William Breese v. United States, No. 476

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHolmes
Citation33 S.Ct. 1,226 U.S. 1,57 L.Ed. 97
Docket NumberNo. 476
Decision Date28 October 1912
PartiesWILLIAM E. BREESE and Joseph E. Dickerson v. UNITED STATES

226 U.S. 1
33 S.Ct. 1
57 L.Ed. 97
WILLIAM E. BREESE and Joseph E. Dickerson

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 476.
Argued October 15, 1912.
Decided October 28, 1912.

Page 2

Messrs. Charles A. Douglas, John S. Adams, Thomas Ruffin, James H. Merrimon, Gibbs L. Baker, and Hugh H. Obear for Breese and Dickerson.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 2-5 intentionally omitted]

Page 5

Assistant Attorney General Denison and Mr. Louis G. Bissell for the United States.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 5-7 intentionally omitted]

Page 7

Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

This case comes here on a certificate which may be summed up as follows: The defendants were indicted in 1897 under Rev. Stat. § 5440, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3676, for a conspiracy to embezzle funds of a national bank. In the following term, on November 6, 1897, they were ordered to plead, and pleaded not guilty; but the order provided that the plea should not 'prevent their taking advantage, upon motion in arrest of judgment, or on motion for a new trial, of all matters and things which could be taken advantage of by motion to quash or demurrer; upon motion in arrest of

Page 8

judgment or for a new trial, all such matters and things shall be heard and determined as if the same were being heard upon motion to quash or demurrer.' After the trial of another case, this one was called for trial at the May term, 1908. The defendants then pleaded in abatement and moved to quash on the ground of the disqualification of three grand jurors, but the plea and motion were not maintained by the facts. 172 Fed. 761. The case was put down for trial again on June 21, 1909. The defendants again pleaded in abatement and moved to quash on the ground that the foreman of the grand jury delivered the indictment to the judge during the session of the court, but in the absence of the other grand jurors. The court denied the plea and overruled the motion. A jury was sworn, the defendants were tried and found guilty, and after a motion for a new trial had been made on the same ground as above, and overruled, they were sentenced. 172 Fed. 768. The question is whether the last-mentioned plea and motions should have been sustained.

The facts are 'that more than twelve grand jurors voted to find the indictment a true bill. That when this action had been taken, the grand jury was in session in a room adjoining the court room, on the same floor, with a door opening into the court room. The foreman left the grand jury, went into the court room with the bill of indictment, and handed it to Judge Purnell, the presiding judge, in person, the judge being then on the bench and the court open, and that the judge looked over the indictment and handed it to the clerk in open court, and that the foreman then returned to the grand jury room and proceeded with the business of the grand jury there assembled; that the grand jury did not accompany him when he brought the bill of indictment into the court room and handed it to the court.' The mode of proceeding was the same as that prescribed by the laws of North Carolina. The clerk filed

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the indictment and made the following entry: 'United States v. W. E. Breese, W. H. Penland, and J. E. Dickerson, Indct.: Conspiracy and embezzlement, Oct. Term. 1897. 'A true bill. J. M. Allen, foreman.' In the above-entitled cause it is ordered by the court, upon motion of the district attorney, that the said cause, together with all the papers therein, be transferred to Asheville, to be there tried at the next term of the said court, to be held on the 1st Monday in November next.'

Six questions are certified, which are intended to present in detail whether, in the circumstances stated, the indictment should have been quashed. It is enough to

1. Is such an...

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22 practice notes
  • Halvonik v. Dudas, No. CIV.A. 99-863.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • 8 Agosto 2005
    ...the principle of harmless error), Save Our Heritage, Inc. v. FAA, 269 F.3d 49, 61-62 (1st Cir.2001); cf. Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 10-11, 33 S.Ct. 1, 57 L.Ed. 97 (1912) (denying a defendant's motion to dismiss because even if the alleged error had occurred during the grand jury p......
  • Roche v. Evaporated Milk Ass, No. 584
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 3 Mayo 1943
    ...which, if the proper subject of a plea in abatement, did not affect the jurisdiction of the court. Cf. Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 10, 11, 33 S.Ct. 1, 2, 3, 57 L.Ed. 97; Kaizo v. Henry, 211 U.S. 146, 149, 29 S.Ct. 41, 42, 53 L.Ed. 125; Matter of Moran, 203 U.S. 96, 104, 27 S.Ct. 25......
  • Glasser v. United States Kretske v. Same Roth v. Same 8212 32, Nos. 30
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 19 Enero 1942
    ...we do not think that this informal clarification of the record amounts to such error as requires reversal. Cf. Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 33 S.Ct. 1, 57 L.Ed. 97. The demurrers to the indictment were properly overruled. The indictment is sufficiently definite to inform petitioners......
  • U.S. v. Fein, No. 1121
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 15 Octubre 1974
    ...or crimes over which the district court in which the charges had been brought had jurisdiction. 3 E.g., Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 11, 33 S.Ct. 1, 57 L.Ed. 97 (1912) (indictment voted by grand jury not presented to presiding judge in presence of grand jurors); Agnew v. United Stat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Halvonik v. Dudas, No. CIV.A. 99-863.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • 8 Agosto 2005
    ...the principle of harmless error), Save Our Heritage, Inc. v. FAA, 269 F.3d 49, 61-62 (1st Cir.2001); cf. Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 10-11, 33 S.Ct. 1, 57 L.Ed. 97 (1912) (denying a defendant's motion to dismiss because even if the alleged error had occurred during the grand jury p......
  • Roche v. Evaporated Milk Ass, No. 584
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 3 Mayo 1943
    ...which, if the proper subject of a plea in abatement, did not affect the jurisdiction of the court. Cf. Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 10, 11, 33 S.Ct. 1, 2, 3, 57 L.Ed. 97; Kaizo v. Henry, 211 U.S. 146, 149, 29 S.Ct. 41, 42, 53 L.Ed. 125; Matter of Moran, 203 U.S. 96, 104, 27 S.Ct. 25......
  • Glasser v. United States Kretske v. Same Roth v. Same 8212 32, Nos. 30
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 19 Enero 1942
    ...we do not think that this informal clarification of the record amounts to such error as requires reversal. Cf. Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 33 S.Ct. 1, 57 L.Ed. 97. The demurrers to the indictment were properly overruled. The indictment is sufficiently definite to inform petitioners......
  • U.S. v. Fein, No. 1121
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 15 Octubre 1974
    ...or crimes over which the district court in which the charges had been brought had jurisdiction. 3 E.g., Breese v. United States, 226 U.S. 1, 11, 33 S.Ct. 1, 57 L.Ed. 97 (1912) (indictment voted by grand jury not presented to presiding judge in presence of grand jurors); Agnew v. United Stat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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