306 U.S. 19 (1939), 359, Bowen v. Johnston

Docket NºNo. 359
Citation306 U.S. 19, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455
Party NameBowen v. Johnston
Case DateJanuary 30, 1939
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 19

306 U.S. 19 (1939)

59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455

Bowen

v.

Johnston

No. 359

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 30, 1939

Argued January 11, 1939

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. The United States has constitutional power to acquire land within the exterior limits of a State for a national park. P. 23.

2. As a general rule, review of a determination of the District Court affirming its jurisdiction involving imprisonment for crime is by appellate procedure and not by habeas corpus. P. 23.

This rule is not one defining power to grant the writ, but one which relates to the appropriate exercise of power. P. 26.

3. Habeas corpus may be appropriately granted where jurisdiction in the criminal case depended upon a question of law, there being no dispute of facts, and where the need for the inquiry is made apparent by exceptional circumstances. P. 27.

Page 20

Such exceptional circumstances existed in this case, which involved a sentence by the District Court for murder committed in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park, in Georgia. There appeared to be uncertainty and confusion as to whether offenses within the Park were triable by the state or the federal courts. It was represented that murder cases had been tried in each. It did not appear of record that the District Court had considered the question of jurisdiction. There had been no appeal, and it was contended that a reading of the Georgia statute of consent and cession would show that the United States had not acquired jurisdiction so as to bring the offense charged in the indictment within the class of offenses cognizable in the District Court.

4. In habeas corpus by one imprisoned for a murder committed in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park in Georgia, the sole question was whether the United States had exclusive jurisdiction over land in the Park, in virtue of having acquired it by consent of or cession from the Georgia legislature.

Held:

(1) The federal courts take judicial notice of the Georgia statutes. P. 23.

(2) If these statutes did not give to the United States exclusive jurisdiction over the Park, the indictment did not charge a crime cognizable under the authority of the United States. Id.

(3) Although, in earlier Acts consenting to acquisitions and ceding jurisdiction of land for the Park, criminal jurisdiction was specifically reserved by the State, exclusive jurisdiction was ceded by the general Act of 1927, purporting to cede exclusive jurisdiction to the United States over any land

which has been or may hereafter be acquired for custom-houses, post-offices, arsenals, other public buildings whatever, or for any other purposes of government,

and which reserved the right to serve civil and criminal processes but not criminal jurisdiction over offenses within the ceded territory. P. 28.

(4) This conclusion has support in administrative construction. P. 29.

Referring to an opinion of the Judge Advocate General, July 14, 1930, when the Park was in charge of the War Department.

97 F.2d 860 affirmed.

Certiorari, 305 U.S. 579, to review affirmance below of an order of the District Court denying a petition for a writ of habeas corps.

Page 21

HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner was convicted, in 1933, in the District Court of the Northern District of Georgia, of murder committed in 1930 on the Government Reservation known as the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park within the exterior limits of the State of Georgia. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life, and is confined in the prison at Alcatraz, California.

In 1937, he presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the District Judge of the Northern District of California alleging that the indictment was void, and no legal judgment could be based thereon, as it failed to show jurisdiction over the person and subject matter; that the United States did not have exclusive jurisdiction over the Park.1 He also alleged that, on his trial, the court did not have the evidence taken down and preserved so that he might appeal, and that, upon this ground and others, he had been deprived of his liberty without due process of law. A copy of the indictment was annexed to the petition. Pursuant to an order to show cause, the Warden made return showing the judgment and the record of commitment. On the return [59 S.Ct. 444] day, there was no appearance of petitioner's attorneys, and no evidence, apart from the return and the attached exhibits, was offered. The petition was submitted and later was denied

Page 22

without opinion. On appeal, the order was affirmed. Bowen v. Johnson, 97 F.2d 860.

The principal contention before the Circuit Court of Appeals was that the United States did not have exclusive jurisdiction over the Park, and hence that the District Court in Georgia did not have jurisdiction to try the petitioner. The court, taking the view that the United States could constitutionally acquire jurisdiction over the Park (Collins v. Yosemite Park Co., 304 U.S. 518), held that the question whether the United States did acquire such jurisdiction could not be raised on habeas corpus. In view of the importance of the question thus presented, we granted certiorari. October 10, 1938, 305 U.S. 579.

First. Jurisdiction is conferred upon the District Courts "of all crimes and offenses cognizable under the authority of the United States." Jud.Code, § 24, 28 U.S.C. § 41(2).

Crimes are thus cognizable --

When committed within or on any lands reserved or acquired for the exclusive use of the United States, and under the exclusive jurisdiction thereof, or any place purchased or otherwise acquired by the United States by consent of the legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of a fort, magazine, arsenal, dockyard, or other needful building.

Crim.Code, § 272, 18 U.S.C. § 451, Third.

The last clause covers cases where exclusive jurisdiction is acquired by the United States pursuant to Article 1, § 8, paragraph 17, of the Constitution.

In the instant case, no question of fact was presented with respect to the place where the crime was committed. The indictment specified the place, that is --

a certain place and on certain lands reserved and acquired for the exclusive use of the United States and under exclusive jurisdiction thereof, and acquired by the United States by consent of the Legislature of the State

Page 23

of Georgia, to-wit: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park, sometimes known as Chickmauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, in said State of Georgia.

The sole question was whether this Park was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. There is no question that the United States had the constitutional power to acquire the territory for the purpose of a national park, and that it did acquire it. Whether or not the National Government acquired exclusive jurisdiction over the lands within the Park or the State reserved, as it could, jurisdiction over the crimes there committed, depended upon the terms of the consent or cession given by the legislature of Georgia. Collins v. Yosemite Park Co., supra, pp. 529. See also James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U.S. 134, 146-148. The federal courts take judicial notice of the Georgia statutes. Owings v. Hull, 9 Pet. 607; Lamar v. Micou, 114 U.S. 218, 223. If these statutes did not give to the United States exclusive jurisdiction over the Park, the indictment did not charge a crime cognizable under the authority of the United States.

Second. Where the District Court has jurisdiction of the person and the subject matter in a criminal prosecution, the writ of habeas corpus cannot be used as a writ of error. The judgment of conviction is not subject to collateral attack. Ex parte Watkins, 3 Pet. 193, 203; Ex parte Parks, 93 U.S. 18, 23; Harlan v. McGourin, 218 U.S. 442, 448; McMicking v. Schields, 238 U.S. 99, 107; Riddle v. Dyche, 262 U.S. 333, 335; Craig v. Hecht, 263 U.S. 255, 277. The scope of review on habeas corpus is limited to the examination of the jurisdiction of the court whose judgment of conviction is challenged. Ex parte Siebold, 100 U.S. 371, 375; Ex parte Bigelow, 113 U.S. 328, 331; Matter of Gregory, 219 U.S. 210, 213; Glasgow v. Moyer, 225 U.S. 420, 429; Knewel v. Egan,

Page 24

268 U.S. 442, 445. But if it be found that the court had no jurisdiction to try the petitioner, or [59 S.Ct. 445] that in its proceedings his constitutional rights have been denied, the remedy of habeas corpus is available. Ex parte Lange, 18 Wall. 163, 178; Ex parte Crow Dog, 109 U.S. 556, 572; In re Snow, 120 U.S. 274, 285; Ex parte Coy, 127 U.S. 731, 751, 758; Hans Nielsen, Petitioner, 131 U.S. 176, 182; In re Bonner, 151 U.S. 242, 257; Moore v. Dempsey, 261 U.S. 86, 91; Johnson v. Zerbst, ...

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469 practice notes
  • 129 F.2d 779 (10th Cir. 1942), 2475, Baker v. Hudspeth
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • July 9, 1942
    ...151 U.S. 242, 259, 14 S.Ct. 323, 38 L.Ed. 149; Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461; Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455, and Huntley v. Schilder, 10 Cir., 125 F.2d 250. Cf. Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309, 35 S.Ct. 582, 59 L.Ed. 969; Mooney v. ......
  • 228 F.Supp. 329 (S.D.N.Y. 1964), United States v. Gernie
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • April 8, 1964
    ...remedy. See Glidden Co. v. Zdanok, 370 U.S. 530, 535-537, 82 S.Ct. 1459, 8 L.Ed.2d 671 (1962) (Opinion of Harlan, J.); Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455 (1939); United States v. Allocco, 305 F.2d 704 (2 Cir. 1962), cert. den., 371 U.S. 964, 83 S.Ct. 545, 9 L.Ed.2d 5......
  • 339 F.Supp. 446 (D. Puerto Rico 1971), Civ. 545-71, Donovan v. Delgado
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Puerto Rico
    • October 15, 1971
    ...v. Meacham (10 Cir. 1969), 416 F.2d 36, certiorari granted 397 U.S. 1962, 90 S.Ct. 1505, 25 L.Ed.2d 683. [9] Bowen v. Johnston, 1939, 306 U.S. 19, 27, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455. See also Frisbie v. Collins, 1952, 342 U.S. 519, 72 S.Ct. 509, 96 L.Ed. 541, reh. den. 343 U.S. 937, 72 S.Ct. 76......
  • 517 F.2d 589 (7th Cir. 1975), 74-1210, Bachner v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • June 5, 1975
    ...present 'exceptional circumstances where the need for the remedy afforded by the writ of habeas corpus is apparent.' Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 27, 59 S.Ct. 442, 446, 83 L.Ed. 455." (Other cases also cited.) [3] This language originally appeared in Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, ......
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459 cases
  • 129 F.2d 779 (10th Cir. 1942), 2475, Baker v. Hudspeth
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • July 9, 1942
    ...151 U.S. 242, 259, 14 S.Ct. 323, 38 L.Ed. 149; Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461; Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455, and Huntley v. Schilder, 10 Cir., 125 F.2d 250. Cf. Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309, 35 S.Ct. 582, 59 L.Ed. 969; Mooney v. ......
  • 228 F.Supp. 329 (S.D.N.Y. 1964), United States v. Gernie
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • April 8, 1964
    ...remedy. See Glidden Co. v. Zdanok, 370 U.S. 530, 535-537, 82 S.Ct. 1459, 8 L.Ed.2d 671 (1962) (Opinion of Harlan, J.); Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455 (1939); United States v. Allocco, 305 F.2d 704 (2 Cir. 1962), cert. den., 371 U.S. 964, 83 S.Ct. 545, 9 L.Ed.2d 5......
  • 339 F.Supp. 446 (D. Puerto Rico 1971), Civ. 545-71, Donovan v. Delgado
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Puerto Rico
    • October 15, 1971
    ...v. Meacham (10 Cir. 1969), 416 F.2d 36, certiorari granted 397 U.S. 1962, 90 S.Ct. 1505, 25 L.Ed.2d 683. [9] Bowen v. Johnston, 1939, 306 U.S. 19, 27, 59 S.Ct. 442, 83 L.Ed. 455. See also Frisbie v. Collins, 1952, 342 U.S. 519, 72 S.Ct. 509, 96 L.Ed. 541, reh. den. 343 U.S. 937, 72 S.Ct. 76......
  • 517 F.2d 589 (7th Cir. 1975), 74-1210, Bachner v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • June 5, 1975
    ...present 'exceptional circumstances where the need for the remedy afforded by the writ of habeas corpus is apparent.' Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 27, 59 S.Ct. 442, 446, 83 L.Ed. 455." (Other cases also cited.) [3] This language originally appeared in Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, ......
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    • Columbia Journal of Gender and Law Vol. 30 Nbr. 2, July 2015
    • July 22, 2015
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    ...571. (273.) Smith v. Bennett, 365 U.S. 708, 712 (1961). (274.) Ex parte Yerger, 75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 85, 95 (1869). (275.) Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 26 (1939). (276.) See Lonchar v. Thomas, 517 U.S. 314, 322-23 (1996)....
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    ...(quoting Williams v. Kaiser, 323 U.S. 471, 484 n.2 (1945))). (159.) Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 485 (1969) (quoting Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 26 (1939)). (160.) 5 u.s. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). (161.) Id. at 170. (162.) U.S. CONST. art. II, [section] 2, cl. 2. (163.) 5 U.S. (1 Cranch......
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