John Rooney v. State of North Dakota, No. 123

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHarlan
Citation196 U.S. 319,49 L.Ed. 494,25 S.Ct. 264
PartiesJOHN ROONEY, Piff. in Err. , v. STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA
Decision Date23 January 1905
Docket NumberNo. 123

196 U.S. 319
25 S.Ct. 264
49 L.Ed. 494
JOHN ROONEY, Piff. in Err.,

v.

STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA.

No. 123.
Argued January 12, 1905.
Decided January 23, 1905.

This writ of error brings in question a final judgment of the supreme court of the state of North Dakota, affirming the

Page 320

judgment of an inferior court of that state, by which, pursuant to the verdict of a jury, the plaintiff in error, John Rooney, was sentenced to death for the crime of murder in the first degree.

The sole question upon which the plaintiff in error seeks the judgment of this court, and the only one that will be noticed, is whether the statute under which he was sentenced was ex post facto, and therefore unconstitutional in its application to his case. His counsel agrees that the judgment must stand if the statute be constitutional.

Before, as well as after, the passage of the statute under which the sentence was pronounced, the punishment prescribed by the state for murder in the first degree was death or imprisonment in the penitentiary for life. N. D. Rev. Codes, 1889, § 7068.

By the statutes in force at the time of the commission of the offense, August 26th, 1902, as well as when the verdict of guilty was rendered, it was provided that when a judgment of death is rendered the judge must deliver to the sheriff of the county a warrant stating the conviction and judgment, and appointing a day on which the judgment is to be executed, 'which must not be less than three months after the day in which judgment is entered, and not longer than six months thereafter' (§ 8305); that when there was no jail within the county, or whenever the officer having in charge any person under judgment of death deemed the jail of the county where the conviction was had insecure, unfit, or unsafe for any cause, he could confine the convicted person in the jail of any other convenient county of the state (§ 8320); that the judgment of death should be executed within the walls or yard of the jail of the county in which the conviction was had, or within some convenient inclosure within such county (§ 8321); and that judgment of death must be executed by the sheriff of the county where the conviction was had, or by his deputy, one of whom, at least, must be present at the execution. N. D. Rev. Codes, 1899, pp. 1622, 1623.

Page 321

The sentence of death was pronounced March 31st, 1903. Prior to that date, namely, on March 9th, 1903, the legislature—without changing the law prescribing death or imprisonment for life as the punishment for the crime of murder in the first degree—passed an act providing that all executions should take place at the penitentiary, and amending certain sections of the Revised Codes of 1899. By that act it was provided:

'§ 1. The mode of inflicting the punishment of death shall be by hanging by the neck until the person is dead; and the warden of the North Dakota penitentiart, or, in case of his death, inability, or absence, the deputy warden, shall be the executioner; and when any person shall be sentenced, by any court of the state having competent jurisdiction, to be hanged by the neck until dead, such punishment shall only be inflicted within the walls of the North Dakota penitentiary at Bismarck, North Dakota, within an inclosure to be prepared for that purpose under the direction of the warden of the penitentiary and the board of trustees thereof, which inclosure shall be higher than the gallows, and so constructed as to exclude public view.'

'§ 3. When a person is sentenced to death, all writs for the execution of the death penalty shall be directed to the sheriff by the court issuing the same, and the sheriff of the county wherein the prisoner has been convicted and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
61 practice notes
  • California Dept. Corrections v. Morales, 931462
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 25, 1995
    ...the conditions of confinement to determine whether they are favorable or unfavorable to the prisoner, see, e.g., Rooney v. North Dakota, 196 U.S. 319, 325, 25 S.Ct. 264, 265, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905); In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 171, 10 ,S.Ct. 384, 33 L.Ed. 835 (1890), no Member of the Court has......
  • State v. Burr, No. 980272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • July 29, 1999
    ...the severity of punishment in certain murder cases). ¶44 Similarly, this court in State v. Rooney, 12 N.D. 144, 95 N.W. 513 (1903), aff'd, 196 U.S. 319, 25 S.Ct. 264, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905), held that a new statute controlling the place of confinement and the timing of execution of a convicted......
  • Milhouse v. Levi, No. 75-1844
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 13, 1976
    ...386, 390, 1 L.Ed. 648 (1798). See Lindsey v. Washington, 301 U.S. 397, 401, 57 S.Ct. 797, 81 L.Ed. 1182 (1937); Rooney v. North Dakota, 196 U.S. 319, 325, 25 S.Ct. 264, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905). Cf. United States v. Henson, 159 U.S.App.D.C. 32, 486 F.2d 1292, 1305-1306 (1973) (en banc). The gist......
  • Scheidemann v. I.N.S., No. 95-3241
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • May 16, 1996
    ...time of the offense.' " Warden v. Marrero, 417 U.S. 653, 663, 94 S.Ct. 2532, 2538, 41 L.Ed.2d 383 (1974) (quoting Rooney v. North Dakota, 196 U.S. 319, 325, 25 S.Ct. 264, 265, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905)) (emphasis in original). As the Court explained, "only an unusual prisoner could be expected to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • California Dept. Corrections v. Morales, 931462
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 25, 1995
    ...the conditions of confinement to determine whether they are favorable or unfavorable to the prisoner, see, e.g., Rooney v. North Dakota, 196 U.S. 319, 325, 25 S.Ct. 264, 265, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905); In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 171, 10 ,S.Ct. 384, 33 L.Ed. 835 (1890), no Member of the Court has......
  • State v. Burr, No. 980272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • July 29, 1999
    ...the severity of punishment in certain murder cases). ¶44 Similarly, this court in State v. Rooney, 12 N.D. 144, 95 N.W. 513 (1903), aff'd, 196 U.S. 319, 25 S.Ct. 264, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905), held that a new statute controlling the place of confinement and the timing of execution of a convicted......
  • Milhouse v. Levi, No. 75-1844
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 13, 1976
    ...386, 390, 1 L.Ed. 648 (1798). See Lindsey v. Washington, 301 U.S. 397, 401, 57 S.Ct. 797, 81 L.Ed. 1182 (1937); Rooney v. North Dakota, 196 U.S. 319, 325, 25 S.Ct. 264, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905). Cf. United States v. Henson, 159 U.S.App.D.C. 32, 486 F.2d 1292, 1305-1306 (1973) (en banc). The gist......
  • Scheidemann v. I.N.S., No. 95-3241
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • May 16, 1996
    ...time of the offense.' " Warden v. Marrero, 417 U.S. 653, 663, 94 S.Ct. 2532, 2538, 41 L.Ed.2d 383 (1974) (quoting Rooney v. North Dakota, 196 U.S. 319, 325, 25 S.Ct. 264, 265, 49 L.Ed. 494 (1905)) (emphasis in original). As the Court explained, "only an unusual prisoner could be expected to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT