Dobbins Distillery v. United States

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtCLIFFORD
Citation96 U.S. 395,24 L.Ed. 637
Decision Date01 October 1877
PartiesDOBBINS'S DISTILLERY v. UNITED STATES

96 U.S. 395
24 L.Ed. 637
DOBBINS'S DISTILLERY
v.
UNITED STATES.
October Term, 1877

ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Iowa.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.

Page 396

Mr. Robert G. Ingersoll and Mr. A. L. Merriman for the plaintiff in error, cited Wharton, Crim. Law, 325.

Mr. Assistant-Attorney-General Smith, contra.

MR. JUSTICE CLIFFORD delivered the opinion of the court.

Judicial proceedings in rem, to enforce a forfeiture, cannot in general be properly instituted until the property inculpated is previously seized by the executive authority, as it is the preliminary seizure of the property that brings the same within the reach of such legal process. The Schooner Anne, 9 Cranch, 289.

Due executive seizure was made in this case of the distillery, and of the real and personal property used in connection with the same; and the information in due form was subsequently filed praying for process, and that the property seized should be condemned by the definitive sentence of the court. Pursuant to the prayer of the information, the record shows that process of monition was issued in due form, and that it was duly served by the marshal. Sixteen causes of forfeiture were alleged in the information, all of which, except the first three, were abandoned at the trial.

Sufficient appears to show that the claimant was the owner of the distillery and all the other property seized, and that he, prior to the alleged causes of seizure and forfeiture, leased the property to the party in possession of the same at the time the alleged acts of forfeiture were perpetrated by the lessee and occupant. Three of the alleged causes of forfeiture only need be noticed, and they are in substance and effect as follows:——

1. That the lessee, occupant, and operator of the distillery neglected and refused to keep the books required by law, and make the required entries in the same; that he made false entries in the books kept in the distillery, and that he omitted to enter in the same the facts required by law, with intent to defraud the revenue, and to conceal from the revenue officers facts and particulars required to be stated and entered in such books, with like intent to defraud the revenue; and that he refused to produce the books kept in the distillery when thereto requested by the revenue officers, contrary to the statute in such case made and provided. 15 Stat. 132.

Page 397

2. That the distillery, the distilled spirits, and distilling apparatus seized were owned by the lessee, occupant, and operator, and some other person unknown, and were intended to be used by the owners in the business of a distiller, in a manner to defraud the United States, contrary to the act of Congress. Id. 142.

3. That the property seized was used by its owners to defraud the United States of the tax to which the spirits distilled were by law subject, and that the United States had been thereby defrauded of a part of such tax, in violation of law. Id. 59.

Service was made; and the owner and lessor of the distillery and other property seized appeared, and was permitted by leave of court to make defence. His defence consists of an averment that he has no knowledge or information upon the subject of the information, and of a denial of each and every one of the charges made against the property seized. Issue being joined, the parties went to trial, and the verdict and decree of condemnation were in favor of the plaintiffs. Exceptions were duly filed by the claimant; and he sued out a writ of error, and removed the cause into this court.

Matters set forth in the bill of exceptions which are not assigned for error will not be re-examined.

Four errors are assigned, in substance and effect as follows: 1. That the court erred in admitting in evidence the statements of the lessee of the property, as contained in the first paragraph of the bill of exceptions. 2. That the court erred in admitting the evidence set forth in that part of the bill of exceptions denominated paragraphs 2 and 3. 3. That the court erred in charging the jury that it was unnecessary for them to find that the claimant was implicated in the frauds of the lessee and operator of the distillery, or that he had any knowledge of his fraudulent acts or omissions. That if the jury find that the claimant leased the property to the occupant and operator for the purposes of a distillery, and that the lessee committed the alleged frauds, the government is entitled to a verdict, even though the jury should be of opinion that the claimant was ignorant of the lessee's fraudulent acts and omissions. 4. That the court erred in including the real estate in the decree of condemnation or forfeiture.

Page 398

Instructions not included in the assignment of errors were given by the court to the jury, which deserve to be briefly noticed before proceeding to examine the rulings and instruction of the court, which, it is insisted, present a sufficient cause to reverse the judgment.

Requests for instructions having been presented by the claimant, and the same having been refused, the court, of its own motion, instructed the jury to the effect, that if the evidence satisfied the jury that the lessee and occupant of the distillery made sales of spirits produced by him which he omitted or neglected to enter in his books, with intent to defraud the government, or with intent to conceal from the officers the fact of such sales, then he would be guilty, and it would be their duty to find for the plaintiffs under the first article of the information; that the mere absence of that party from the State or the country was not of itself evidence upon which they could base a verdict, but if they found that he absconded and fled from justice when detected and charged with the frauds alleged against him in the case, that that fact might be considered by the jury, with other evidence, as tending to prove his fraudulent intents and guilt; that the information is a proceeding to condemn and forfeit to the United States certain property, both real and personal, for alleged offences against the revenue law; that the property in question...

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163 practice notes
  • McKeehan v. United States, No. 20328.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • February 19, 1971
    ...(1926); Goldsmith Jr.-Grant Co. v. United States, 254 U.S. 505, 41 S.Ct. 189, 65 L.Ed. 376 (1921); Dobbin's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1877); Henderson's Distilled Spirits, 14 Wallace (81 U.S.) 44, 20 L.Ed. 815 (1871); Palmyra, 12 Wheat. (25 U.S.) 1, 6 L.Ed. 531......
  • United States v. Parcel of Land, Buildings Appurtenances and Improvements, Known As 92 Buena Vista Avenue, Rumson New Jersey, No. 91-781
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 24, 1993
    ...the opinion that the claimant was ignorant of the fraudulent acts or omissions of the distiller." Dobbins's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 403-404, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1878). 15. "Thus stolen property—the fruits of crime —was always subject to seizure. And the power to search for stole......
  • Bennis v. Michigan, 948729
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1996
    ...wanton wrongs." Harmony v. United States, 2 How. 210, 234, 11 L.Ed. 239 (1844) (emphasis added). In Dobbins's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 401, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1878), this Court upheld the forfeiture of property used by a lessee in fraudulently avoiding federal alcohol taxes, obs......
  • U.S. v. Bajakajian, 961487
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1998
    ...16 (citing, inter alia, The Palmyra, 12 Wheat. 1, 13, 6 L.Ed. 531 (1827) (forfeiture of ship); Dobbins's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 400-401, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1877) (forfeiture of distillery)). In so doing, the Government relies upon a series of cases involving traditional civil ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
163 cases
  • McKeehan v. United States, No. 20328.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • February 19, 1971
    ...(1926); Goldsmith Jr.-Grant Co. v. United States, 254 U.S. 505, 41 S.Ct. 189, 65 L.Ed. 376 (1921); Dobbin's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1877); Henderson's Distilled Spirits, 14 Wallace (81 U.S.) 44, 20 L.Ed. 815 (1871); Palmyra, 12 Wheat. (25 U.S.) 1, 6 L.Ed. 531......
  • United States v. Parcel of Land, Buildings Appurtenances and Improvements, Known As 92 Buena Vista Avenue, Rumson New Jersey, No. 91-781
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 24, 1993
    ...the opinion that the claimant was ignorant of the fraudulent acts or omissions of the distiller." Dobbins's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 403-404, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1878). 15. "Thus stolen property—the fruits of crime —was always subject to seizure. And the power to search for stole......
  • Bennis v. Michigan, 948729
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1996
    ...wanton wrongs." Harmony v. United States, 2 How. 210, 234, 11 L.Ed. 239 (1844) (emphasis added). In Dobbins's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 401, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1878), this Court upheld the forfeiture of property used by a lessee in fraudulently avoiding federal alcohol taxes, obs......
  • U.S. v. Bajakajian, 961487
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1998
    ...16 (citing, inter alia, The Palmyra, 12 Wheat. 1, 13, 6 L.Ed. 531 (1827) (forfeiture of ship); Dobbins's Distillery v. United States, 96 U.S. 395, 400-401, 24 L.Ed. 637 (1877) (forfeiture of distillery)). In so doing, the Government relies upon a series of cases involving traditional civil ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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