Detroit house of correction, under sentence of the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan. The petitioner was indicted in that court upon the charge that on the 28th day of June, 1888, while be was employed in one of the departments of the postal service of the United States, to-wit, as superintendent of letter carriers 'treasury notes.' There were six other and unlawfully secreted and embezzled certain letters which came into his possession in the regular course of his official duty, and

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which were intended to be carried by a letter carrier, and which letters contained obligations and securities of the United States of pecuniary value, called 'treasury notes.' There were sis other counts for a similar offense. Upon the trial in the district court, the jury found a verdict of guilty against petitioner. He thereupon made a motion in that court for a new trial, and likewise a motion in arrest of judgment. Pending the argument of these motions, the district court made an order transferring the cause to the circuit court for said district, which order is in the following language: 'It is now by the court ordered that this case be certified and remitted to the next circuit court of the United States for this district.' These motions were heard in the circuit court on the 11th day of March, 1889, before Judges HOWELL E. JACKSON, circuit judge, and HENRY B. BROWN, district judge, (38 F. 106,) and on the 12th day of March, 1889, the following order was entered of record: 'United States of America v. Charles Wight. In this cause the defendant's motions to set aside verdict and in arrest of judgment, after mature deliberation thereon, are by the court here now denied.' And on the same day, at the district court room in the city of Detroit, that court made the following entry: 'The United States v. Charles Wight, convicted on indictment for embezzling letters, etc. The court now deliver judgment on the motions to set aside the verdict rendered by the jury herein and for a new trial, heretofore argued and submitted; and thereupon it is ordered that said motions be, and the same are hereby, denied, and that the order heretofore made herein certifying this cause to the circuit court of the United States for this district be,

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and the same is hereby, vacated, as having been improvidently made. And the said defendant, being now placed at the bar of the court for sentence, thereupon the court do now sentence him, the said Charles Wight, to be imprisoned and kept at hard labor, at and in the Detroit house of correction, in the city of Detroit, Wayne county, Michigan, for the term of two years from and including this day, and to stand committed until the terms of this sentence are complied with.'

On the 25th of August, thereafter, an application was made to Mr. Justice HARLAN, of this court, who was the justice assigned at that time to the sixth circuit, for a writ of habeas corpus, to deliver the petitioner, [10 S.Ct. 488] Wight, from restraint in the Detroit house of correction, by Joseph Nicholson, its superintendent. On this application, Justice HARLAN made an order that a rule issue from the circuit court against the marshal of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan and the superintendent of the Detroit house of correction, returnable before that court within three days after service of process, to show why the habeas corpus should not issue as prayed in the petition. To this rule, Nicholson made a return, in which he said that he held the said Wight in restraint of his liberty, as a prisoner in the Detroit house of correction, by virtue of the judgment and sentence of the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan, rendered on the 12th day of March, 1889, a copy of which he set out. To this return, Wight, by his counsel, made exception by way of answer, in which he said that the district court for the eastern district of Michigan had not, at the time of the sentence referred to in said return, any jurisdiction over him, the said Wight, or any authority to pass sentence against him, because the said cause in which it pretended to pass sentence upon him on the 12th of March, 1889, had been duly certified and remitted from said district court into the circuit court of the United States in said district, and the transcript thereof duly filed, and that up to the date of said alleged sentence, to-wit, the 12th day of March, 1889, was, and at the date hereof is still, pending in the circuit court of

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the United States, as more fully and at length alleged and shown by the certified copies of the proceedings in said cause in the petition filed in this matter. Petitioner, Wight, also averred that the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Michigan never had or obtained jurisdiction over him, for the following reasons: That the indictment on which petitioner was arraigned and tried in said court did not charge the commission of any offense over which said court had jurisdiction, and because the evidence in the case did not establish any offense against the laws of the United States of which said district court had jurisdiction. Upon examination of the record of the circuit court in the case at this stage of the proceeding on the writ ofhabeas corpus, it was ascertained that no order remanding the case from the circuit court to the district court had been...

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