In re Chapman

Decision Date19 April 1897
Docket NumberNo. 11,11
Citation166 U.S. 661,17 S.Ct. 677,41 L.Ed. 1154
PartiesIn re CHAPMAN
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

The petition alleges as follows: That petitioner is a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the city of New York, in the state of New York, and that he is now restrained of his liberty by the marshal of the United States for the District of Columbia. That on the 1st of October, 1894, in the supreme court of the District of Columbia, holding a criminal term, the grand jury impaneled in said court at said term thereof found an indictment against petitioner, based on section 102 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, to which petitioner filed a demurrer, alleging, among other objections, the unconstitutionality of the acts of congress on which the indictment was based; that the demurrer was overruled, and petitioner ordered to plead thereto; that the court of appeals for the District of Columbia allowed an appeal from the order overruling the demurrer, and subsequently affirmed it (Chapman v. U. S., 5 D. C. App. 122), whereupon petitioner applied to this court for leave to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which application was denied. In re Chapman, 156 U. S. 211, 15 Sup. Ct. 331. That thereafter petitioner filed a petition in the court of appeals for a writ of prohibition to prevent the trial court from unlawfully assuming jurisdiction to try petitioner on said indictment, which petition was denied; and thereupon petitioner duly prosecuted an appeal and writ of error to this court from such order denying said petition, which are still pending, this court having refused to advance the cause, and having also declined to stay the proceedings below. That thereupon the trial of petitioner under the indictment was proceeded with, and verdict of guilty returned. Motions in arrest of judgment and for new trial were made and overruled; and on February 1, 1896, the trial court entered its judgment and sentence on said verdict, that petitioner be imprisoned in the jail of the District of Columbia for the period of one month from date of arrival, and to pay a fine of $100, from which judgment and sentence petitioner prosecuted an appeal to the court of appeals. peals. That court affirmed the judgment and sentence of the trial court (Chapman v. U. S., 24 Wash. Law Rep. 251), but allowed a writ of error to remove the cause to this court for review (24 Wash. Law Rep. 297), which was dismissed for want of jurisdiction (Chapman v. U. S., 164 U. S. 436, 17 Sup. Ct. 76).

That petitioner was then surrendered in open court by his bondsmen, and committed into the custody of the United States marshal for the District, who now holds and confines him, and deprives him of his liberty.

The petition further alleged that the act of congress under which petitioner was prosecuted was unconstitutional, and the imprisonment of petitioner unlawful, on various grounds set forth at length.

Petitioner attached duly-certified copies of the record and proceedings, judgment, and sentence, under the aforesaid in- dictment against him, and prayed that the same be considered in connection with the petition, and also referred to the record in the matter of the application of petitioner for a writ of prohibition.

The indictment averred that the house of representatives had passed a certain tariff bill, which was pending in the senate, with a very large number of proposed amendments thereto, during the months thereafter mentioned, and, among them, certain amendments providing for duties on sugar different from the provisions of the bill as it had been sent to the senate, the adoption or rejection of which by the senate would materially affact the market value of the stock of the American Sugar-Refining Company; that the scnate adopted a preamble and resolutions raising a special committee, and clothing it with full power of investigation into certain charges made in designated newspapers that members of the senate were yielding to corrupt influences in the consideration of said legislation; that the investigation was commenced, and, in the course of it, petitioner, being a member of a firm of stockbrokers in the city of New York, dealing in the stock of the American Sugar-Refining Company, appeared as a witness, and was asked whether the firm of which the witness was a member had brought or sold what were known as 'sugar stocks' during the month of February, 1894, and after the 1st day of that month, for or in the interest, directly or indirectly, of any United States senator; had the firm, during the month of March, 1894, bought or sold any stocks or securities known as 'sugar stocks' for or in the interest, directly or indirectly, or any United States senator; had the said firm during the month of April done so; had the said firm during the month of May done so; was the said firm at that time carrying any sugar stock for the benefit of or in the interest, directly or indirectly, of any United States senator. But petitioner then and there willfully refused to answer each of the questions so propounded, all of which were pertinent to the inquiry then and there being made by the said committee under the resolutions aforesaid.

George F. Edmunds and A. J. Dittenhoefer, for petitioner.

Sol. Gen. Conrad, for respondent.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

It is insisted that the supreme court of the District of Columbia, sitting as a criminal court, had no jurisdiction; that the questions were not authorized under the constitution; and that the act of congress under which petitioner was indicted and tried is unconstitutional.

Sections 102, 103, and 104 and section 859 of the Revised Statutes are as follows:

'Sec. 102. Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either house of congress, to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either house, or any committee of either house of congress, wilfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars nor less than one hundred dollars, and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.

'Sec. 103. No witness is privileged to refuse to testify to any fact, or to produce any paper, respecting which he shall be examined by either house of congress, or by any committee of either house, upon the ground that his testimony to such fact or his production of such paper may tend to disgrace him or otherwise render him infamous.

'Sec. 104. Whenever a witness summoned as mentioned in section one hundred and two fails to testify, and the facts are reported to either house, the president of the senate or the speaker of the house, as the case may be, shall certify the fact under the seal of the senate or house to the district attorney for the District of Columbia, whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for their action.'

'Sec. 859. No testimony given by a witness before either house, or before any committee of either house of congress, shall be used as evidence in any criminal proceeding against him in any court, except in a prosecution for perjury committed in giving such testimony. But an official paper or record produced by him is not within the said privilege.'

These sections were derived from an act of January 24, 1857, entitled 'An act more effectually to enforce the attendance of witnesses on the summons of either house of congress, and to compel them to discover testimony' (11 Stat 155, c. 19),1 as amended by an act entitled 'An act amending the provi- sions of the second section of the act of January twenty-fourth, eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, enforcing the attendance of witnesses before committees of either house of congress,' approved January 24, 1862 (12 Stat. 333, c. 11),2 both of which are given in the margin.

From the record of the proceedings on the trial, accompanying and made part of the petition, it appears that petitioner, in declining to answer the questions propounded, expressly stated that he did not do so on the ground that to answer might expose him, or tend to expose him, to criminal prosecution; nor did he object that his answers might tend to disgrace him. Section 103 had in fact no bearing on the controversy in regard to this witness, and it is difficult to see how he can properly raise the question as to its constitutionality, notwithstanding section 859. And we cannot concur in the view that sections 102 and 103 are so inseparably connected that it can be reasonably concluded that, if section 103 were not sustainable, section 102 would therefore be invalid. In other words, we do not think that there is ground for the belief that congress would not have enacted section 102 if it had been supposed that a particular class of witnesses, to which petitioner did not belong, if they refused to answer by reason of constitutional privilege, could not be deprived of that privilege by section 103.

Laying section 103 out of view, we are of opinion that sections 102 and 104 were intended, in the language of the title of the original act of January 24, 1857, 'more effectually to enforce the attendance of witnesses on the summons of either house of congress, and to sompel them to discover testimony.' To secure this result, it was provided that when a person summoned as a witness by either house to give testimony or produce papers, upon any matter under inquiry before either house, or any committee of either house, willfully fails to appear, or, appearing, refuses to answer 'any question pertinent to the question under inquiry,' he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and punished accordingly. And it was also provided that when, under such circumstances, the facts are reported to either house, the president of the senate...

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