Roberts v. Reilly , 116 U.S. 80 ( 1885 )

  • 116 U.S. 80 (1885)


    Supreme Court of United States.

    Argued November 20, 1885.
    Decided December 14, 1885.

    *92 Mr. W.W. Montgomery for appellant.

    Mr. Frank H. Miller and Mr. Daniel Lord, Jr., for appellee.

    MR. JUSTICE MATTHEWS delivered the opinion of the court.

    There is nothing in the Revised Statutes, § 763, providing an appeal in cases of habeas corpus to the Circuit Court from the final decision of the District Court, or the judge thereof, which requires it to be taken, as in ordinary cases at law or suits in equity or admiralty, to the next term of the Circuit Court thereafter to be held. On the contrary, the subject is regulated otherwise by § 765 Rev. Stat., which enacts, that "the appeals allowed by the two preceding sections shall be taken on such terms, and under such regulations and orders, as well for the custody and appearance of the person alleged to be in prison or confined or restrained of his liberty, as for sending up to the appellate tribunal a transcript of the petition, writ of habeas corpus, return thereto, and other proceedings, as may be prescribed by the Supreme Court, or, in default thereof, by the court or judge hearing the cause." This statutory provision *93 evidently contemplates the summary character of proceedings under the writ of habeas corpus as not admitting, in favor of the liberty of the citizen, the delays usually and necessarily attending ordinary litigations between parties, and confers upon the judicial tribunal, or the judge hearing the application and making the order which is the subject of the appeal, discretion to send up the case to the appellate tribunal, under such regulations and orders as may seem best adapted to secure the speediest and most effective justice. This harmoniously adapts the practice in direct appeals in such cases, under these sections of the Revised Statutes, to that exercised independently of these provisions, by means of the original writ of habeas corpus, with the aid of a writ of certiorari, to bring up the record of the proceedings to be reviewed. This form of appellate jurisdiction was declared by this court in Ex parte Yerger, 8 Wall. 85, to exist independently of the provisions for a direct appeal, now incorporated into the sections of the Revised Statutes above referred to; and it was exercised without regard to the beginning and ending of the terms of the appellate court, and in a summary manner. The appeal in the present case, from the judgment of the District Court to the Circuit Court, was therefore not heard prematurely, although it was lodged and disposed of at a term of the latter court which was current at the time the appeal was taken.

    In regard to the objection now taken that the hearing of the appeal was had before the Circuit Justice at Atlanta at chambers, and not at Savannah in open court, it is sufficient to say that the order to that effect was made without objection taken at the time, or afterwards, in the District or Circuit Court, or at the hearing before Justice Woods; that the appellant appeared at the time and place by counsel and was heard; that the arrangement was made for the convenience of the parties and to avoid delay; and that it does not seem to have involved any hardship or injustice to the party now complaining. The objection, if it could ever have been properly interposed and insisted on, cannot now be made for the first time. It comes too late.

    The other assignments of errors relate to the merits, and require a consideration of the limits of the jurisdiction of judicial *94 tribunals in cases of the extradition of fugitives from justice under the clause of the Constitution by which it is regulated.

    That constitutional provision declares that "a person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime." Art. IV., sec. 2, clause 2. There is no express grant to Congress of legislative power to execute this provision, and it is not, in its nature, self executing; but a contemporary construction, contained in the act of 1793, 1 Stat. 302, ever since continued in force, and now embodied in §§ 5278 and 5279 of the Revised Statutes, has established the validity of its legislation on the subject. "This duty of providing by law," said Chief Justice Taney, delivering the opinion of the court in Kentucky v. Denison, 24 How. 66, 104, "the regulations necessary to carry this compact into execution, from the nature of the duty and the object in view, was manifestly devolved upon Congress; for, if it was left to the States, each State might require different proof to authenticate the judicial proceeding upon which the demand was founded; and as the duty of the Governor of the State, where the fugitive was found, is, in such cases, merely ministerial, without the right to exercise either executive or judicial discretion, he could not lawfully issue a warrant to arrest an individual without a law of the State or of Congress to authorize it."

    It follows, however, that, whenever the executive of the State, upon whom such a demand has been made, by virtue of his warrant, causes the arrest for delivery of a person charged as a fugitive from the justice of another State, the prisoner is held in custody only under color of authority derived from the Con. stitution and laws of the United States, and is entitled to invoke the judgment of the judicial tribunals, whether of the State or the United States, by the writ of habeas corpus, upon the lawfulness of his arrest and imprisonment. The jurisdiction of the courts of the States is not excluded in such cases, as was adjudged by this court in the case of Robb v. Connolly, *95 111 U.S. 624, for, although the party is restrained of his liberty under color of authority derived from the laws of the United States, he is not in the custody of, or under restraint by, an officer of the United States.

    The act of Congress Rev. Stat. § 5278 makes it the duty of the executive authority of the State to which such person has fled to cause the arrest of the alleged fugitive from justice, whenever the executive authority of any State demands such person as a fugitive from justice, and produces a copy of an indictment found, or affidavit made, before a magistrate of any State, charging the person demanded with having committed a crime therein, certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate of the State from whence the person so charged has fled.

    It must appear, therefore, to the governor of the State to whom such a demand is presented, before he can lawfully comply with it, first, that the person demanded is substantially charged with a crime against the laws of the State from whose justice he is alleged to have fled, by an indictment or an affidavit, certified as authentic by the governor of the State making the demand; and, second, that the person demanded is a fugitive from the justice of the State the executive authority of which makes the demand.

    The first of these prerequisites is a question of law, and is always open upon the face of the papers to judicial inquiry, on an application for a discharge under a writ of habeas corpus. The second is a question of fact, which the governor of the State upon whom the demand is made must decide, upon such evidence as he may deem satisfactory. How far his decision may be reviewed judicially in proceedings in habeas corpus, or whether it is not conclusive, are questions not settled by harmonious judicial decisions, nor by any authoritative judgment of this court. It is conceded that the determination of the fact by the executive of the State in issuing his warrant of arrest, upon a demand made on that ground, whether the writ contains a recital of an express finding to that effect or not, must be regarded as sufficient to justify the removal until the presumption in its favor is overthrown by contrary proof. *96 Ex parte Reggel, 114 U.S. 642. Further than that it is not necessary to go in the present case.

    The objections taken in this proceeding to the sufficiency of the indictment, which were overruled both in the District and Circuit Courts, and which are still relied on here, are not well founded. The indictment itself is certified by the governor of New York to be authentic and to be duly authenticated, which is all that is required by the act of Congress. It charges a crime under and against the laws of that State. It is immaterial that it does not appear that a certified copy of such laws was furnished to the governor of Georgia. The statute does not require it, and the governor could have insisted, and it is to be presumed did insist, upon the production of whatever he deemed necessary or important properly to inform him on the subject. And the courts of the United States, to whose process the relator has appealed, take judicial notice of the laws of all the States.

    The indictment in question sufficiently charges the substance of a crime against the laws of New York. The objection to it, that it does not appear that the Bethlehem Iron Company, averred to be the owner of the property the subject of the larceny charged, is a person capable in law of such ownership, is not matter of law arising upon the face of the indictment, but can arise only at the trial upon the evidence, if the question should then be made. The averment in the indictment is the allegation of a fact which does not seem to be impossible in law, and is, therefore, traversable. The further objection, that the facts and circumstances, set out in the affidavits, as constituting the crime charged in the indictment, show that it is a crime in Georgia, and the possible subject of prosecution in that State under its laws, does not affect the question. These facts are, in brief, that the original taking of the bonds mentioned in the indictment is shown to have been in Georgia, whence they were brought into New York by the appellant, and there finally appropriated to his own use. If that be true, it is none the less true that the offence charged is also a crime in New York against its laws; and the State of Georgia may choose to waive the exercise of its jurisdiction *97 by surrendering the fugitive to answer to the laws of New York.

    On the question of fact, whether the appellant was a fugitive from the justice of the State of New York, there was direct and positive proof before the governor of Georgia, forming part of the record in this proceeding. There is no other evidence in the record which contradicts it. The appellant in his affidavit does not deny that he was in the State of New York about the date of the day laid in the indictment when the offence is alleged to have been committed, and states, by way of inference only, that he was not in that State on that very day; and the fact that he has not been within the State since the finding of the indictment is irrelevant and immaterial. To be a fugitive from justice, in the sense of the act of Congress regulating the subject under consideration, it is not necessary that the party charged should have left the State in which the crime is alleged to have been committed, after an indictment found, or for the purpose of avoiding a prosecution anticipated or begun, but simply that having within a State committed that which by its laws constitutes a crime, when he is sought to be subjected to its criminal process to answer for his offence, he has left its jurisdiction and is found within the territory of another.

    We find no error in the judgment of the Circuit Court, and the same is

    Affirmed; and it is directed that the order and judgment of the District Court, remanding the appellant to the custody of the respondent as the agent of the State of New York, be executed.