Lem Woon v. State of Oregon

Decision Date09 June 1913
Docket NumberNo. 261,261
PartiesLEM WOON, Plff. in Err., v. STATE OF OREGON
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. James E. Fenton, John F. Logan, Frank F. Freeman, and Ralph E. Moody for plaintiff in error.

Mr. A. M. Crawford, Attorney General of Oregon, and Messrs. Dan J. Malarkey and Walter H. Evans for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Pitney delivered the opinion of the court:

On March 9, 1908, Lem Woon, the plaintiff in error, was accused by a sworn complaint, made before a committing magistrate of the city of Portland, of the crime of murder in the killing of Lee Tai Hoy, and, being arraigned before the magistrate, waived examination, and was held to answer the charge. On April 1, 1908, the district attorney of the proper district filed in the proper circuit court an information charging him with the crime of murder in the first degree in respect of the same homicide. The institution of the prosecution by such an information was at that time authorized by § 1 of an act of 1899, known as the 'information law,' Sess. Laws 1899, p. 99, Bellinger and Cotton's Anno. Codes & Statutes, § 1258, which reads as follows:

'Hereafter it shall be lawful for the district attorney of any judicial district of this state, and it is hereby made his duty, to file in the proper circuit court an information charging any person or persons with the commission of any crime defined and made punishable by any of the laws of this state, and which shall have been committed in the county where the information is filed.'

The Constitution and laws of Oregon at that time in force did not require any examination, or commitment by a magistrate, as a condition precedent to the institution of a prosecution by an information filed by the district attorney, nor require any verification other than his official oath. State v. Belding, 43 Or. 95, 99, 71 Pac. 330; State v. Guglielmo, 46 Or. 250, 69 L.R.A. 466, 79 Pac. 577, 80 Pac. 103, 7 Ann. Cas. 976.

On June 12, 1908, the plaintiff in error, having pleaded not guilty, was placed on trial before the circuit court and a jury, and, being found guilty as charged in the indictment, was afterwards sentenced to death.

On June 1, 1908, after the filing of the information, and before his trial thereunder, § 18 of article 7 of the Constitution of Oregon, under which, as it previously stood, prosecutions by information were permitted, was amended so as to provide as follows: 'No person shall be charged in any circuit court with the commission of any crime or misdemeanor defined or made punishable by any of the laws of this state, except upon indictment found by a grand jury.'

Plaintiff in error appealed to the supreme court of the state, which affirmed the judgment of conviction (57 Or. 482, 107 Pac. 974), and denied a petition for a rehearing (57 Or. 499, 112 Pac. 427), and the case comes here under § 709, Rev. Stat. (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 575), Judicial Code, § 237 [36 Stat. at L. 1156, chap. 231, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 227].

Two Federal questions were raised in the state courts and there decided adversely to the plaintiff in error, and are here assigned for error.

First, that the 'information act' of February 17, 1899, is in contravention of the 'due process of law' clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Second, that the adoption of the amendment of the state Constitution after the plaintiff in error was charged with the crime operated to repeal all laws in conflict therewith immediately upon its adoption, and therefore he could not be tried, convicted, and sentenced without indictment by grand jury.

The second point was abandoned upon the argument, doubtless because it was considered to be foreclosed by the decision of this court in the recent case of Ross v. Oregon, 227 U. S. 150, 164, 57 L. ed. ——, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 220. In that case the plaintiff in error was tried and convicted in a prosecution instituted by information, and his case was pending on appeal in the state court at the time of the adoption of the constitutional amendment. He advanced the contention that the amendment had the effect of repealing the 'information law,' and made it impossible to enforce the judgment against him because of the due process of law clause. But the state court ruled (55 Or. 450, 479, 42 L.R.A.(N.S.) 601, 104 Pac. 596, 106 Pac. 1022), that the amendment of the state Constitution was prospective, and did not affect pending cases. This court held that this decision involved nothing more than the construction of the amend- ment, which was a question of local law, not reviewable here.

The case of the present plaintiff in error is not distinguishable upon the ground that he had not yet been put upon trial when the amendment was adopted; for the construction placed by the supreme court of Oregon upon the amendment is that it had no effect upon the 'information law' except with respect to prosecutions thereafter instituted. So it was held in State v. Ju Nun, 53 Or. 1, 9, 98 Pac. 513, 514, the court saying: 'It will be observed that the amendment does not provide...

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  • Commonwealth v. Mayberry
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 16, 1974
    ...Standards Relating to the Function of the Trial Judge § 7.4 & Commentary at 95 (Approved Draft, 1972). [16] Cf. Lem Woon v. Oregon, 229 U.S. 586, 33 S.Ct. 783, 57 L.Ed. 1340 (1913); Goldsby v. United States, 160 U.S. 70, 73, 16 S.Ct. 216, 218, 40 L.Ed. 343 (1895). [17] See Marco Indus., Inc......
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 24, 1994
    ...oversight or review of the decision to prosecute." Id., at 118-119. See also Beck v. Washington, 369 U. S. 541, 545 (1962); Lem Woon v. Oregon, 229 U. S. 586 (1913). But here petitioner was not merely charged; he submitted himself to arrest.the elements of a criminal case beyond a reasonabl......
  • United States ex rel. Epton v. Nenna, 68 Civ. 461.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • October 5, 1970
    ...the decision to prosecute to highly selected and specially qualified people — e.g., law-trained prosecutors. Lem Woon v. Oregon, 229 U.S. 586, 33 S.Ct. 783, 57 L.Ed. 1340 (1913); Gaines v. Washington, 277 U.S. 81, 86, 48 S.Ct. 468, 72 L.Ed. 793 (1928); Beck v. Washington, 369 U.S. 541, 545,......
  • State v. Edmonson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • May 29, 1987
    ...defendant a preliminary hearing does not violate the fourteenth amendment through the fifth amendment. Lem Woon v. Oregon, 229 U.S. 586, 33 S.Ct. 783, 57 L.Ed.2d 1340 (1913). In a slightly different context (whether a person arrested and held for trial is entitled to a judicial determinatio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Procedure, Volume Two: Adjudication (CAP)
    • Invalid date
    ...of Crime & Justice 1131 (Joshua Dressler ed., 2d ed., 2002).[63] See Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 119 (1975); Lem Woon v. Oregon, 229 U.S. 586 (1913).[64] In the federal system, the hearing must be held no later than ten days following the initial appearance, if the arrestee is in custod......

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