United States v. Bowman, No. 69

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtTAFT
Citation67 L.Ed. 149,260 U.S. 94,43 S.Ct. 39
PartiesUNITED STATES v. BOWMAN
Decision Date13 November 1922
Docket NumberNo. 69

260 U.S. 94
43 S.Ct. 39
67 L.Ed. 149
UNITED STATES

v.

BOWMAN.

No. 69.
Argued Oct. 17, 1922.
Decided Nov. 13, 1922.

Mr. Solicitor General James M. Beck, of Washington, D. C., for the United States.

Page 95

Mr. Chief Justice TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a writ of error under the Criminal Appeals Act (34 Stat. c. 2564, p. 1246 [Comp. St. § 1704]) to review the ruling of the District Court sustaining a demurrer of one of the defendants to an indictment for a conspiracy to defraud a corporation in which the United States was and is a stockholder, under section 35 of the Criminal Code, as amended October 23, 1918 (40 Stat. 1015 [Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1919, § 10199]).

During the period covered by the indictment, i. e., between October, 1919, and January, 1920, the steamship Dio belonged to the United States. The United States owned all the stock in the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. The National Shipping Corporation agreed to operate and manage the Dio for the Fleet Corporation, which under the contract was to pay for fuel, oil, labor, and material used in the operation. The Dio was on a voyage to Rio Janeiro under this management. Wry was her master, Bowman was her engineer, Hawkinson was the agent of the Standard Oil Company at Rio Janeiro, and Millar was a merchant and ship repairer and engineer in Rio. Of these four, who were the defendants in the indictment, the first three were American citizens, and Millar was a British subject. Johnston & Co. were the agents of the National Shipping Corporation at Rio. The indictment charged that the plot was hatched by Wry and Bowman on board the Dio before she reached Rio. Their plan was to order, through Johnston & Co., and receipt for, 1,000 tons of fuel oil from the Standard Oil Company, but to take only 600 tons aboard, and to collect cash for a delivery of 1,000 tons through Johnston & Co., from the Fleet Corporation, and then divide the money paid for the undelivered 400 tons among the four defendants. This

Page 96

plan was to be, and was, made possible through the guilty connivance of the Standard Oil agent, Hawkinson, and Millar, the Rio merchant, who was to, and did, collect the money. Overt acts charged included a wireless telegram to the agents, Johnston & Co., from the Dio while on the high seas ordering the 1,000 tons of oil. The Southern District of New York was the district into which the American defendants were first brought and were found, but Millar, the British defendant, has not been found.

The first count charged a conspiracy by the defendants to defraud the Fleet Corporation, in which the United States was a stockholder, by obtaining and aiding to obtain the payment and allowance of a false and fraudulent claim against the Fleet Corporation. It laid the offense on the high seas, out of the jurisdiction of any particular state, and out of the jurisdiction of any district of the United States, but within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States. The second count laid the conspiracy on the Dio on the high seas and at the port of Rio Janeiro, as well as in the city. The third count laid it in the city of Rio Janeiro. The fourth count was for making and causing to be made in the name of the Standard Oil Company, for payment and approval, a false and fraudulent claim against the Fleet Corporation in the form of an invoice for 1,000 tons of fuel oil, of which 400 tons were not delivered. This count laid the same crime on board the Dio in the harbor of Rio Janeiro. The fifth count laid it in the city, and the sixth at the port and in the city.

No objection was made to the indictment or any count of it for lack of precision of fulness in describing all the elements of the crimes denounced in section 35 of the Criminal Code as amended. The sole objection was that the crime was committed without the jurisdiction of the United States or of any state thereof and on the high seas or

Page 97

within the jurisdiction of Brazil. The District Court considered only the first count, which charged the conspiracy to have been committed on the Dio on the high seas, and, having held that bad for lack of jurisdiction, a fortiori it sustained the demurrer as the others.

The court in its opinion conceded that under many authorities the United States as a sovereign may regulate the ships under its flag and the conduct of its citizens while on those ships, and cited to this point Crapo v. Kelly, 16 Wall. 610, 623-632, 21 L. Ed. 430; United States v. Rodgers, 150 U. S. 249, 260, 261, 264, 265, 14 Sup. Ct. 109, 37 L. Ed. 1071; The Hamilton, 207 U. S. 398, 403, 405, 28 Sup. Ct. 133, 52 L. Ed. 264; American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U. S. 347, 29 Sup. Ct. 511, 53 L. Ed. 826, 16 Ann. Cas. 1047; Wilson v. McNamee, 102 U. S. 572, 574, 26 L. Ed. 234; United States v. Smiley, 6 Sawyer, 640, 645, Fed Cas. No. 16,317. The court said, however, that while private and public ships of the United States on the high seas were constructively a part of the territory of the United States—indeed, peculiarly so, as distinguished from that of the States—Congress had always expressly indicated it when it intended that its laws should be operative on the high seas. The court concluded that, because jurisdiction of criminal offenses must be conferred upon United States courts and could not be inferred, and because section 35, like all the other sections of chapter 4 (Comp. St. §§ 10191-10252), contains no reference to the high seas as a part of the locus of the offense defined by it, as the sections in chapters 11 and 12 of the Criminal Code (Comp. St. §§ 10445-10483a) do, section 35 must be construed not to extend to acts committed on the high seas. It confirmed its conclusion by the statement that section 35 had never been invoked to punish offenses denounced, if committed on the high seas or in a foreign country.

We have in this case a question of statutory construction. The necessary locus, when not...

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221 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Delgado-Garcia, No. 03-3060.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • July 23, 2004
    ...inference from the character of the offense[s]" is that an extraterritorial location "would be a probable place for [their] commission." 260 U.S. 94, 99, 43 S.Ct. 39, 41, 67 L.Ed. 149 (1922). That evidence strengthens our conclusion that, read in context, these crimes apply to extraterritor......
  • Hartford Fire Insurance Co v. California Merrett Underwriting Agency Management Limited v. California, Nos. 91-1111
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 28, 1993
    ...are affected. See Ford v. United States, 273 U.S. 593, 621-623, 47 S.Ct. 531, 540-541, 71 L.Ed. 793 (1927); United States v. Bowman, 260 U.S. 94, 98-99, 43 S.Ct. 39, 41, 67 L.Ed. 149 (1922); American Banana, supra, 213 U.S. at 356, 29 S.Ct. at 512. But the question in this case is whether, ......
  • Chandler v. United States, No. 4296.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • February 28, 1949
    ...the territorial limits of the United States. In this connection the language of Chief Justice Taft in United States v. Bowman, 1922, 260 U.S. 94, 43 S.Ct. 39, 67 L.Ed. 149, is pertinent. In that case a provision of the Criminal Code punishing conspiracies to defraud the United States was co......
  • Ramirez & Feraud Chili Co. v. Las Palmas Food Company, No. 19355.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 8, 1956
    ...U.S. 421, 436-437, 52 S.Ct. 252, 76 L.Ed. 375; Cook v. Tait, 1924, 265 U.S. 47, 44 S.Ct. 444, 68 L.Ed. 895; United States v. Bowman, 1922, 260 U.S. 94, 43 S.Ct. 39, 67 L.Ed. 149; cf. Johnson v. Eisentrager, 1950, 339 U.S. 763, 769, 70 S.Ct. 936, 94 L.Ed. Also inherent in national sovereignt......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
220 cases
  • U.S. v. Delgado-Garcia, No. 03-3060.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • July 23, 2004
    ...inference from the character of the offense[s]" is that an extraterritorial location "would be a probable place for [their] commission." 260 U.S. 94, 99, 43 S.Ct. 39, 41, 67 L.Ed. 149 (1922). That evidence strengthens our conclusion that, read in context, these crimes apply to extraterritor......
  • Hartford Fire Insurance Co v. California Merrett Underwriting Agency Management Limited v. California, Nos. 91-1111
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 28, 1993
    ...are affected. See Ford v. United States, 273 U.S. 593, 621-623, 47 S.Ct. 531, 540-541, 71 L.Ed. 793 (1927); United States v. Bowman, 260 U.S. 94, 98-99, 43 S.Ct. 39, 41, 67 L.Ed. 149 (1922); American Banana, supra, 213 U.S. at 356, 29 S.Ct. at 512. But the question in this case is whether, ......
  • Chandler v. United States, No. 4296.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • February 28, 1949
    ...the territorial limits of the United States. In this connection the language of Chief Justice Taft in United States v. Bowman, 1922, 260 U.S. 94, 43 S.Ct. 39, 67 L.Ed. 149, is pertinent. In that case a provision of the Criminal Code punishing conspiracies to defraud the United States was co......
  • Ramirez & Feraud Chili Co. v. Las Palmas Food Company, No. 19355.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 8, 1956
    ...U.S. 421, 436-437, 52 S.Ct. 252, 76 L.Ed. 375; Cook v. Tait, 1924, 265 U.S. 47, 44 S.Ct. 444, 68 L.Ed. 895; United States v. Bowman, 1922, 260 U.S. 94, 43 S.Ct. 39, 67 L.Ed. 149; cf. Johnson v. Eisentrager, 1950, 339 U.S. 763, 769, 70 S.Ct. 936, 94 L.Ed. Also inherent in national sovereignt......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
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