195 U.S. 100 (1904), 244, Kepner v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 244
Citation:195 U.S. 100, 24 S.Ct. 797, 49 L.Ed. 114
Party Name:Kepner v. United States
Case Date:May 31, 1904
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 100

195 U.S. 100 (1904)

24 S.Ct. 797, 49 L.Ed. 114



United States

No. 244

United States Supreme Court

May 31, 1904

Argued April 22, 1904



The expressed declarations of the President in Military Order, No. 58, of April 23, 1900, and in the act of July 1, 1902, establishing a civil government in the Philippine Islands, both adopting with little alteration the provisions of the Bill of Rights, show that it was intended to carry to the Philippine Islands those principles of our Government which the President declared to be established as rules of law for the maintenance of individual freedom, and those expressions were used in the sense which has been placed upon them in construing the instrument from which they were taken.

It is a well settled rule of construction that language used in a statute which has a settled and well known meaning, sanctioned by judicial decision, is presumed to be used in that sense by the legislative body.

It is a well settled principle of construction that specific terms covering the given subject matter will prevail over general language of the same or another statute which might otherwise prove controlling.

Although a right of appeal was given to the Government by Military Order, No. 58, in criminal cases in the Philippine Islands, § 5 of the act of July 1, 1902, establishing a civil government in the Islands, specifically provided that no person should be put twice in jeopardy for the same offense, thereby repealing the provision in the military order and nothing in § 9 of the act of 1902 can be construed as intending to prevail over the specific guaranty contained in § 5.

In ascertaining the meaning of a phrase in the Constitution taken from the Bill of Rights, it must be construed with reference to the common law from which it was taken.

Page 101

At common law, protection from second jeopardy for the same offense clearly included immunity from second prosecution where the court having jurisdiction had acquitted the accused of the offense, and it is the settled law of this court that former jeopardy includes one who has been acquitted by a verdict duly rendered, although no judgment be entered on the verdict and it was found upon a defective indictment. The second jeopardy is not against the peril of second judgment, but against being again tried for the same offense.

The facts, which involved the application of the constitutional immunity provision of the Constitution of the United States to the Philippine Islands, are stated in the opinion of the court.

Page 110

DAY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

Thomas E. Kepner, a practicing lawyer in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, was charged with a violation of the law in the embezzlement of the funds of his client (estafa). Upon trial, in November, 1901, in the court of first instance, without a jury, he was acquitted, it being the judgment of the court that he was not guilty of the offense charged. Upon appellate proceedings by the United States to the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands, the judgment of the court of first instance, finding the accused not guilty, was reversed, and Kepner was found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of one

Page 111

year, eight months and twenty-one days, suspended from any public office or place of trust, and deprived of the right of suffrage.

Error was assigned in the appellate court upon the ground that the accused had been put in jeopardy a second time by the appellate proceedings, in violation of the law against putting a person twice in jeopardy for the same offense, and contrary to the Constitution of the United States.

The appeal was taken by the United States on December 20, 1901. A motion to dismiss the appeal was made on January 1, 1902. The motion was finally overruled on October 11, 1902; the final decision in the case, finding the accused guilty and imposing the sentence, was rendered on December 3, 1902.

A proper consideration of the question herein made renders it necessary to notice some of the steps by which the jurisdiction of the courts in which the accused was tried was established.

The United States acquired the Philippine Islands by cession under the treaty of peace executed at Paris, between the United States and Spain, on December 10, 1898, the final ratifications being exchanged April 11, 1899.

The islands after American occupation had been under military rule prior to the creation of the Philippine Commission.

Under the control of the military government, orders had been issued, among others, military order number 58, dated April 23, 1900, which order was in part as follows:

General Orders, No. 58

Manila, P.I., April 23, 1900

In the interests of justice and to safeguard the civil liberties of the inhabitants of these islands, the criminal code of procedure now in force therein is hereby amended in certain of its important provisions as indicated in the following enumerated sections:

* * * *

Page 112

SEC. 3. All public offences triable in courts of first instance or in courts of similar jurisdiction, now established or that hereafter may be established, must be prosecuted by complaint or information.

* * * *

Rights of accused at the trial

SEC. 15. In all criminal prosecutions, the defendant shall be entitled:

1. To appear and defend in person and by counsel at every stage of the proceedings.

[24 S.Ct. 798]

2. To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.

3. To testify as a witness in his own behalf; but if a defendant offers himself as a witness, he may be cross-examined as any other witness. His neglect or refusal to be a witness shall not in any manner prejudice or be used against him.

4. To be exempt from testifying against himself.

5. To be confronted at the trial by and to cross-examine the witnesses against him. Where the testimony of a witness for the prosecution has previously been taken down by question and answers in the presence of the accused or his counsel, the defence having had an opportunity to cross-examine the witness, the deposition of the latter may be read, upon satisfactory proof to the court that he is dead or insane, or cannot with due diligence be found in the islands.

6. To have compulsory process issue for obtaining witnesses in his own favor.

7. To have a speedy and public trial.

8. To have the right of appeal in all cases.

* * * *

SEC. 43. From all final judgments of the courts of first instance or courts of similar jurisdiction, and in all cases in which the law now provides for appeals from said courts, an appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court as hereinafter prescribed.

SEC. 44. Either party may appeal from a final judgment

Page 113

or from an order made after judgment affecting the substantial rights of the appellant or in any case now permitted by law. The United States may also appeal from a judgment for the defendant rendered on a demurrer to an information or complaint, and from an order dismissing a complaint or information.

* * * *

SEC. 50. It shall not be necessary to forward to the Supreme Court the record, or any part thereof, of any case in which there shall have been an acquittal, or in which the sentence imposed does not exceed confinement in prison for one year, or a fine of 250 pesos, exclusive of costs, unless such case shall have been duly appealed. But such sentences shall be executed upon the order of the court in which the trial was had. The record in cases in which the death penalty, or imprisonment exceeding one year, or a fine exceeding 250 pesos, exclusive of costs of trial, shall have been imposed, shall be forwarded to the clerk of the criminal branch of the Supreme Court within twenty days, but not earlier than fifteen days after the rendition of the sentence. All cases involving sentence of death, or of imprisonment exceeding six years, or of fine exceeding 1250 pesos, or in which an appeal shall have been taken, shall be submitted to the criminal branch of the Supreme Court, and shall thereafter take the same course as is now provided by law. Cases forwarded to the Supreme Court involving sentences less serious than those hereinbefore last mentioned, and not appealed, shall be referred by the clerk to the ministerio fiscal for consideration, and if the latter return the same concurring in the sentence imposed, the record shall immediately be returned to the trial court for execution of sentence. If the ministerio fiscal shall not concur in the sentence, the case shall be submitted to the criminal branch of the Supreme Court, and shall thereafter take the same course as is now provided by law when that officer shall recommend a sentence in any respect more severe than that imposed by the trial judge, and for the consideration of the

Page 114

court, without the necessity of a further defence or hearing, when that officer recommends a lighter sentence.

This order was amended by an act of the commission (No.194), passed August 10, 1901, and is as follows:

(G) No.194. An act conferring jurisdiction on justices of the peace, &c.

SEC. 1. Every justice of the peace in the Philippine Islands is hereby invested with authority to make preliminary investigation of any crime alleged to have been committed within his municipality, jurisdiction to hear and determine which is by law now vested in the judges of courts of first instance.

SEC. 4. So much of section fifty of said general order number fifty-eight as requires courts of first instance, or clerks thereof, to forward to the Supreme Court or the ministerio fiscal the record of all criminal cases for revision or consideration, except where the death penalty is imposed as the judgment or part of the judgment of such court of first instance, is hereby repealed, and it shall not be necessary to forward to...

To continue reading