Beazell v. State of Ohio Chatfield v. Same, s. 247

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation70 L.Ed. 216,46 S.Ct. 68,269 U.S. 167
Docket NumberNos. 247,248,s. 247
Decision Date16 November 1925

Messrs. Province M. Pogue and Harry M. Hoffheimer, both of Cincinnati, Ohio, for plaintiff in error Beazell.

Mr. Frank F. Dinsmore, of Cincinnati, Ohio, for plaintiff in error Chatfield.

Mr. John Wilson Brown, III, of Washington, D. C., for defendants in error.

Mr. Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Plaintiffs in error were jointly indicted in the court of common pleas of Hamilton county, Ohio, for the crime of embezzlement, a felony. On February 13, 1923, the date of the offense as charged, Ohio General Code, § 13677, provided:

'When two or more persons are jointly indicted for a felony, on application to the court for that purpose, each shall be tried separately.'

In April of the same year, before the indictment, which was returned on October 25, this section was amended (110 Ohio Laws, p. 301) so as to provide 'When two or more persons are jointly indicted for a felony, except a capital offense, they shall be tried jointly, unless the court for good cause shown, on application therefor by the prosecuting attorney, or one or more of said defendants order that one or more of said defendants shall be tried separately.'

By another section, the amended act was made applicable to trials for offenses committed before the amendment.

The defendants severally made motions for separate trials on the ground that their defenses would be different, that each would be prejudiced by the introduction of evidence admissible against his codefendant, but inadmissible as to him, and that they were entitled to separate trials as a matter of right, specifically charging that as applied to their own indictment and trial, 'the amendment to the statutes of Ohio making the granting of said application for a separate trial discretionary with the trial court, is an ex post facto law within the restrictions imposed by article 1, § 10, of the Constitution of the United States,' which provides that 'no state shall * * * pass any * * * ex post facto law.'

Both motions were denied, the joint trial and conviction of the defendants followed, and in proceedings duly had in which the constitutional question was raised, their conviction was sustained by the Supreme Court of Ohio. The case comes before this court on motions to dismiss the writs of error or to affirm the judgment below.

It is settled, by decisions of this court so well known that their citation may be dispensed with, that any statute which punishes as a crime an act previously committed, which was innocent when done, which makes more burdensome the punishment for a crime, after its commission, or which deprives one charged with crime of any defense available according to law at the time when the act was committed, is prohibited as ex post facto. The constitutional prohibition and the judicial interpretation of it rest upon the notion that laws, whatever their form, which purport to make innocent acts criminal after the event, or to aggravate an offense, are harsh and oppressive, and that the criminal quality attributable to an act, either by the legal definition of the offense or by the nature or amount of the punishment imposed for its commission, should not be altered by legislative enactment, after the fact, to the disadvantage of the accused.

But the state of Ohio here drawn in question affects only the manner in which the trial of those jointly accused shall be conducted. It does not deprive the plaintiffs in error of any defense previously available, nor affect the criminal quality of the act charged. Nor does it change the legal definition of the offense or the punishment to be meted out. The quantum and kind of proof required to establish guilt, and all questions which may be considered by the court and jury in determining guilt or innocence, remain the same.

Expressions are to be found in earlier judicial opinions to the effect that the constitutional limitation may be transgressed by alterations in the rules of evidence or procedure. See Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 390, 1 L. Ed. 648; Cummings v. State of Missouri, 4 Wall. 277, 326, 18 L. Ed. 356; Kring v. Missouri, 107 U. S. 221, 228, 232, 2 S. Ct. 443, 27 L. Ed. 506. And there may be procedural changes which operate to deny to the accused a defense available under the laws in force at the time of the commission of his offense, or which otherwise affect him in such a harsh and arbitrary manner...

To continue reading

Request your trial
815 cases
  • United States v. Walker, Crim. A. No. 80-486.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 7 May 1981
    ...... to vote whether to return an indictment on the same evidence that the government will introduce at trial under ... See, 514 F. Supp. 309 e. g., Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 97 S.Ct. 2221, 53 L.Ed.2d 187 (1977) ...This holding was designed to accommodate the state's interest in following "the `prevalent modern philosophy ...'") (quoting Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 169-70, 46 S.Ct. 68, 70 L.Ed. 216 ......
  • Wilson v. Superior Court, Los Angeles County
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 23 July 1982
    ...v. Missouri, 107 U.S. 221 [2 S.Ct. 443, 27 L.Ed. 506].) As the United States Supreme Court pointed out in Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 171 [46 S.Ct. 68, 69, 70 L.Ed. 216, 218], the distinction between a procedural change which transgresses the Constitution if given a retroactive applicati......
  • In re Nezirovic
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • 16 September 2013 a crime an act previously committed, which was innocent when done . . . is prohibited as ex post facto." (quoting Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 169-70 (1925)). Nezirovic asserts that under thePage 16Extradition Treaty, therefore, the charges he faces in Bosnia for war crimes and torture......
  • Nuh Nhuoc Loi v. Scribner, Civil No. 08cv1619-BTM (PCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • 2 December 2009
    ...115 S.Ct. 1597, 131 L.Ed.2d 588 (1995), Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) and Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 46 S.Ct. 68, 70 L.Ed. 216 The United States Supreme Court has consistently rejected ex post facto challenges to recidivism laws which permit e......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT