Martin Ocampo v. United States

Citation234 U.S. 91,34 S.Ct. 712,58 L.Ed. 1231
Decision Date25 May 1914
Docket NumberNo. 270,270
PartiesMARTIN OCAMPO and Teodoro M. Kalaw, Plffs. in Err., v. UNITED STATES
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. William R. Harr and Clement L. Bouv e for plaintiffs in error.

Solicitor General Davis for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Pitney delivered the opinion of the court:

On November 5, 1908, an information was filed in the court of first instance of the city of Manila, charging plaintiffs in error, with others, as editors, proprietors, owners, directors, writers, managers, administrators, printers, and publishers of the newspaper 'El Renacimiento,' with publishing in that city a libel against Dean C. Worcester, then a member of the Philippine Commission. The information was subscribed and sworn to by the acting prosecuting attorney, and appended to it, and likewise sworn to by him, was the following declara- tion: 'A preliminary investigation has been conducted under my direction, having examined the witnesses under oath, in accordance with the provisions of § 39 of act 183 (Manila charter), as amended by § 2 of act 612 of the Philippine Commission.' Both affidavits were made before the judge of the court of first instance, who thereupon issued warrants of arrest, pursuant to which the parties accused were on the same day brought before the court. The information was read to them, and the court allowed them until November 7th to answer. Their attorney, being present, asked that they be furnished with a copy of the information, which request was granted, and a copy was delivered to each of the accused. Thereafter, and on November 7th, before entering any demurrer or answer, they moved to vacate the order of arrest, upon the ground that it was made without any preliminary investigation held by the court, and without any tribunal, was probable cause to believe the defendants having first determined that the alleged crime had been committed, and that there was provable cause to believe the defendants guilty of it; the procedure adopted being, as was claimed, in violation of §§ 12 and 13 of General Orders, No. 58, issued by the military governor April 23, 1910, and of paragraphs 1, 3, 11, and 18 of § 5 of the Philippines bill, enacted by the Congress of the United States on July 1, 1902; and it was insisted that § 2 of act No. 612 of the Philippine Commission, which took from accused persons in the city of Manila the right to a preliminary investigation, was contrary to the cited paragraphs of the Philippines bill, because it provided that accused persons in that city might be deprived of their liberty without due process of law, denied to the inhabitants of that city the equal protection of the law, deprived persons detained there to answer for a criminal offense of the 'proper judicial proceedings,' and violated the guaranty against arbitrary detention.

This motion being overruled, defendants moved for an order requiring the prosecuting attorney to submit to the court and to them for examination the proceedings of the preliminary investigation alleged to have been conducted by him. This motion was likewise overruled.

Defendants then asked the court to hold a preliminary investigation before calling upon them to either demur to or answer the complaint. This motion being denied, demurrers were filed, which were overruled, and the defendants were called upon to plead to the information. They stood mute, and a plea of not guilty was entered for each of them. Upon their request, separate trials were granted. Ocampo was found guilty, and sentenced to six months' imprisonment and to pay a fine of 2,000 pesos and one fifth of the costs of the action. Kalaw was also found guilty, and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment and to pay a fine of 3,000 pesos and one fifth of the costs. Upon their writ of error, the supreme court of the Philippine Islands affirmed the judgment as to Ocampo, and modified the sentence imposed upon Kalaw so as to increase the period of his imprisonment to twelve months. 18 Philippine, 1. The present writ of error was then sued out.

The insistence is here renewed, that the arrest and trial of plaintiffs in error were without a preliminary finding of probable cause, and therefore in violation of rights secured to them by the Philippine Bill of Rights (act of July 1, 1902, § 5, chap. 1369, 32 Stat. at L. 692). This act, following the provisions of certain of the Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, declares, inter alia:

'See 5. That no law shall be enacted in said islands which shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or deny to any person therein the equal protection of the laws.

* * * * * 'That no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law; . . .

* * * * *

'That no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation. . . .'

Prior to its enactment, and under date April 23, 1900, General Orders, No. 58, had been promulgated by the military governor, amending the Criminal Code of Procedure in certain respects, and providing by §§ 12 and 13 that every person making complaint charging the commission of a crime must inform the magistrate of all persons believed to have any knowledge of its commission, whereupon the magistrate must issue subpoenas requiring them to attend as witnesses, and must examine the informant or prosecutor and the witnesses, and take their depositions in writing, and, if satisfied from the investigation that the crime complained of had been committed, and that there was reasonable ground to believe that the party charged had committed it, the magistrate must issue an order of arrest.

By § 40 of act No. 183 of the Philippine Commission (the Manila charter, enacted August 1, 1901), municipal courts with criminal jurisdiction were established, and were empowered to conduct preliminary examinations, and to release, or commit and bind over, any person charged with an offense, to secure his appearance before the proper court; it being, among other things, provided that 'every person arrested shall, without unnecessary delay, be brought before a municipal court or a court of first instance for preliminary hearing, release on bail, or trial.'

Section 44 provided for two justices of the peace for the city of Manila, to exercise within the city the civil jurisdiction conferred upon justices of the peace in act No. 136; but they were debarred from exercising any criminal jurisdiction, such jurisdiction within the city being confined to courts of first instance and the municipal courts.

By act No. 186 (August 5, 1901), the existing courts of justices of the peace in the city of Manila were abolished, and civil actions and proceedings then pending therein were transferred to the courts of justices of the peace established under act No. 183, while pending criminal actions and proceedings were transferred to the municipal courts established under act No. 183.

Act No. 194 (August 10, 1901), in its 1st section provides: 'Every justice of the peace in the Philippine Islands is hereby invested with authority to make preliminary investigation of any crime alleged to have been committed within his municipality, jurisdiction to hear and determine which is by law now vested in the judges of courts of first instance.' And it is by the same section made the duty of every justice of the peace, when written complaint under oath is made to him that a crime has been committed within his municipality, and there is reason to believe that any person has committed it, or when he has knowledge of facts tending to show the commission of a crime within his municipality by any person, to issue an order for the arrest of the accused, and have him brought before the justice for preliminary examination. Section 2 prescribes the procedure, which accords to the accused the right to examine the complaint and affidavits, to be present and hear and cross-examine the witnesses for the government, to offer witnesses in his own behalf, and give his own testimony if he desires; and 'upon the conclusion of the preliminary investigation, if the justice of the peace is of the opinion that there is reasonable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the accused is guilty thereof, he shall so declare, and shall adjudge that the accused be remanded to jail for safe-keeping to await the action of the judge or court of first instance, unless he give bail, etc. On the other hand, if the justice of the peace be of the opinion that no crime has been committed, or that there is no reasonable ground to believe the accused guilty thereof, the justice of the peace shall order the discharge of the accused. Such discharge, however, shall not operate as a final acquittal of the accused, but he may be again arrested and prosecuted for the same offense.'

It was and is contended by plaintiffs in error that the procedure thus indicated ought to have been followed in their case.

The prosecution proceeded upon the theory that the above requirements as to preliminary examination and the finding of probable cause were repealed as to the city of Manila by act No. 612 of the Philippine Commission (February 3, 1903), § 2 of which provides:

'In cases triable only in the court of first instance in the city of Manila, the defendant shall have a speedy trial, but shall not be entitled as of right to a preliminary examination in any case where the prosecuting attorney, after a due investigation of the facts, under § 39 of the act of which this is an amendment [act No. 183], shall have presented an information against him in proper form: Provided, however, that the court of first instance may make such summary investigation into the case as it may deem necessary to enable it to fix bail or determine whether the offense is bailable.'

Section 39 of the charter act, here referred to, provides:

'The prosecuting attorney of the ...

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