Brede v. Powers, 45

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMcKENNA
Citation263 U.S. 4,44 S.Ct. 8,68 L.Ed. 132
PartiesBREDE v. POWERS, U. S. Marshal, Eastern District of New York
Docket NumberNo. 45,45
Decision Date22 October 1923

263 U.S. 4
44 S.Ct. 8
68 L.Ed. 132


POWERS, U. S. Marshal, Eastern District of New York.

No. 45.
Argued Oct. 4, 1923.
Decided Oct. 22, 1923.

Page 5

Messrs. Otho S. Bowling, of New York City, and Morris Kamber, of Brooklyn, N. Y., for appellant.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 5-9 intentionally omitted]

Page 9

The Attorney General, for respondent.

Mr. Justice McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.

Dismissal of a writ of habeas corpus is assailed by this appeal. It was issued to review the legality of a conviction upon information and a sentence of imprisonment upon it. In detail of the grounds and justification of it, the charge of the petition is that appellant was proceeded against in the District Court upon an information charging him with a violation of section 21, title 2, of the Act of Congress of October 28, 1919, the National Prohibition Act (41 Stat. 314), and convicted on the 17th day of June, 1920, and sentenced to pay a fine of $500 and be imprisoned for 60 days. In execution of the sentence it is alleged that he was committed to the custody of the appellee, he being the United States marshal for the Eastern district of New York.

The further allegation of the petition is that the court 'never acquired jurisdiction of the pretended criminal action upon which, in form, it tried and condemned' him, 'for the reason that the crime of which' he 'was charged and for which said court sought to try and condemn' him 'is an infamous crime within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and no presentment or indictment of a grand jury charging same, was ever filed or presented.'

After hearing, the writ was discharged and appellant was remanded to the custody of the marshal to serve his sentence under the commitment, which was to the county jail of Essex county, New Jersey.

Is the contention of appellant justified, in that his was a conviction and commitment of an infamous crime? It is upon this contention that his petition rests.

Page 10

It has been decided that a crime takes on the quality of infamy if it be one punishable by imprisonment at hard labor or in a penitentiary, and must be proceeded against upon presentment or indictment of a grand jury. Ex parte Wilson, 114 U. S. 417, 5 Sup. Ct. 935, 29 L. Ed. 89; Mackin v. United States, 117 U. S. 348, 6 Sup. Ct. 777, 29 L. Ed. 909; United States v. Moreland, 258 U. S. 433, 42 Sup. Ct. 368, 66 L. Ed. 700, 24 A. L. R. 992. And such is the quality of the crime and the procedure against it, if the statute authorizes the court to condemn to such punishment. See, also, In re Bonner, 151 U. S. 242, 14 Sup. Ct. 323, 28 L. Ed. 149; In re Mills, 135 U. S. 263, 10 Sup. Ct. 762, 34 L. Ed. 107.

Or to put it as counsel puts it:

'The construction of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is this: An infamous crime is one that carries infamous punishment; the test does not depend upon the punishment that ultimately happens to be inflicted, but upon the punishment the court has power to inflict.'

To show the pertinence of the test and its adaptation to the case, it is the contention of the appellant that the court had power, and only power, to sentence him to imprisonment in a penal institution of New York, and that by the law of the state, by federal statute made applicable to federal prisoners therein, imprisonment is at hard labor.

The argument by which the contention is attempted to be sustained is somewhat strained. It rests upon the power the statutes give to the courts to specify the places of imprisonment, which began, it is said, in 1789. By a Resolution then passed, the state Legislatures were recommended to receive and keep prisoners committed under the authority of the United States 'under the like penalties as in the case of...

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28 cases
  • Bartos v. United States District Court, 7561.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • May 17, 1927
    ...--------Notes: 1 Ex parte Secombe, 19 How. 9, 15 L. Ed. 565; Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U. S. (13 Wall.) 335, 20 L. Ed. 646; Brede v. Powers, 263 U. S. 4, 44 S. Ct. 8, 68 L. Ed. 132; In re Keegan (C. C.) 31 F. 129; Haussener v. United States (C. C. A.) 4 F.(2d) 884; Rudolph v. United States, 55 ......
  • Albrecht v. United States, 9
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 3, 1927
    ...§ 10138 1/4 et seq.). Page 4 There is no contention that the offenses charged could not be prosecuted by information. See Brede v. Powers, 263 U. S. 4, 10, 44 S. Ct. 8, 68 L. Ed. 132; Rossini v. United States (C. C. A.) 6 F.(2d) 350. The claims mainly urged are that, because of defects in t......
  • In re Grand Jury Investigation of the Shipping Industry, Misc. No. 5-60.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 14, 1960
    ...of more than one year imprisonment, it has been held to be an infamous crime. Ex parte Brede, D.C.E.D.N.Y.1922, 279 F. 147, affirmed 1923, 263 U.S. 4, 44 S.Ct. 8, 68 L.Ed. 132. However, Rule 7(a) does not confine prosecution by indictment to infamous crimes. It merely requires that infamous......
  • Commonwealth v. Cano, 3702
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • December 28, 1956
    ...which is whether the accused is made subject to punishment by imprisonment in a penitentiary or at hard labor. See Brede v. Powers, 263 U.S. 4, 44 S.Ct. 8, 68 L.Ed. 132; Mackin v. United States, 117 U.S. 348, 350, 351, 6 S.Ct. 777, 29 L.Ed. 909, 910, 911; Ex parte Wilson, supra, 114 U.S. 41......
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