240 U.S. 60 (1916), 434, Lamar v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 434
Citation:240 U.S. 60, 36 S.Ct. 255, 60 L.Ed. 526
Party Name:Lamar v. United States *
Case Date:January 31, 1916
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 60

240 U.S. 60 (1916)

36 S.Ct. 255, 60 L.Ed. 526

Lamar

v.

United States *

No. 434

United States Supreme Court

January 31, 1916

Motion to dismiss or affirm submitted January 17, 1916

ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Syllabus

Jurisdiction is a matter of power, and covers wrong, as well as right, decisions.

The district court has cognizance of all crimes cognizable under the authority of the United States, and acts equally within its jurisdiction whether it decides that the accused is guilty or innocent, and whether its decision is right or wrong.

The objection that an indictment does not charge a crime against the United States goes only to the merits of the case.

The question in what sense the word officer is used in § 32, Criminal Code, is not one involving the Constitution of the United States.

The same words may have different meanings as differently used, and

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the word "officer" may be used in § 32 of the Criminal Code in a different sense from what it is used in the Constitution, and whether § 32 covers falsely personating a Congressman and whether a Congressman is a state or federal officer are not constitutional questions which can be made the basis of a direct appeal under Jud.Code, § 21. Under § 32, Crim.Code, the indictment is not for defrauding, but for false personation with intent to defraud, and the nature of the fraud is immaterial.

False personation by telephone of an officer of the United States takes effect where the hearer is, and whether the speaker is or is not in the same district where the former is, the district court of that district has jurisdiction of the offense under § 32, Criminal Code.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of the district court of the crime of falsely personating an officer of the United States, to-wit, a member of the House of Representatives, are stated in the opinion.

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HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

The plaintiff in error was tried and convicted upon an indictment charging him with having falsely pretended to be an officer of the government of the United States, to-wit, a member of the House of Representatives, that is to say, A. Mitchell Palmer, a member of Congress, with intent to defraud J. P. Morgan & Company...

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