Ex parte Coy et al

Citation127 U.S. 731,32 L.Ed. 274,8 S.Ct. 1263
PartiesEx parte COY et al
Decision Date14 May 1888
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

D. W. Voorhees and Cyrus F. McNutt, for appellants.

Atty. Gen. Garland and E. B. Sellers, for appellee.

MILLER, J.

This is an appeal from the circuit court of the United States for the district of Indiana. The case in that court arose upon an application for a writ of habeas corpus made on behalf of Simeon Coy and William F. A. Bernhamer, whose petition alleged that they were restrained of their liberty and detained in the custody of Edward Hawkins, the marshal of the United States for the district of Indiana, and Isaac King, sheriff of Marion county in that state, who claimed to hold the prisoners under the authority of a judgment of the United States district court. The petition sets forth the nature of the proceedings by which they were indicted and tried in that court, wherein they were found guilty of the charges specified in the indictment. The sentence of the court was 'that the said William F. A. Bernhamer make his fine to the United States in the sum of one thousand dollars, and that he be imprisoned in the state prison north (of said state) for the period of one year; and that the said Simeon Coy make his fine to the United States in the sum of one hundred dollars, and that he be imprisoned in the said state prison for the period of eighteen months.' The prisoners were thereupon committed to the charge of the marshal, in whose custody they were at the time when this petition was filed. The petitioners also presented a copy of the indictment, attached to their petition, which they say charges no offense against the United States, and that the federal district court and the grand jury thereof had no jurisdiction in the premises. They allege that the action of said grand jury in returning the indictment, and of the court and the marshal thereof in taking them into custody and restraining them of their liberty under and by virtue of the judgment, order, and commitment of said court, are wholly void, and the imprisonment of the petitioners unlawful. To this petition praying for a writ of habeas corpus a demurrer was filed by the attorney of the United States for said district on behalf of the marshal and the sheriff. Upon the hearing of that demurrer it was sustained by the circuit court which refused to issue the writ as prayed in the petition. From this judgment the prisoners took an appeal to the supreme court, which was allowed, and the same has been very fully argued in this court, both on their behalf and on the part of the government.

The record presented to us is very simple, there being no other statement of the proceedings had upon the indictment than is contained in that instrument itself, and the judgment of the court upon the trial. As the circuit court refused to grant the writ of habeas corpus, there is no return by the marshal and the sheriff so that we have none of the facts or evidence in the case except as they are detailed in the indictment. The only question raised by the petitioners, supported by several points in regard to the statutes applicable thereto, is that the district court which tried the indictment had no jurisdiction. This proposition is founded, not upon any want of jurisdiction of the person, but upon the broad statement that the indictment presents no crime or offense under the laws of the United States.

The indictment itself is of considerable length, although consisting of but one count. It reads as follows: 'The grand jurors of the United States, within and for the district of Indiana, impaneled, sworn, and charged in said court, at the term aforesaid, to inquire for the United States, within and for the district of Indiana aforesaid, upon their oath present that Simeon Coy, Henry Spaan, John H. Councilman, Charles N. Metcalf, John E. Sullivan, Albert T. Beck, George W. Budd, Stephen Mattler, William F. A. Bernhamer and John L. Reardon, late of said district, at the district aforesaid, on the 3d day of November, in the year of our Lord 1886, unlawfully, knowingly, and feloniously did then and there conspire, confederate, and combine and agree together, and with one Samuel E. Perkins, to commit an offense against the United States in this, to-wit. The grand jurors aforesaid, impaneled and sworn as aforesaid, do charge and present that on the 2d day of November, in the year of our Lord 1886, an election for a representative in the congress of the United States from the Seventh congressional district of the state of Indiana was lawfully had and held in and for said Seventh congressional district of Indiana; that the county of Marion in said state, and the city of Indianapolis, situated in said county are and on said 2d day of November, in the year of our Lord 1886, were, in and constituted parts of said congressional district, and that at said election for representative in congress so held in said district and in said county and city, a representative in congress was lawfully voted for at each and every voting precinct of said district and of said county and city, including the precincts hereafter particularly named; that at said election one Allen Hisey served and was the lawful inspector of the election at and for the Second precinct of the Thirteenth ward of said city of Indianapolis, and at said election said John H. Councilman served and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the Second precinct of the Fourth ward of said city of Indianapolis, and that at said election said Stephen Mattler served as and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the Third precinct of the Thirteenth ward of said city of Indianapolis, and that at said election one Lorenz Schmidt served as and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the First precinct of the Twenty-Third ward of said city of Indianapolis, and one Joel A. Baker served as and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the Sixth precinct of Center township in said county of Marion, and one Joseph Becker served as and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the Second precinct of the Eleventh ward of the city of Indianapolis aforesaid, and one Andrew Oehler served as and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the First precinct of the Seventeenth ward of said city of Indianapolis, and one John Edwards served as and was the lawful inspector of election at and for the Second precinct of the Eighteenth ward of said city of Indianapolis. That at and after the close of the election aforesaid, and until delivery was made to the clerk of said county and to the board of canvassers of said county, each of said inspectors had in his lawful possession the ballots, tally-papers, poll-lists, and certificate of the board of judges of election of and for the precinct of which he was and had been inspector as aforesaid; said ballots, poll-lists, tally-papers, andc ertificates each contained evidence in respect to said election of representative in congress; and said grand jurors aforesaid do charge and present that at said district, on said 3d day of November, in the year of our Lord 1886, said defendants, Simeon Coy, Henry Spaan, John H. Councilman, Charles N. Metcalf, John E. Sullivan, Albert T. Beck, George W. Budd, Stephen Mattler, William F. A. Bernhamer, and John L. Reardon, intending to obtain unlawful possession of said papers and election returns so in the custody of said inspectors, and feloniously to mutilate, alther, forge, and change the said poll-lists, tally-papers, and certificates of the judges of election, did unlawfully and feloniously conspire, confederate, combine, and agree together, and with said Samuel E. Perkins, unlawfully and by false and deceitful speeches, statements, assertions, and promises, and by other unlawful means to the grand jurors unknown, to counsel, assist, aid, procure, and induce said Allen Hisey, Lorenz Schmidt, John H. Councilman, Stephen Mattler, Joel H. Baker, Joseph Becker, Andrew Oehler, and John Edwards, inspectors as aforesaid, and each of them, unlawfully to omit, neglect, fail, and refuse to perform the duties imposed by the laws of the state of Indiana upon them, and each of them, safely to guard, keep, and preserve from harm and danger the papers, poll-lists, tally-papers, and certificates of the judges of election so deposited with them, the said inspectors, and each of them respectively, until lawfully delivered to the board of canvassers of said county of Marion, and to the clerk of said county, and that to effect the object of said conspiracy the said Samuel E. Perkins unlawfully advised, persuaded, and procured the said Allen Hisey, inspector as aforesaid, unlawfully and negligently to deliver to him, the said Samuel E. Perkins, the poll-lists, tally-papers, and certificates of the judges of election deposited with him, the said Allen Hisey, for return to the board of canvassers of said county, before the same had been returned to the said board of canvassers; and said Samuel E. Perkins and Simeon Coy unlawfully persuaded, advised, and procured the said Stephen Mattler unlawfully and negligently to deliver, and he, the said Stephen Mattler, consented to and did then and there unlawfully and negligently deliver to said Perkins and Coy the poll-lists, tally-papers, and certificate of the board of judges of election deposited with him, the said Stephen Mattler, for return to the board of canvassers of said county, before the same had been returned to and canvassed by said board of canvassers; and the said John E. Sullivan and George W. Budd unlawfully received and took from Lorenz Schmidt the poll-list, tally-paper, and certificate of the board of judges of election deposited with said Lorenz Schmidt as aforesaid for return to the board of canvassers aforesaid; and the said John H. Councilman negligently and in disregard of his duty parted with and surrendered to a person or persons to the grand jurors unknown, the poll-list, tally-paper, and...

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