Hebert v. State of Louisiana

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation48 A. L. R. 1102,47 S.Ct. 103,71 L.Ed. 270,272 U.S. 312
Docket NumberNo. 24,24
Decision Date01 November 1926

272 U.S. 312
47 S.Ct. 103
71 L.Ed. 270
HEBERT et al.



No. 24.
Submitted Oct. 13, 1926.
Decided Nov. 1, 1926.

Page 313

Mr. A. R. Mitchell, of Lake Charles, La., for plaintiffs in error.

Messrs. Percy Saint and E. R. Schowalter, both of New Orleans, La., and John J. Robira, of Lake Charles, La., for the State of Louisiana.

Mr. Justice VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The state of Louisiana, like the United States, has a statute making it a criminal offense to manufacture intoxicating liquor for beverage purposes. A judgment of the Supreme Court of the state, affirming a conviction under this statute (158 La. 209, 103 So. 742), is presented for review by this writ of error. The writ was sued out before the Act of February 13, 1925, c. 229, 43 Stat. 936, and falls within the saving clause in the last section.

When the accusation was preferred in the state court, and when the accused were arrested thereon, they already were under indictment in the federal District Court for the same acts as an offense against the federal statute and were on bail awaiting trial in that court. When taken before the state court they interposed a plea, first, that it was without authority to entertain the accusation, because the acts charged constituted an offense against the United States of which the federal District Court was

Page 314

given exclusive jurisdiction by section 256 of the federal Judicial Code (Comp. St. § 1233); and, second, that, even if the accusation could be entertained, their arrest under state process while they were on bail awaiting trial in the federal District Court was in derogation of the authority of the latter, and therefore did not give jurisdiction of their persons. The plea was overruled, and this is assigned as error.

We think the ruling was right. The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution contemplates that the manufacture of intoxicating liquor for beverage purposes may be denounced as a criminal offense both by the federal law and by the state law, and that these laws may not only coexist, but be given full operation, each independently of the other. Where such manufacture is thus doubly denounced, one who engages therein commits two distinct offenses, one against the United States and one against the state, and may be subjected to prosecution and punishment in the federal courts for one, and in the state courts for the other, without any infraction of the constitutional rule against double jeopardy; it being limited to repeated prosecutions 'for the same offense.' United States v. Lanza, 260 U. S. 377, 43 S. Ct. 141, 67 L. Ed. 314.

The provision in section 256 of the federal Judicial Code has no bearing on the authority of a state court to entertain an accusation for an offense against the state law. That provision relates to offenses 'cognizable under the authority of the United States.' Only offenses against the laws of the United States are cognizable under its authority. Those against state laws are cognizable only under the authority of the state. And this is true where the same act is an offense against both a law of the United States and a law of the state.

An argument is advanced to the effect that the state, in denouncing the manufacture of intoxicating liquor for beverage purposes as a criminal offense, and in taking proceedings to punish the offenders, is exerting a power

Page 315

derived from the Eighteenth Amendment, and therefore that all that is done by the state in that regard must be taken as done under the authority of the United States. The same argument was advanced in United...

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    ...forth in the majority opinion, one of these three was subsequently replaced with respect to appellant Burns. 60 Hebert v. Louisiana, 1926, 272 U.S. 312, 316, 47 S.Ct. 103, 71 L.Ed. 61 McNabb v. United States, 1943, 318 U. S. 332, 344, 63 S.Ct. 608, 614, 87 L.Ed. 819. 62 Transcript of H. Den......
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