Ex parte Wilson

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBREWER
Citation35 L.Ed. 513,140 U.S. 575,11 S.Ct. 870
Decision Date25 May 1891
PartiesEx parte WILSON

140 U.S. 575
11 S.Ct. 870
35 L.Ed. 513
Ex parte WILSON.
May 25, 1891.

J. Altheus Johnson, for petitioner.

Sol. Gen. Taft, for respondent.

BREWER, J.

On June 12, 1890, the petitioner was by the district court of the second judicial district of the territory of Arizona sentenced to be hung. He has sued out this habeas corpus to test the validity of such sentence. He does not come here by writ of error to review the proceedings, so that errors therein may be corrected, but attacks them in this way collaterally, as void. His attack is rested on two propositions. The proceedings had were in a territorial court, sitting as a court of the United Staes. The first claim is that the court did not have jurisdiction of the offense charged. The indictment

Page 576

charges the crime of murder committed upon one William Fleming, within the White Mountain Indian Reservation, in the second judicial district of the territory of Arizona. The petition alleges that the petitioner is a citizen of the United States of African descent; that William Fleming, the person killed, was also a negro; that the second judicial district of Arizona is composed of four counties, one of them being the county of Gila; and that the White Mountain Indian Reservation is within said county of Gila. The reservation, therefore, is within the territorial limits of the second judicial district, but the contention is that the district court of that district, sitting as a United States court, did not have jurisdiction, but that it was vested alone in the district court sitting as a territorial court; and that the indictment should have run in the name of the people of the territory, instead of in the name of the United States of America. The second contention is that the grand jury which indicted him was not a legally constituted tribunal, in that it was composed of only 15 persons. In this respect it is admitted that by the laws of the territory of Arizona, in force until March 22, 1889, grand juries were to be composed of not less than 13 nor more than 15 members, (Rev. St. Ariz. p. 384, § 2164,) but it is claimed that on that day a law came into force by which the number of members of a grand jury was increased, and required to be not less than 17 nor more than 23. Upon these two propositions the petitioner denies the validity of the sentence against him, and asks that he be discharged from custody.

With respect to the first question, it may be observed that the White Mountain Indian Reservation was a legally constituted Indian reservation. True, when the territory of Arizona was organized, on February 24, 1863, (12 St. 664,) there was no such reservation; and it was created in the first instance by order of the president in 1871. Whatever doubts there might have been, if any, as to the validity of such executive order, are put at rest by the act of congress of February 8, 1887, (24 St. 388,) the first clause of which is 'that in all cases where any tribe or band of Indians has been,

Page 577

or shall hereafter be, located upon any reservation created for their use, either by treaty stipulations or by virtue of an act of congress or executive order setting apart the same for their use, the president of the United States be, and he hereby is, authorized, whenever in his opinion any reservation, or any part thereof, of such Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservation in severalty to any Indian located thereon, in quantities as follows.' The necessary effect of this legislative recognition was to confirm the executive order, and establish beyond challenge the Indian title to this reservation. Indeed, the fact that this is an Indian reservation is not contested by the petitioner, but rather assumed by him in his argument. His proposition is that 'congress, by act approved March 3, 1885, (23 St. 385,) conferred upon the territory and her courts full jurisdiction of the offense of murder when committed on an Indian reservation by an Indian. Ex Parte Gon-sha-yee, 130 U. S. 343, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 542. This offense had heretofore, when committed in such place by others than an Indian, been cognizable by the courts of the United States under section 2145, Rev. St. The petitioner believes that the United States, by yielding up a part of her jurisdiction over the offense of murder when committed on an Indian reservation, lost all,—that is, that her jurisdiction of the offense in the particular place must be 'sole and exclusive,' or will not exist at all; that it cannot be that there shall be one law and one moe o f trial for a murder in a particular place if committed by an Indian, and another law and mode of trial for the identical offense in the same place committed by a white man or a negro.' We are unable to yield our assent to this argument. The question is one of statutory construction. The jurisdiction of the United States over these reservations, and the power of congress to provide for the punishment of all offenses committed therein, by whomsoever committed, are not open questions. U. S. v. Kagama, 118 U. S. 375, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1109. And this power being a general one, congress may provide for the punishment of one

Page 578

class of offenses in one court, and another class in a different court. There is no necessity for, and no constitutional provision compelling, full and exclusive jurisdiction in one tribunal, and the policy of congress for a long time has been to give only a limited jurisdiction to the United States courts. Section 2145 extends to the Indian country the general laws of the United States as to the punishment of crimes committed in any place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, except as to crimes the punishment of which is otherwise expressly provided for. This Indian reservation is a part of the Indian country within the meaning of that section. Bates v. Clark, 95 U. S. 204; Ex parte Crow Dog, 109 U. S. 556, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. 396. But this extension of the criminal laws of the United States over the Indian country is limited by the section immediately succeeding, (section 2146,) as follows: 'The preceding section shall not be construed to extend to crimes committed by one Indian against the person or property of another Indian, nor to any Indian committing any offense in the Indian country who has been punished by the local law of the tribe, or to any case where, by treaty stipulations, the exclusive jurisdiction over such offenses is or may be secured to the Indian tribes respectively.' So that before the act of 1885 the jurisdiction of the United States courts was not sole and exclusive over all offenses committed within the limits of an Indian reservation. The words 'sole and exclusive,' in section 2145 do not apply to the jurisdiction extended over the Indian country, but are only used in the description of the laws which are extended to it. The effect of the act of 1885 was not to transfer to territorial courts a part of the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of United States courts, but only a part of the limited jurisdiction then exercised by such courts, together with jurisdiction over...

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64 practice notes
  • Nethery v. Collins, No. 92-1742
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 11, 1993
    ...604 S.W.2d 152 (Tex.Crim.App.1980) (holding nine grand jurors constitute a quorum for returning indictments); see also In re Wilson, 140 U.S. 575, 11 S.Ct. 870, 35 L.Ed. 513 (1891) (no jurisdictional defect where sufficient number of grand jurors voted to indict notwithstanding fact that an......
  • State v. Rufus
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 12, 1931
    ...committed by Indians by the act of March 3, 1885 (23 Stat. 385, c. 341, § 9). For a construction of these statutes, see In re Wilson, 140 U. S. 575, 11 S. Ct. 870, 35 L. Ed. 513;In re Mayfield, 141 U. S. 107, 11 S. Ct. 939, 35 L. Ed. 635;Smith v. U. S., 151 U. S. 50, 14 S. Ct. 234, 38 L. Ed......
  • U.S. v. White, No. 74-1283
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 11, 1975
    ...places within the boundaries of a State . . . over which the Federal government has . . . exclusive jurisdiction. Again, In re Wilson, 140 U.S. 575, 578, 11 S.Ct. 870, 871, 35 L.Ed. 513 (1891), the Court The words 'sole and exclusive,' in (the precursor statute to 1152) . . . are only used ......
  • Davis v. United States 8212 6481, No. 71
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 17, 1973
    ...to object was held to constitute a waiver. See, e.g., United States v. Gale, 109 U.S. 65, 3 S.Ct. 1, 27 L.Ed. 857 (1883); In re Wilson, 140 U.S. 575, 11 S.Ct. 870, 35 L.Ed. 513 (1891). Cf. Kohl v. Lehlback, 160 U.S. 293, 16 S.Ct. 304, 40 L.Ed. 432 (1895). It is clear that in none of those c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
64 cases
  • Nethery v. Collins, No. 92-1742
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 11, 1993
    ...604 S.W.2d 152 (Tex.Crim.App.1980) (holding nine grand jurors constitute a quorum for returning indictments); see also In re Wilson, 140 U.S. 575, 11 S.Ct. 870, 35 L.Ed. 513 (1891) (no jurisdictional defect where sufficient number of grand jurors voted to indict notwithstanding fact that an......
  • State v. Rufus
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 12, 1931
    ...committed by Indians by the act of March 3, 1885 (23 Stat. 385, c. 341, § 9). For a construction of these statutes, see In re Wilson, 140 U. S. 575, 11 S. Ct. 870, 35 L. Ed. 513;In re Mayfield, 141 U. S. 107, 11 S. Ct. 939, 35 L. Ed. 635;Smith v. U. S., 151 U. S. 50, 14 S. Ct. 234, 38 L. Ed......
  • U.S. v. White, No. 74-1283
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 11, 1975
    ...places within the boundaries of a State . . . over which the Federal government has . . . exclusive jurisdiction. Again, In re Wilson, 140 U.S. 575, 578, 11 S.Ct. 870, 871, 35 L.Ed. 513 (1891), the Court The words 'sole and exclusive,' in (the precursor statute to 1152) . . . are only used ......
  • Davis v. United States 8212 6481, No. 71
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 17, 1973
    ...to object was held to constitute a waiver. See, e.g., United States v. Gale, 109 U.S. 65, 3 S.Ct. 1, 27 L.Ed. 857 (1883); In re Wilson, 140 U.S. 575, 11 S.Ct. 870, 35 L.Ed. 513 (1891). Cf. Kohl v. Lehlback, 160 U.S. 293, 16 S.Ct. 304, 40 L.Ed. 432 (1895). It is clear that in none of those c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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