Miller v. Snyder

Decision Date13 December 1854
Citation6 Ind. 1
PartiesMiller v. Snyder
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

APPEAL from an order of the judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Clark county, made in vacation.

The motion for a supersedeas is denied, with costs.

W. T Otto and J. S. Davis, for appellant.

Perkins J. Stuart, J.


Perkins, J.

Motion for a supersedeas.

Benjamin T. Snyder petitioned judge Lovering, of the Court of Common Pleas of Clark county, to grant him the writ of habeas corpus, to be directed to David W. Miller, warden of our state prison, requiring him to have the body, &c., with the cause of his detention. He alleged in his petition that he was illegally imprisoned, &c. The writ issued. The warden produced Snyder before the judge, and returned, as the cause of his detention, the record of his prosecution in, and conviction and sentence by, the Court of Common Pleas of Laporte county, Indiana, upon a charge of felony, in 1854. The judge ordered the prisoner to be discharged from the State prison, and returned to the jail of Laporte county, to await the further action of the Courts of said county. The warden appealed to this Court.

Did the judge of the Clark Common Pleas err in making the order of discharge, &c?

He had authority to issue the writ and hear the cause. 2 R. S., pp. 20 and 22, ss. 23 and 34.

Snyder, though a penitentiary-convict, had a right to apply for and obtain the writ. 2 R. S., p. 194, s. 714. And if his detention was "illegal," said section expressly required the judge to deliver him "therefrom."

His detention or imprisonment was illegal, because it was under a void judgment and sentence. That the judgment and sentence were void, necessarily follows from the fact that the Court which pronounced them had no jurisdiction of the cause in which they were declared,--a point this court has heretofore decided. Simington v. State, 5 Ind. 479. In Horner v. Doe, 1 Ind. 130, this Court held, that a judgment, appearing to be rendered by a Court having no jurisdiction of the subject-matter, was a nullity, and might be so treated when it came in question collaterally. See the authorities there cited. Here the want of jurisdiction does appear, as that of the Common Pleas is conferred by statute, and we must take notice of its extent. In Williamson v. Berry, 8 How. 495, the cases on this point are reviewed, and the rule is declared to be, "that where a limited tribunal takes upon itself to exercise a jurisdiction which does not belong to it, its decision amounts to nothing, and does not create a necessity for an appeal."

This question of jurisdiction the judge had a right to inquire into on the hearing upon habeas corpus, both upon general principles of law, and under our statute. The statute is (2 R. S., p. 195, s. 725) that the judge, on such hearing, when the prisoner is held "upon any process issued on any final judgment of a Court of competent jurisdiction," shall not discharge, &c., plainly implying that the question of jurisdiction is open to inquiry. See, also, 8 How., supra.

The judge did right, then, in discharging the petitioner from the penitentiary; but the record returned as showing the cause of his detention, showed that a complaint had been preferred against him of an act of felony; that upon that complaint he had been committed to the jail of Laporte county, in which said felony had been perpetrated, and that he had never been legally discharged from said imprisonment. This was a custody to which the Common Pleas, as an examining Court, had a right to commit the defendant, and from which the judge, on hearing the habeas corpus, had no right to discharge; for the statute enacts (2 R. S., p. 196, s. 725) that where the party is in custody, "upon a warrant issued from the Circuit Court or Court of Common Pleas, upon an indictment or information," such discharge shall not take place. In this latter case--that of the warrant--the party is held for trial, and not upon final judgment, and hence is legally in custody.

The judge, therefore, did right in refusing to discharge the petitioner from this custody, and in remanding him to the jail of Laporte county.

Our attention has been called to the case of Wright v. State, 5 Ind. 290, as being decisive of that now before us, but it is not even analogous.

In that case, the petitioner for the writ of habeas corpus was in the custody of...

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24 cases
  • Witte v. Dowd
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 20, 1951
    ...of competent jurisdiction,' shall not discharge, &c., plainly implying that the question of jurisdiction is open to inquiry.' Miller v. Snyder, 1854, 6 Ind. 1, 3. This same construction was given this provision in Smith v. Clausmeier, 1893, 136 Ind. 105, 113, 114, 35 N.E. 904, 906, where th......
  • Ex parte Cornwall
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • November 23, 1909
    ...absolutely void and the prisoner is entitled to be discharged on habeas corpus. Ex parte Page, 49 Mo. 291; Ex parte Cox, 32 P. 197; Miller v. Snyder, 6 Ind. 1; People v. Litscomb, N.Y. 559; State v. Norwood, 95 N.C. 578; Hanney v. State, 5 Wis. 521. Harvey D. Dow for respondents. The plea o......
  • Coeur D'Alene Ry. & Nav. Co. v. Spalding
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • May 9, 1898
    ...Dec. 351; Central Bank v. Gibson, 11 Ga. 453; Johnson v. Johnson, 30 Ill. 215; Swiggart v. Harber, 4 Scam. 364, 39 Am. Dec. 418; Miller v. Snyder, 6 Ind. 1; Seeley v. Reid, 3 Greene (Iowa), 374; Elliott Piersol, 1 Pet. 328.) Two courts cannot have jurisdiction of the same case. (Railroad Co......
  • State v. O'Donnell
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • May 13, 1916
    ...Mo. 291; Ex parte Cox [Idaho], 3 Idaho 530, 32 P. 197; Ex parte Kelly, 65 Cal. 154, 3 P. 673); and later cases in that state, and Miller v. Snyder, 6 Ind. 1, that, if a judgment be in part authorized and in part in excess of power, the entire judgment is void. On the other hand, Elsner v. S......
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