Kills Crow v. United States, No. 71-1127.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMATTHES, , and BRIGHT and STEPHENSON, Circuit
Citation451 F.2d 323
PartiesArnold Francis KILLS CROW, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 71-1127.
Decision Date02 December 1971

451 F.2d 323 (1971)

Arnold Francis KILLS CROW, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 71-1127.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

November 10, 1971.

Rehearing Denied December 2, 1971.


451 F.2d 324

R. Murray Ogborn, Aberdeen, S. D., for appellant.

Richard D. Hurd, Asst. U. S. Atty., William F. Clayton, U. S. Atty., Sioux Falls, S. D., for appellee.

Before MATTHES, Chief Judge, and BRIGHT and STEPHENSON, Circuit Judges.

MATTHES, Chief Judge.

The Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153,1 creates federal jurisdiction over enumerated offenses when committed by Indians on Indian reservations. Appellant, an Indian, was charged under the act with having assaulted his wife, on a South Dakota reservation, with intent to do great bodily injury by stabbing her with a knife. A jury found him guilty, and he has appealed from the judgment of conviction.

Several errors are alleged on appeal, the most significant being the district court's refusal to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of simple assault. Evidence adduced at trial tended to place in controversy the question of whether appellant had possessed the intent to inflict great bodily injury requisite for conviction of the charged greater offense.2 The evidence established clearly that appellant was rather drunk at the time of the assault, having been drinking rubbing alcohol and wine for several hours prior thereto. Further, appellant claimed to have discovered his wife and brother engaged in sexual intercourse immediately prior to the attack. Finally, appellant testified that at the time of the assault he had not intended to injure his wife.

Claimed as error also was the admission into evidence of a knife, allegedly used in the assault and found on appellant's person shortly thereafter. Objection to the knife's admissibility is premised largely upon some weakness in the testimony as to whether a knife actually was the instrument of the assault and upon the failure of government investigators to conduct tests for blood traces and fingerprints on the weapon.

451 F.2d 325

Other alleged errors include denial of a motion for acquittal based upon insufficiency of the evidence to support the conviction, a purportedly prejudicial response by the court to a jury inquiry, and the admission into evidence of a signed statement and waiver of rights.

We consider first whether the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser offense of simple assault. This question turns upon a determination of whether section 1153 is sufficiently broad in scope to have vested in the district court jurisdiction to consider, and thus to instruct upon, the lesser offense.

We agree with the district court that the instruction could not properly have been given in this case. The Major Crimes Act recognizes only aggravated assaults, and one looks in vain for another statute conferring jurisdiction upon federal courts to convict Indians of simple assault, at least where the offense is alleged to have been committed on a reservation.

We reject the contention that such jurisdiction arises by implication from section 1153. The Supreme Court ruled in Todd v. United States, 158 U.S. 278, 15 S.Ct. 889, 39 L.Ed. 982 (1895), that

it is axiomatic that statutes creating and defining crimes cannot be extended by intendment, and that no act, however wrongful, can be punished under such a statute unless clearly within its terms. There can be no constructive offenses, and, before a man can be punished, his case must be plainly and unmistakably within the statute. 158 U.S., at 282, 15 S.Ct. at 890.

This court applied this principle of strict construction to section 1153 in United States v. Davis, 429 F.2d 552 (8th Cir. 1970), where we observed that an Indian charged with an aggravated assault could not be convicted in federal court of the lesser offense of simple assault. 429 F.2d, at 554.3

It is argued that such a construction of section 1153, by which Indians are denied an instruction available to white men, invests the statute with a racially discriminatory effect and renders it violative of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. We turn now to a consideration of this argument.

To be noted at the outset is that, although the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to the federal government, federal discrimination may be so gross as to be unconstitutional by virtue of the Fifth Amendment's due process guarantee. Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 499, 74 S.Ct. 693, 98 L.Ed. 884 (1954). Next, it hardly needs to be observed that section 1153 is founded upon a racial classification and, as illustrated here, may in some respects result in further racial distinctions. It is clear also that racial classifications are "constitutionally suspect," Hunter v. Erickson, 393 U.S. 385, 392, 89 S.Ct. 557, 21 L. Ed.2d 616 (1969), and subject to the "most rigid scrutiny." Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 216, 65 S. Ct. 193, 89 L.Ed. 194 (1944).

We recognize also, however, that racial classifications initially are only suspect, and are unconstitutional only if invidious or capricious. Whether a given classification is consistent with due process depends upon the context in

451 F.2d 326
which the classification is made, and history is relevant to this inquiry. Cohen v. Hurley, 366 U.S. 117, 129-130, 81 S.Ct. 954, 6 L.Ed.2d 156 (1961). We have examined the context in which the distinction here at issue arises, and we conclude that neither the racial classification underlying all of section 1153, nor the procedural effect of denying Indians instructions on lesser offenses, is unconstitutional

The constitutionality of the underlying racial classification is apparent from the history of the relationship between the federal government and the Indians. That relationship from the beginning has been characterized as resembling that of guardian and ward. See, e. g., Board of Commissioners of Creek County, Okl. v. Seber, 318 U.S. 705, 718, 63 S.Ct. 920, 87 L.Ed. 1094 (1943); United States v. Kagama, 118 U.S. 375, 383-384, 6 S.Ct. 1109, 30 L.Ed. 228 (1886); Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 17, 8 L.Ed. 25 (1831). The Supreme Court held in United States v. Thomas, 151 U.S. 577, 14 S.Ct. 426, 38 L.Ed. 276 (1894), that as an incident of its guardianship the United States

have full authority to pass such laws * * * as may be necessary to give to these people full protection in their persons and property, and to punish all offenses committed against them or by them within federally granted reservations. 151 U.S., at 585, 14 S. Ct., at 429.4

The remaining question is whether Congress, having elected to afford federal recognition to certain Indian offenses, properly may decline to create federal jurisdiction over all Indian offenses. This question is colored by the likelihood that such selectiveness will result in racially tinged procedural distinctions such as the one here at issue. We conclude, however, that distinctions created through Congressional restraint in enacting Indian criminal legislation are neither invidious nor capricious and are, in fact, generally beneficial to Indians. This is so basically because Indian tribal courts have inherent jurisdiction over all internal criminal matters not taken over by the federal government. United States v. Quiver, 241 U.S. 602, 36 S.Ct. 699, 60 L.Ed. 1196 (1916); Iron Crow v. Oglala Sioux Tribe, 231...

To continue reading

Request your trial
30 practice notes
  • McCabe v. Macaulay, No. 05-CV-73-LRR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 4, 2007
    ...Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to federal actors such as Macaulay. See, e.g., Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 325 (8th Cir.1971) ("To be noted at the outset is that ... the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to th......
  • U.S. v. Archambault, No. CR 00-30089.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • October 18, 2001
    ...200 F.3d 1137, 1138-40 (8th Cir. 1999); United States v. Juvenile Male, 864 F.2d 641, 645-46 (9th Cir.1988); Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 325-27 (8th Cir.1971), cert. denied, 405 U.S. 999, 92 S.Ct. 1262, 31 L.Ed.2d 467 (1972); United States v. Banks, 368 F.Supp. 1245, 1248 [¶ ......
  • United States v. Lasley, No. 15-1738
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • August 12, 2016
    ...jurisdiction over certain enumerated crimes,5 including murder, committed by Indians in Indian Country. Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 324 (8th Cir. 1971). Jurisdiction over the types of crimes enumerated in the Major Crimes Act would generally lie with the state or tribal gover......
  • Means v. Wilson, No. CIV 74-5010.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • September 20, 1974
    ...the present federal objective of preserving the Indian tribes as self-governing, culturally autonomous units. Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 326-327 (8th Cir. 1971); note, The Indian Bill of Rights and the Constitutional Status of Tribal Governments, 82 Harv.L.Rev. 1343, 1359-60......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • McCabe v. Macaulay, No. 05-CV-73-LRR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 4, 2007
    ...Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to federal actors such as Macaulay. See, e.g., Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 325 (8th Cir.1971) ("To be noted at the outset is that ... the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to th......
  • U.S. v. Archambault, No. CR 00-30089.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • October 18, 2001
    ...200 F.3d 1137, 1138-40 (8th Cir. 1999); United States v. Juvenile Male, 864 F.2d 641, 645-46 (9th Cir.1988); Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 325-27 (8th Cir.1971), cert. denied, 405 U.S. 999, 92 S.Ct. 1262, 31 L.Ed.2d 467 (1972); United States v. Banks, 368 F.Supp. 1245, 1248 [¶ ......
  • United States v. Lasley, No. 15-1738
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • August 12, 2016
    ...jurisdiction over certain enumerated crimes,5 including murder, committed by Indians in Indian Country. Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 324 (8th Cir. 1971). Jurisdiction over the types of crimes enumerated in the Major Crimes Act would generally lie with the state or tribal gover......
  • Means v. Wilson, No. CIV 74-5010.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • September 20, 1974
    ...the present federal objective of preserving the Indian tribes as self-governing, culturally autonomous units. Kills Crow v. United States, 451 F.2d 323, 326-327 (8th Cir. 1971); note, The Indian Bill of Rights and the Constitutional Status of Tribal Governments, 82 Harv.L.Rev. 1343, 1359-60......
  • 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