Culp v. United States, 12219-12221.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtSANBORN, THOMAS, and JOHNSEN, Circuit
Citation131 F.2d 93
Docket NumberNo. 12219-12221.,12219-12221.
Decision Date04 November 1942

131 F.2d 93 (1942)



Nos. 12219-12221.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

November 4, 1942.

131 F.2d 94
131 F.2d 95
Charles D. Frierson, of Jonesboro, Ark. (Wils Davis, of Memphis, Tenn., and John A. Fogleman and James C. Hale, both of Marion, Ark., on the brief), for appellants

Leon B. Catlett and W. H. Gregory, Asst. U. S. Attys., both of Little Rock, Ark. (Sam Rorex, U. S. Atty., of Little Rock, Ark., and Thomas J. Dodd, Sp. Asst. to Atty. Gen., on the brief), for appellee.

Before SANBORN, THOMAS, and JOHNSEN, Circuit Judges.

131 F.2d 96

SANBORN, Circuit Judge.

The appellants and others were indicted under § 88, 18 U.S.C.A.,1 for having conspired to commit an offense defined in § 52, 18 U.S.C.A.2 These appeals are from judgments of conviction entered upon verdicts of a jury. The questions for review, are, broadly, (1) whether the indictment charged a conspiracy "to commit any offense against the United States," and (2) whether the appellants were denied a fair trial for any of the reasons asserted by them.

The defendants named in the indictment are Howard Curlin, Sheriff of Crittenden County, Arkansas, Omer Curlin, a Deputy Sheriff of that County and keeper of the county jail at Marion, Arkansas, C. C. Culp, a Deputy Sheriff of Crittenden County and City Marshal of the city of West Memphis, Arkansas, Harold D. Holland, a patrolman of the Arkansas State Police, Cecil B. Nance, a practicing attorney of Marion, Arkansas, and Jim Miller, an inmate of the Crittenden County Jail in Marion.

The indictment charges that the defendants Howard Curlin, Omer Curlin, C. C. Culp and Harold D. Holland were law enforcement officers of the State of Arkansas and of the County of Crittenden and of the governmental subdivisions thereof; that from on or about January 1, 1937, "up to and including on or about the 1st day of January, 1941," all of the defendants conspired to violate § 52, 18 U.S. C.A., in that they would, under color of specified laws of the State of Arkansas, of specified ordinances of the city of West Memphis, Arkansas, and of Marion, Arkansas, and under color of custom, subject certain named citizens and inhabitants of Arkansas, Tennessee and other States and inhabitants and citizens of various States whose names are unknown, all such persons, named and unnamed, being referred to collectively as "victims," to the deprivation of rights, privileges and immunities secured to them and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States — "to-wit: the right and privilege of being free from arrest and restraint of their liberty, save and except by due process of law, the right and privilege of being free from unlawful intimidation and unlawful assault on their persons, the right to be free from the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment upon their persons, the right to have a speedy and public trial, the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them, the said victims; the right to be admitted to bail; the right and privilege of being secure in their persons, property, and effects;" — by causing such inhabitants and citizens to be arrested without cause, to be imprisoned in the jail at West Memphis or at Marion, to be falsely charged with violations of the laws of Arkansas or the ordinances of West Memphis or of Marion, to be unlawfully held in jail for long periods of time without being permitted to communicate with any persons outside of jail, and to be beaten and assaulted for purposes of extortion; that, after the "victims" had been held in jail and assaulted, they would be advised that they could secure their release only by communicating with the defendant Nance; that Nance, when conferred with by the "victims," would tell them that they could be released only upon payment of large sums of money to Nance or to another of the defendants; that, after conferring with Nance, the "victims" would be permitted to communicate with relatives or friends to obtain the funds demanded for the release of the "victims;" and that, when the money had been obtained or delivered to Nance or one of the other defendants, the "victims" would, in many instances, be taken before local magistrates, who would be directed by one or more of the defendants to enter upon their (the magistrates') dockets the imposition of certain fines or pretended fines

131 F.2d 97
based upon false charges of crimes and misdemeanors filed by the defendants against the "victims" for the purpose of extorting money from them. The indictment then alleges that, in furtherance of the conspiracy, twenty-six overt acts were committed by one or more of the defendants. The overt acts include arrests and imprisonments of "victims," without cause, by Culp and Holland, and assaults committed upon "victims" by those officers, the receipt of money from "victims" by Nance and by Howard Curlin, paid to them by "victims" in order to secure release from imprisonment, the receipt by Jim Miller of money from "victims," paid to him "as the operator of a kangaroo court then and there conducted in the Crittenden County jail at Marion" and in order to avoid being beaten by him, extortion of money by Miller and Omer Curlin from a "victim" under threat of assault, the extortion of money from a "victim" by Nance, Culp and Holland, and an assault and beating committed upon a "victim" by Miller while the "victim" was in the Crittenden County jail at Marion

All of the defendants entered pleas of not guilty. Howard Curlin, the Sheriff of Crittenden County, died prior to the trial.

Since the appellants do not argue, in their brief, that the evidence of the Government was insufficient to sustain their convictions, a detailed discussion of the evidence is unnecessary. It is enough to say that the Government produced some fifty witnesses to sustain its charges, and that their evidence tended to prove a confederation of the defendants to procure the arrest and imprisonment, under color of state law, without cause, of inhabitants of the United States, and to abuse and mistreat them in order to induce them to purchase their release, and to make it appear upon the dockets of local magistrates that such inhabitants had entered pleas of guilty to, and had been fined for, offenses which they had not committed; that Culp, Holland, Howard Curlin, and Omer Curlin were officers of the State; that they, or some of them, would make the false arrests under color of state law and would abuse and beat the "victims" while arresting them and taking them to jail; that Omer Curlin was the keeper of the jail at Marion; that Jim Miller was an inmate of the jail and was the head of a "kangaroo court," and, as such, imposed small fines or fees upon the "victims;" that if they were unable or unwilling to pay these fines or fees, they were beaten with a leather strap; that Nance was the only lawyer and the only person, outside the jail, with whom the "victims" were initially allowed to communicate; that, after the "victims" had been advised by Nance of the amount of money required to secure their release, they were permitted to communicate with friends and relatives in order to secure the funds required; and that, when the money was paid over to Nance, the release of the "victims" followed.

The evidence of the defendants tended to show, in substance, that there was no collusion between them to have anyone falsely arrested or falsely imprisoned under color of state law; that the "victims" were all law violators, properly arrested and imprisoned, none of whom was assaulted unless in resisting arrest; that the "victims," if sober, were not prevented from communicating with friends, relatives and lawyers other than Nance; that the "victims" were not beaten or abused while in jail; that the activities of Jim Miller were confined to making voluntary collection of small sums to be used for the benefit of all inmates of the jail at Marion; and that Nance was regularly retained as a lawyer by the "victims" and acted as their counsel without any agreement with the other defendants as to splitting fees.

The jury acquitted Omer Curlin and Holland, but found the other defendants, who are the appellants here, guilty.

The first contention of the appellants is that the court had no jurisdiction to try them, because the offense which they are charged with having conspired to commit was not an...

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    ...cases of special interest. Neither has been overruled or questioned, as far as we can ascertain. In Culp v. United States, 8 Cir. 1942, 131 F.2d 93, at p. 98 the Court "We do not doubt that the immunity of an inhabitant of the United States from a deprivation of life, liberty, or property b......
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    ...of the rights charged to have been infringed. 25 Recent examples involving these and other rights are: Culp v. United States, 8 Cir., 131 F.2d 93; Catlette v. United States, 4 Cir., 132 F.2d 902; United States v. Sutherland, D.C., 37 F.Supp. 344; United States v. Trierweiler, D.C., 52 F.Sup......
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    ...Eighth Circuit has so declared in Ware v. United States, 154 F. 577, 12 L.R.A.,N.S., 1053, 12 Ann.Cas. 233, and in Culp v. United States, 131 F.2d 93, 100; so has the Ninth in Jones v. United States, 162 F. 417, 425 and in Hedderly v. United States, 193 F. 561, 569; and so has the Court of ......
  • Byrd v. Sexton, 16056.
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    ...and Brooks v. School District, 267 F.2d 733, certiorari denied 361 U.S. 894, 80 S.Ct. 196, 4 L.Ed.2d 151. Culp v. United States, 8 Cir., 131 F.2d 93, concerns the parallel criminal statute. 15 See also the Act of April 9, 1866, 14 Stat. 27, the Act of March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 484, and the Ac......
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