293 U.S. 131 (1934), 15, McNally v. Hill

Docket Nº:No. 15
Citation:293 U.S. 131, 55 S.Ct. 24, 79 L.Ed. 238
Party Name:McNally v. Hill
Case Date:November 05, 1934
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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293 U.S. 131 (1934)

55 S.Ct. 24, 79 L.Ed. 238

McNally

v.

Hill

No. 15

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 5, 1934

Argued October 12, 1934

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. A prisoner who had been convicted and sentenced on three counts of an indictment, the sentence on the first count running concurrently with that on the second, and the sentence on the second and third counts running consecutively, petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting the invalidity of the conviction and sentence on the third count, and assigning as reason for the granting of the writ that consideration by the Parole Board of any application for a parole was precluded as a result of the void sentence. It was conceded that the sentence on the second count, the validity of which was not challenged, had not expired, and that service of sentence on the third had not yet begun. Held that, as the detention under the sentence on the second count was lawful, the writ of habeas corpus could not be used to inquire into the validity of the conviction under the third count. P. 135.

2. The meaning of the term habeas corpus and the appropriate use of the writ in the federal courts must be ascertained by reference to

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the common law and to the decisions of this Court interpreting and applying the common law principles which define its use when authorized by the statute. P. 136.

3. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, 31 Car. II, c. 2, and the decisions of the English courts interpreting it have been accepted by this Court as authoritative guides in defining the principles which control the use of the writ in the federal courts. P. 136.

4. The writ of habeas corpus may not be used in the federal courts as a means of securing the judicial decision of a question which, even if determined in the prisoner's favor, could not result in his immediate release. P. 136.

5. A sentence which the prisoner has not begun to serve cannot be the cause of restraint which the statute makes subject to judicial inquiry. P. 137.

6. This Court has consistently refused, wherever the issue has been presented, to review upon habeas corpus questions which do not concern the lawfulness of the detention. P. 139.

69 F.2d 38 affirmed.

Certiorari, 292 U.S. 619, to review a judgment affirming a judgment dismissing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

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STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Certiorari, 292 U.S. 619, brings this case here for review of a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals directing dismissal, on the merits, of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned upon two indictments framed under the Conspiracy Act of May 17, 1879, c. 8, 21 Stat. 4, as amended by Act of March 4, 1909, c. 321, § 37, 35 Stat. 1088, 1096, U.S.C. Title 18, § 88, and the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act of October 29, 1919, c. 89, 41 Stat. 324, 325, U.S.C. Title 18, § 408. The indictment which alone need be considered here was in three counts: the first charged petitioner and others with conspiracy to violate the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Theft Act; the second, the interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle, and the third, which is assailed here, the violation of § 4 of the Motor Vehicle Theft Act by the sale in New Jersey of a motor vehicle which had been stolen in New York, "knowing that the vehicle had been so stolen and transported in interstate commerce." Petitioner was sentenced for a term of two years on the first count and for terms of four years each on the second and third counts, the sentence on the first to run concurrently with that on the second, the sentence on the second and third to run consecutively. Service of sentence was begun on November 30, 1931. It is conceded that the

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sentence on the second count, less allowances for good behavior, has not expired, and that service of sentence on the third has not yet begun.

On April 6, 1933, the petitioner filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus in the District Court for the Middle district of Pennsylvania. He assailed the conviction and sentence on the third count as void. No attack was made on the conviction and sentence on the other counts, but the petition advanced as reasons for granting the writ that, under the Parole Act of June 25, 1910, c. 387, § 1, 36 Stat. 819, as amended by the Act of January 23, 1913, c. 9, 37 Stat. 650, U.S.C. Tit. 18, § 714, petitioner was eligible to apply for parole, to be granted, in the discretion of the parole board, after serving one-third of his sentence; that he had served one-third or more of the valid sentence on the first and second counts, but less than one-third of the total period of imprisonment...

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