Callan v. Wilson , 127 U.S. 540 ( 1888 )

  • 127 U.S. 540 (1888)


    No. 1318.

    Supreme Court of United States.

    Argued January 16, 1888.
    Decided May 14, 1888.

    *543 Mr. J.H. Ralston for appellant. Mr. Charles S. Moore was with him on the brief.

    Mr. Assistant Attorney General Maury for appellee.

    *547 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, after stating the case as above reported, delivered the opinion of the court.

    It is contended by the appellant that the Constitution of the United States secured to him the right to be tried by a jury, and, that right having been denied, the police court was without jurisdiction to impose a fine upon him, or to order him to be imprisoned until such fine was paid. This precise question is now, for the first time, presented for determination by this court. If the appellant's position be sustained, it will follow that the statute, (Rev. Stat. Dist. Col. § 1064,) dispensing with a petit jury, in prosecutions by information in the police court, is inapplicable to cases like the present one.

    The third article of the Constitution provides that "the trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury, and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed." The Fifth Amendment *548 provides that no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." By the Sixth Amendment it is declared that "in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence."

    The contention of the appellant is, that the offence with which he is charged is a "crime" within the meaning of the third article of the Constitution, and that he was entitled to be tried by a jury; that his trial by the police court, without a jury, was not "due process of law" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment; and that, in any event, the prosecution against him was a "criminal prosecution," in which he was entitled, by the Sixth Amendment, to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.

    The contention of the government is, that the Constitution does not require that the right of trial by jury shall be secured to the people of the District of Columbia; that the original provision, that when a crime was not committed within any State "the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed," had, probably, reference only to offences committed on the high seas; that, in adopting the Sixth Amendment, the people of the States were solicitous about trial by jury in the States and nowhere else, leaving it entirely to Congress to declare in what way persons should be tried who might be accused of crime on the high seas, and in the District of Columbia and in places to be thereafter ceded for the purposes, respectively, of a seat of government, forts, magazines, arsenals, and dock-yards; and, consequently, that that Amendment should be deemed to have superseded so much of the third article of the Constitution as relates to the trial of crimes by a jury.

    Upon a careful examination of this position we are of opinion *549 that it cannot be sustained without violence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

    The third article of the Constitution provides for a jury in the trial of "all crimes, except in cases of impeachment." The word "crime," in its more extended sense, comprehends every violation of public law; in a limited sense, it embraces offences of a serious or atrocious character. In our opinion, the provision is to be interpreted in the light of the principles which, at common law, determined whether the accused, in a given class of cases, was entitled to be tried by a jury. It is not to be construed as relating only to felonies, or offences punishable by confinement in the penitentiary. It embraces as well some classes of misdemeanors, the punishment of which involves or may involve the deprivation of the liberty of the citizen. It would be a narrow construction of the Constitution to hold that no prosecution for a misdemeanor is a prosecution for a "crime" within the meaning of the third article, or a "criminal prosecution" within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment. And we do not think that the amendment was intended to supplant that part of the third article which relates to trial by jury. There is no necessary conflict between them. Mr. Justice Story says that the amendment, "in declaring that the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State or district wherein the crime shall have been committed, (which district shall be previously ascertained by law,) and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, and to be confronted with the witnesses against him, does but follow out the established course of the common law in all trials for crimes." Story on the Constitution, § 1791. And as the guarantee of a trial by jury, in the third article, implied a trial in that mode and according to the settled rules of the common law, the enumeration, in the Sixth Amendment, of the rights of the accused in criminal prosecutions, is to be taken as a declaration of what those rules were, and is to be referred to the anxiety of the people of the States to have in the supreme law of the land, and so far as the agencies of the General Government were concerned, a full and distinct recognition of those *550 rules, as involving the fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property. This recognition was demanded and secured for the benefit of all the people of the United States, as well those permanently or temporarily residing in the District of Columbia, as those residing or being in the several States. There is nothing in the history of the Constitution or of the original amendments to justify the assertion that the people of this District may be lawfully deprived of the benefit of any of the constitutional guarantees of life, liberty, and property — especially of the privilege of trial by jury in criminal cases. In the Draft of a Constitution reported by the Committee of Five on the 6th of August, 1787, in the convention which framed the Constitution, the 4th section of article XI read that "the trial of all criminal offences (except in cases of impeachment) shall be in the States where they shall be committed; and shall be by jury." 1 Elliott's Deb., 2d ed., 229. But that article was, by unanimous vote, amended so as to read: "The trial of all crimes (except in cases of impeachment) shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, then the trial shall be at such place or places as the legislature may direct." Id. 270. The object of thus amending the section, Mr. Madison says, was "to provide for trial by jury of offences committed out of any State." 3 Madison Papers, 144. In Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 154, it was taken for granted that the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution secured to the people of the Territories the right of trial by jury in criminal prosecutions; and it had been previously held in Webster v. Reid, 11 How. 437, 460, that the Seventh Amendment secured to them a like right in civil actions at common law. We cannot think that the people of this District have, in that regard, less rights than those accorded to the people of the Territories of the United States.

    It is next insisted that the constitutional guarantee of trial by jury in all criminal prosecutions — even supposing it to exist for the people of the District — has not been denied. Passing by so much of the argument as rests upon the slight *551 difference in phraseology between the third article and the Sixth Amendment — the former declaring that the trial of all crimes "shall be" by jury, and the latter that the accused shall "enjoy the right" to trial in that mode — we come to the consideration of the main proposition advanced, on behalf of the government, upon this branch of the case. It is this: That the requirements of the Constitution are fully met, where the accused is accorded, at some stage of the prosecution against him, the right of trial by jury. Such right, it is argued, is sufficiently recognized in the following sections of the Revised Statutes of the District of Columbia, defining and regulating the power and jurisdiction of the police court:

    "SEC. 1073. Any party deeming himself aggrieved by the judgment of the police court may appeal to the Supreme Court.

    "SEC. 1074. In all appeals the party applying for appeal shall enter into recognizance, with sufficient surety to be approved by the judge, for his appearance at the criminal term of the Supreme Court then in session, or at the next term thereof if the criminal term be not then in session, there to prosecute the appeal and to abide by the judgment of the Supreme Court.

    "SEC. 1075. Upon such recognizance being given all further proceedings in police court shall be stayed."

    "SEC. 1077. Upon the failure of any party appealing from the judgment of the police court to the Supreme Court to enter into recognizance, as provided for in section ten hundred and seventy-four, he shall be committed to jail to await his trial upon his appeal, and the trial shall be had in the Supreme Court as though such recognizance had been entered into."

    "SEC. 773. Appeals from the police court shall be tried on the information filed in the court below, certified to Supreme Court, by a jury in attendance thereat, as though the case had originated therein, and the judgment in the Supreme Court shall be final in the case."

    These provisions, undoubtedly, secure the right of appeal from the police court to the Supreme Court of the District, and a trial by jury in the latter court. But the fact remains *552 that the accused may, under the statute, be tried in the court of original jurisdiction, upon the issue of guilt or innocence; and by its judgment, unless he gives security for his appearance in another court, he may be deprived of his liberty. The police court is not, in such cases, an examining court merely, but a trial court, in the fullest sense of those words.

    According to many adjudged cases, arising under constitutions which declare, generally, that the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, there are certain minor or petty offences that may be proceeded against summarily, and without a jury; and, in respect to other offences, the constitutional requirement is satisfied if the right to a trial by jury in an appellate court is accorded to the accused. Byers v. Commonwealth, 42 Penn. St. 89, 94, affords an illustration of the first of the above classes. It was there held that while the founders of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania brought with them to their new abode the right of trial by jury, and while that mode of trial was considered the right of every Englishman, too sacred to be surrendered or taken away, "summary convictions for petty offences against statutes were always sustained, and they were never supposed to be in conflict with the common-law right to a trial by jury." So, in State v. Glenn, 54 Maryland, 572, 600, 605, it was said that "in England, notwithstanding the provision in the Magna Charta of King John, art. 46, and in that of 9 Hen. 3, c. 29, which declares that no freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, or condemned, `but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land,' it has been the constant course of legislation in that kingdom, for centuries past, to confer summary jurisdiction upon justices of the peace for the trial and conviction of parties for minor and statutory police offences... . And when it is declared that the party is entitled to a speedy trial by an impartial jury, that must be understood as referring to such crimes and accusations as have, by the regular course of the law and the established modes of procedure, as theretofore practised, been the subjects of jury trial. It could never have been intended to embrace every species of accusation involving either criminal or penal consequences." So, also, in New *553 Jersey, where the constitution guaranteed that "the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate," the court said: "Extensive and summary police powers are constantly exercised in all the States of the Union for the repression of breaches of the peace and petty offences, and these statutes are not supposed to conflict with the constitutional provisions securing to the citizen a trial by jury... . This constitutional provision does not prevent the enforcement of the by-laws of a municipal corporation without a jury trial." McGear v. Woodruff, 4 Vroom, 213, 217. In State v. Conlin, 27 Vermont, 318, 323, the court sustains the right of the legislature to provide for the punishment of minor offences, having reference to the internal police of the State, "with fine only, or imprisonment in the county jail for a brief and limited period." See, also, Williams v. Augusta, 4 Georgia, 509.

    The doctrines of many of the cases are thus summarized by Mr. Dillon in his work on Municipal Corporations (Vol. I, § 433): "Violations of municipal by-laws proper, such as fall within the description of municipal police regulations, as, for example, those concerning markets, streets, water-works, city officers, etc., and which relate to acts and omissions that are not embraced in the general criminal legislation of the State, the legislature may authorize to be prosecuted in a summary manner, by and in the name of the corporation, and need not provide for a trial by jury. Such acts and omissions are not crimes or misdemeanors to which the constitutional right of trial by jury extends."

    The same author says, in respect to the other class of cases above referred to: "It is, however, the prevailing doctrine, that although the charge or matter in the municipal or local courts be one in respect of which the party is entitled to a trial by jury, yet if by an appeal, clogged with no unreasonable restrictions, he can have such a trial as a matter of right in the appellate court, this is sufficient, and his constitutional right to a jury trial is not invaded by the summary proceedings in the first instance." Vol. I, § 439. See also City of Emporia v. Volmer, 12 Kansas, 622, 630. Perhaps the strongest expressions, in this direction, are to be found in Jones *554 v. Robbins, 8 Gray, 329, 341, in which it was said, on behalf of the majority of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts: "And we believe it has been generally understood and practised here and in Maine, and perhaps in other States having a similar provision, that as the object of the clause is to secure a benefit to the accused, which he may avail himself of or waive, at his own election; and as the purpose of the provision is to secure the right, without directing the mode in which it shall be enjoyed; it is not violated by an act of legislation, which authorizes a single magistrate to try and pass sentence, provided the act contains a provision that the party shall have an unqualified and unfettered right of appeal, and a trial by jury in the appellate court, subject only to the common liability to give bail, or to be committed to jail, to insure his appearance and to abide the judgment of the court appealed to."

    Somewhat different views have been expressed by the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York. Charles A. Dana having been charged by information in the Police Court of the District of Columbia with having published a libel, and having been arrested in New York, the warrant to authorize his being brought here was refused and he was discharged, upon the ground that, if brought to this District, he would be tried in a manner forbidden by the Constitution. Mr. Justice Blatchford said In re Dana, 7 Benedict, 14: "Even if it were to be conceded that notwithstanding the provision in the Constitution, that `the trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury,' Congress has the right to provide for the trial, in the District of Columbia, by a court without a jury, of such offences as were, by the laws and usages in force at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, triable without a jury, it is a matter of history, that the offence of libel was always triable, and tried, by a jury. It is, therefore, one of the crimes which must, under the Constitution, be tried by a jury. The act of 1870 provides that the information in this case shall not be tried by a jury, but shall be tried by a court. It is true that it gives to the defendant, after judgment, if he deems himself *555 aggrieved thereby, the right to appeal to another court, where the information must be tried by a jury. But this does not remove the objection. If Congress has the power to deprive the defendant of his right to a trial by jury, for one trial, and to put him, if convicted, to an appeal to another court, to secure a trial by jury, it is difficult to see why it may not also have the power to provide for several trials by a court, without a jury, on several successive convictions, before allowing a trial by a jury. In my judgment, the accused is entitled, not to be first convicted by a court and then to be acquitted by a jury, but to be convicted or acquitted in the first instance by a jury."

    Without further reference to the authorities, and conceding, that there is a class of petty or minor offences, not usually embraced in public criminal statutes, and not of the class or grade triable at common law by a jury, and which, if committed in this District, may, under the authority of Congress, be tried by the court and without a jury, we are of opinion that the offence with which the appellant is charged does not belong to that class. A conspiracy such as is charged against him and his codefendants is by no means a petty or trivial offence. "The general rule of the common law," the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts said in Commonwealth v. Hunt, 4 Met. 111, 121, "is, that it is a criminal and indictable offence, for two or more to confederate and combine together, by concerted means, to do that which is unlawful or criminal, to the injury of the public, or portions or classes of the community, or even to the rights of an individual." In State v. Burnham, 15 N.H. 396, 401, it was held that "combinations against law or against individuals are always dangerous to the public peace and to public security. To guard against the union of individuals to effect an unlawful design is not easy, and to detect and punish them is often extremely difficult." Hawkins, in discussing the nature of conspiracies as offences against public justice, and referring especially to the statute of 21 Edw. Ch. I, relating to confederacies to procure the indictment of an innocent person, says that "notwithstanding the injury intended to the party against whom such *556 a confederacy is formed may perhaps be inconsiderable, yet the association to pervert the law, in order to procure it, seems to be a crime of a very high nature, and justly to deserve the resentment of the law." 1 Hawk. P.C. c. 72, § 3. So in Regina v. Parnell, 14 Cox C.C. 508, 514, it was observed that an "agreement to effect an injury or wrong to another by two or more persons is constituted an offence, because the wrong to be effected by a combination assumes a formidable character. When done by one alone it is but a civil injury, but it assumes a formidable or aggravated character when it is to be effected by the powers of the combination." Tomlin says that "the word conspiracy was formerly used almost exclusively for an agreement of two or more persons falsely to indict one, or to procure him to be indicted, of felony," but that "now it is no less commonly used for the unlawful combinations of journeymen to raise their wages, or to refuse working, except on certain stipulated conditions." Toml. Law Dict., Title Conspiracy. See, also, Commonwealth v. Carlisle, Brightly (Penn.), 40; 3 Whart. Crim. Law, § 1337 et seq., 8th ed.; 2 Archibold's Cr. Pr. & Pl. (Pomeroy's ed.) 1830, note.

    These authorities are sufficient to show the nature of the crime of conspiracy at common law. It is an offence of a grave character, affecting the public at large, and we are unable to hold that a person charged with having committed it in this District is not entitled to a jury, when put upon his trial. The jurisdiction of the Police Court, as defined by existing statutes, does not extend to the trial of infamous crimes or offences punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary. But the argument, made in behalf of the government, implies that if Congress should provide the Police Court with a grand jury, and authorize that court to try, without a petit jury, all persons indicted — even for crimes punishable by confinement in the penitentiary — such legislation would not be an invasion of the constitutional right of trial by jury, provided the accused, after being tried and sentenced in the Police Court, is given an unobstructed right of appeal to, and trial by jury in, another court to which the case may be taken. We cannot assent to that interpretation of the Constitution. *557 Except in that class or grade of offences called petty offences, which, according to the common law, may be proceeded against summarily in any tribunal legally constituted for that purpose, the guarantee of an impartial jury to the accused in a criminal prosecution, conducted either in the name, or by or under the authority of, the United States, secures to him the right to enjoy that mode of trial from the first moment, and in whatever court, he is put on trial for the offence charged. In such cases a judgment of conviction, not based upon a verdict of guilty by a jury, is void. To accord to the accused a right to be tried by a jury, in an appellate court, after he has been once fully tried otherwise than by a jury, in the court of original jurisdiction, and sentenced to pay a fine or be imprisoned for not paying it, does not satisfy the requirements of the Constitution. When, therefore, the appellant was brought before the Supreme Court of the District, and the fact was disclosed that he had been adjudged guilty of the crime of conspiracy charged in the information in this case, without ever having been tried by a jury, he should have been restored to his liberty.

    For the reasons stated,

    The judgment is reversed, and the cause remanded with directions to discharge the appellant from custody.