433 U.S. 676 (1977), 76-1206, Finch v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 76-1206
Citation:433 U.S. 676, 97 S.Ct. 2909, 53 L.Ed.2d 1048
Party Name:Finch v. United States
Case Date:June 29, 1977
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 676

433 U.S. 676 (1977)

97 S.Ct. 2909, 53 L.Ed.2d 1048

Finch

v.

United States

No. 76-1206

United States Supreme Court

June 29, 1977

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES

COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Where, prior to any declaration of guilt or innocence, the District Court dismissed an information against petitioner on the ground that it failed to state an offense, the Government's appeal from the dismissal was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause.

Certiorari granted; 548 F.2d 822, vacated and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM

In an information filed in the United States District Court for the District of Montana, petitioner was charged with knowingly fishing on a portion of the Big Horn River in Montana reserved for use by the Crow Indians, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1165. The case was submitted to the District Court on an agreed statement of facts, which showed that petitioner had cast his lure into the river while standing on land owned by the State of Montana within the exterior boundaries of the Crow Reservation. After considering the stipulated facts and reviewing the applicable treaties, the court dismissed the information for failure to state an offense. 395 F.Supp. 205 (1975).

On the Government's appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. 548 F.2d 822 (1976). The court held that the appeal was permissible under 18 U.S.C. § 3731 [97 S.Ct. 2910] and the Double Jeopardy Clause because, as in United States v. Wilson, 420 U.S. 332 (1975), no further factual proceedings would be required in the District Court in the event that its legal conclusions were found to be erroneous:

Here, as in Wilson, it is easy to separate factual resolutions from determinations of law. No additional facts must be found to determine whether the stipulation supports the conviction of the defendant. The only determination to be made is a legal one.

548 F.2d at 827.

Page 677

On the merits, the court viewed the pertinent treaties differently from the District Court, and held that petitioner had violated 18 U.S.C. § 1165 "by willfully and knowingly fishing without lawful authority or permission of the tribe." 548 F.2d at 835. The court directed entry of a judgment of conviction.

We think that the Court of Appeals was without jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. When the District Court dismissed the information, jeopardy had attached, see Serfass v. United States, 420 U.S. 377, 388 (1975), but no formal finding of guilt or innocence had been entered, see United States v. Jenkins, 420 U.S. 358 (1975); Lee v. United States, 432 U.S. 23, 28 n. 4, 29 n. 7 (1977). In these circumstances, the holding of United...

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