James Donnelly v. United States, No. 97

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPitney
Citation33 S.Ct. 449,57 L.Ed. 820,228 U.S. 243
PartiesJAMES DONNELLY, Piff. in Err., v. UNITED STATES
Decision Date07 April 1913
Docket NumberNo. 97

228 U.S. 243
33 S.Ct. 449
57 L.Ed. 820
JAMES DONNELLY, Piff. in Err.,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 97.
Argued December 18, 1912.
Decided April 7, 1913.

[Syllabus from pages 243-245 intentionally omitted]

Page 245

Messrs. John F. Quinn and W. F. Clyborne for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 245-248 intentionally omitted]

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Assistant Attorney General Denison for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 248-252 intentionally omitted]

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Mr. Justice Pitney delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff in error was convicted in the circuit court of the United States for the northern district of California, upon an indictment for murder; and, having been sentenced to life imprisonment, sues out this writ of error. The indictment charged him with the murder of one Chickasaw, an Indian, within the limits of an Indian reservation known as the Extension of the Hoopa Valley Reservation, in the county of Humboldt, in the state and northern district of California. The evidence tended to show that Chickasaw, who was an Indian and a member of the Klamath Tribe, was shot through the body and mortally wounded while he was in or near the edge of the water of the Klamath river, at a place within the exterior limits of the Extension.

The trial proceeded upon the theory that the crime was committed within the river bed and below ordinary high-water mark, a theory favorable to the plaintiff in error, in that it furnishes the basis for one of the principal contentions made in his behalf. The indictment does not allege, nor did the government undertake to prove, that plaintiff in error was of Indian blood; there was evidence tending to show that he was a white man; and the trial judge instructed the jury in effect that this question was immaterial. It was contended that the circuit court was without jurisdiction, first, because the place of the commission of the alleged offense was not within the limits of the Extension, of the Hoopa Valley Reservation, but was upon the Klamath river, and therefore outside of those limits; and, secondly, because it did not appear that the defendant was an Indian. These contentions, having been overruled below, are renewed here, and some other

Page 253

jurisdictional questions are raised. In addition, it is contended that the circuit court erred in refusing to permit the plaintiff in error to introduce evidence tending to show that one Joe Dick, a deceased Indian, had confessed just before his death that it was he who had shot and killed the Indian Chickasaw.

The bounds of the Hoopa Valley Reservation were first established by executive order of President Grant, dated June 23, 1876, made under authority of 'An Act to Provide for the Better Organization of Indian Affairs in California,' approved April 8, 1864 (13 Stat. at L. 39, chap. 48). The reservation, as thus delimited, comprised a tract of country in Humboldt county, about 89,000 acres in extent, lying on both sides of the Trinity river, above its junction with the Klamath. Exce. Ord. Ind. Reserv. 1912 ed. p. 38; 1 Kappler, 815.

What is known as the Extension of the Hoopa Valley Reservation was made by executive order of President Harrison, dated October 16, 1891, and included 'a tract of country 1 mile in width on each side of the Klamath river, and extending from the present limits of the said Hoopa Valley Reservation to the Pacific ocean,' with a proviso to be mentioned hereafter. Exec. Ord. Ind. Reserv. 1912 ed. p. 39; 1 Kappler, 815. The extension as thus described took in the original Klamath River Reservation (established by President Pierce in 1855; Ex. Ord. Ind. Reserv. 1912, p. 41), that extended along the river for a distance of 20 miles from the ocean. This portion was, by act of June 17, 1892 (27 Stat. at L. 52, chap. 120), opened to settlement, entry, and purchase. The locus in quo is not within the part thus opened, but is at a point higher up the river.

The indictment and conviction are based upon § 2145, Rev. Stat., providing that certain general laws of the United States as to the punishment of crimes committed in any place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of

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the United States, except the District of Columbia, 'shall extend to the Indian country,' and upon § 5339, Rev. Stat. (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3627), which enacts that any person who commits murder in any place under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States shall suffer death. These sections, together with § 2146, Rev. Stat., and § 9 of an act of March 3, 1885 (23 Stat. at L. 385, chap. 341), being all pertinent to the discussion that follows, are set forth in the margin.2

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The record presents the following questions, and it will be assumed that, in view of the course taken at the trial, they must all be answered favorably to the government in order that the conviction may be sustained.

(1) Was the Extension of the Hoopa Valley Reservation lawfully established?

(2) Does it include the bed of the Klamath river?

(3) Is the place of the homicide, for particular reasons to be mentioned, not a part of the reservation?

(4) Is the Extension (if lawfully established) 'Indian country' within the meaning of § 2145, rev. Stat?

(5) Is the Killing of an Indian by one who is not of Indian blood, when committed upon an Indian reservation within the state of California, punishable in the Federal courts?

(6) Was the evidence offered to show an alleged confession by Joe Dick properly excluded?

1. It is contended in behalf of the plaintiff in error that the authority conferred upon the Executive by Congress in the act of April 8, 1864 (13 Stat. at L. 39, chap. 48), was exhausted in the creation by President Grant of the Hoopa Valley Reservation in 1876. Section 2 of that act provides as follows:

'Sec. 2. And be it further enacted. That there shall be set apart by the President, and at his discretion, not exceeding four tracts of land, within the limits of said state, to be retained by the United States for the purposes of Indian Reservations, which shall be of suitable extent for the accommodation of the Indians of said state, and shall be located as remote from white settlements as may be found practicable, having due regard to their adaptation to the purposes for which they are intended; Provided, That at least one of said tracts shall be located

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in what has heretofore been known as the northern district; . . . and Provided, further, That said tracts to be set apart as aforesaid may, or may not, as in the discretion of the President may be deemed for the best interests of the Indians to be provided for, include any of the Indian Reservations heretofore set apart in said state, and that in case any such reservation is so included, the same may be enlarged to such an extent as, in the opinion of the President, may be necessary, in order to its complete adaptation to the purposes for which it is intended.'

The terms of this enactment show that Congress intended to confer a discretionary power, and from an early period Congress has customarily accorded to the Executive a large discretion about setting apart and reserving portions of the public domain in aid of particular public purposes. Wolcott v. Des Moines Nav. & R. Co. 5 Wall. 681, 688, 18 L. ed. 689, 691; Grisar v. McDowell, 6 Wall. 363, 381, 18 L. ed. 863, 868; Re Wilson, 140 U. S. 575, 577, 35 L. ed. 513, 514, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 870; Spalding v. Chandler, 160 U. S. 394, 404, 40 L. ed. 469, 473, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 360. See also United States v. Leathers, 6 Sawy. 17, 21, Fed. Cas. No. 15,581; United States v. Martin, 8 Sawy. 473, 14 Fed. 817, 821; McFadden v. Mountain View Min. & Mill. Co. 38 C. C. A. 354, 97 Fed. 670, 673; Gibson v. Anderson, 65 C. C. A. 277, 131 Fed. 39, 41; United States v. Grand Rapids & I. R. Co. 154 Fed. 131, 135; 17 Ops.-Atty. Gen. 258; Act of February 8, 1887 (24 Stat. at L. 388, chap. 119), referred to in Re Wilson, 140 U. S. 575, 35 L. ed. 513, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 870.

We have made a somewhat exhaustive examination of the history of the Indian reservations of California, and what has been done by the executive and legislative departments of the Federal government respecting them, and as a result we are convinced, first, that the situation of Indian affairs in that state in the year 1864 was such that Congress could not reasonably have supposed that the President would be able to accomplish the beneficent purposes of the enactment if he were obliged to act, once for all, with respect to the establishment of the several new reservations that were provided for, and were left

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powerless to alter and enlarge the reservations from time to time, in the light of experience. To mention but one obstacle that must have been within the contemplation of Congress: the Klamath and Hoopa or Trinity Indians were at war with the forces of the United States at the time of the passage of the act of 1864, and had been so for some years. Indian Report, 1864, pp. 123, 127, 130, 133-138. Secondly, beginning shortly after its passage, and continuing for a period of at least thirty years thereafter, Congress and the Executive practically construed the act of 1864 as conferring a continuing authority upon the latter, and a large discretion about exercising it.

Congress itself recognized the Hoopa Valley Reservation as lawfully existing, at least as early as July 27, 1868 (15 Stat. at L. 221, chap. 248), when it appropriated money 'to pay the settlers of Hoopa Valley for their personal property left upon the Hoopa Valley Reservation at the time the government took possession;' and also 'for removing the Indians from Smith's River Reservation to Hoopa Valley and Round Valley Reservations . . . and the Smith River Reservation is hereby discontinued;' and again, in the following year (act of April 10, 1869, 16 Stat. at L. 37, chap. 16), when it appropriated money for the pay of a...

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361 practice notes
  • Borax Consolidated v. City of Los Angeles, No. 34
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 11, 1935
    ...548, 38 L.Ed. 331; Mobile Transportation Company v. Mobile, 187 U.S. 479, 490, 23 S.Ct. 170, 47 L.Ed. 266; Donnelly v. United States, 228 U.S. 243, 260, 261, 33 S.Ct. 449, 57 L.Ed. 820, Ann.Cas. 1913E, 710. 2. As to the land in suit, petitioners contend that the General Land Office had auth......
  • United States v. Zepeda, No. 10-10131
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 18, 2013
    ...federal statutes to determine whether a railroad right-of-way remained within the Crow Indian Reservation); Donnelly v. United States, 228 U.S. 243, 259-69 (1913) (surveying a wide range of executive orders and legislative enactments to determine whether the bed of the Klamath River was wit......
  • Langley v. Ryder, Civ. A. No. 85-0030.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
    • March 15, 1985
    ...purposes of federal criminal jurisdiction, they were also defining the limits on state jurisdiction. See, e.g., Donnelly v. United States, 228 U.S. 243, 33 S.Ct. 449, 458-59, 57 L.Ed. 820 (1913). Moreover, use of the section 1151 definition has not been restricted to questions concerning ju......
  • State ex rel. Rice v. Stewart, 33292
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • January 2, 1939
    ...does not show that it is navigable under the laws of this state. Archer v. Gravel Co., 233 U.S. 60, 34 S.Ct. 567; Donnelly v. U.S. 228 U.S. 243, 33 S.Ct. 449; Code 1930, sections 1378, 6462 and 6463. The former suit is res judicata of all issues involved herein, and by prosecuting the forme......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
362 cases
  • Borax Consolidated v. City of Los Angeles, No. 34
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 11, 1935
    ...548, 38 L.Ed. 331; Mobile Transportation Company v. Mobile, 187 U.S. 479, 490, 23 S.Ct. 170, 47 L.Ed. 266; Donnelly v. United States, 228 U.S. 243, 260, 261, 33 S.Ct. 449, 57 L.Ed. 820, Ann.Cas. 1913E, 710. 2. As to the land in suit, petitioners contend that the General Land Office had auth......
  • United States v. Zepeda, No. 10-10131
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 18, 2013
    ...federal statutes to determine whether a railroad right-of-way remained within the Crow Indian Reservation); Donnelly v. United States, 228 U.S. 243, 259-69 (1913) (surveying a wide range of executive orders and legislative enactments to determine whether the bed of the Klamath River was wit......
  • Langley v. Ryder, Civ. A. No. 85-0030.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
    • March 15, 1985
    ...purposes of federal criminal jurisdiction, they were also defining the limits on state jurisdiction. See, e.g., Donnelly v. United States, 228 U.S. 243, 33 S.Ct. 449, 458-59, 57 L.Ed. 820 (1913). Moreover, use of the section 1151 definition has not been restricted to questions concerning ju......
  • State ex rel. Rice v. Stewart, 33292
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • January 2, 1939
    ...does not show that it is navigable under the laws of this state. Archer v. Gravel Co., 233 U.S. 60, 34 S.Ct. 567; Donnelly v. U.S. 228 U.S. 243, 33 S.Ct. 449; Code 1930, sections 1378, 6462 and 6463. The former suit is res judicata of all issues involved herein, and by prosecuting the forme......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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