268 U.S. 442 (1925), 622, Knewel v. Egan

Docket NºNo. 622
Citation268 U.S. 442, 45 S.Ct. 522, 69 L.Ed. 1036
Party NameKnewel v. Egan
Case DateMay 25, 1925
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 442

268 U.S. 442 (1925)

45 S.Ct. 522, 69 L.Ed. 1036




No. 622

United States Supreme Court

May 25, 1925

Argued April 20, 1925




1. A sentence of a state court in a criminal case cannot be reviewed by habeas corpus in the federal court upon the ground that the information was insufficient as a pleading. P. 445.

2. Nor upon the ground that the information failed to allege venue, and that the state court denied the relator a constitutional right by holding the defect to have been waived under a state statute by failure to demur. P. 446.

3. Where a sheriff appealed to this Court from a judgment of the district court in habeas corpus discharging a state prisoner from his custody, and after going out of office, in collusion with the prisoner, moved a dismissal of the appeal, held that the motion should be denied, and that motions of the sheriff's successor to be substituted and of the state to intervene should be granted. P. 447.

298 F. 784, reversed.

Appeal from a judgment of the district court in habeas corpus, discharging the appellee from custody of the appellant as sheriff.

STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case comes here on appeal from the district court of the United States for the District of South Dakota from

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an order and judgment of that court on writ of habeas corpus, discharging the appellee from the custody of the appellant as sheriff of Minnehaha County, South Dakota.

Appellee was charged, on information by the state's attorney of that county, with the presentation of a false insurance claim in violation of § 4271 of the Revised Code of 1919 of South Dakota. He was convicted of violation of the statute, after trial by jury, in the South Dakota Circuit Court in May, 1920, and was sentenced to serve a term in the state penitentiary. On appeal to the supreme court of the state, judgment of conviction was vacated and new trial granted. State v. Egan, 44 S.D. 273.

Egan was again brought to trial on the same charge in April, 1922, and was again found guilty, and sentenced to serve a term in the state penitentiary. Upon appeal to the supreme court of the state, the judgment of conviction was affirmed. State v. Egan, 195 N.W. 642.

Before the district court, the appellee urged, as he urges here, two principal grounds for granting the writ -- namely, that the information on which the conviction was had did not describe a public offense, that in it no venue was laid, and that, in consequence, the trial court was without jurisdiction in the cause.

Section 4271 of the Revised Code of South Dakota, under which the conviction was had, so far as pertinent, reads as follows:

Every person who presents or causes to be presented any false or fraudulent claim, or any proof in support of any such claim, upon any contract of insurance for the payment of any loss, . . . is punishable by imprisonment in the state penitentiary not exceeding three years, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or both.

The information charged in substance that the Fireman's Insurance Company, a corporation of Newark, New Jersey, was empowered to do business in the State of South

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Dakota and in pursuance of this authority insured certain property of petitioner located in Minnehaha County, that the property was destroyed by fire, and that thereafter petitioner presented a false claim to its agents; the language of the information being:

and that thereafter and on or about the 9th day of January, 1920, the said defendant, George W. Egan, then and there did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously present and cause to be presented to F. C. Whitehouse & Co., who were at that time acting as the agents for the Firemen's Insurance Company of Newark, New Jersey, a false and fraudulent claim and proof in support of such claim.

The Circuit Court of Minnehaha County, in which appellee's trial and conviction were [45 S.Ct. 524] had, by the provisions of the Constitution of South Dakota (§ 14, Article 5) and the Revised Code of South Dakota, 1919, § 4653, is given original jurisdiction of all actions and causes both at law and in equity and original jurisdiction to try and determine all cases of felony. It accordingly had plenary jurisdiction to try the charge of violation of § 4271 of the Revised Code which makes the presentation of false or fraudulent insurance claims a crime punishable by imprisonment in the state penitentiary, which, by § 3573, is made a felony. The circuit court is not limited in its jurisdiction by the statutes of the state to any particular county. Its jurisdiction extends as far as the statute law extends in its application, namely, throughout the limits of the state. The only limitation in this regard contained in the statute is found in § 4654, which provides in substance that the issue of fact in any criminal case can only be tried in the court in which it is brought, or to which the place of trial is changed by order of the court.


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