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IN RE BONNER, 151 U. S. 242 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Bonner, 151 U.S. 242 (1894)

In re Bonner

No. 8, Original

Argued November 27-28, 1893

Decided January 15, 1894

151 U.S. 242


When a person accused of crime is convicted in a court of the United States and is sentenced by the court, under Rev.Stat. § 5356, to imprisonment for one year and the payment of a fine, the court is without jurisdiction to further adjudge that that imprisonment shall take place in a state penitentiary under Rev.Stat. § 5546, and the prisoner, if sentenced to be confined in a state penitentiary, is entitled to a writ of habeas corpus directing his discharge from the custody of the warden of the state penitentiary, but without prejudice to the right of the United States to take any lawful measures to have the petitioner sentenced in accordance with law upon the verdict against him.

Where a conviction is correct, and where the error or excess of jurisdiction is the ordering the prisoner to be confined in a penitentiary where the law does not allow the court to send him, there is no good reason why jurisdiction of the prisoner should not he reassumed by the court that imposed the sentence in order that its defect may be corrected. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 151 U. S. 243

The court discharging the prisoner in such case on habeas corpus should delay his discharge for such reasonable time as may be necessary to have him taken before the court where the judgment was rendered, in order that the defects in the former judgment for want of jurisdiction, which are the subjects of complaint, may be corrected.

The petitioner, John Bonner, a citizen of the United States, represents that he is now and has been since the 23d of May, 1893, unlawfully deprived of his liberty by one P. W. Madden, as warden of the penitentiary of Iowa situated in Anamosa, in that state. He sets forth as the cause of his restrain and detention that at the October term, 1892, of the United States Court for the Third Judicial Division of the Indian Territory, he was indicted for the larceny, in May previous, in the Chickasaw Nation, within the Indian Territory, of four head of cattle, of the value of fifty dollars, the property of one Robert Williams, who was not a member of any Indian tribe; that during that month, he was arraigned before the same court and pleaded not guilty to the indictment, and was tried and found guilty. The statute under which the indictment was found is contained in section 5356 of the Revised Statutes, and is as follows:

"Every person who, upon the high seas, or in any place under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, takes and carries away, with intent to steal or purloin, the personal goods of another shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment."

The court, by its judgment, sentenced the petitioner to imprisonment in the penitentiary at Anamosa, in the State of Iowa, for the term of one year, and to the payment of a fine of $1,000. It also added that the marshal of the court, to whose custody he was then committed, should safely keep and convey the petitioner, and deliver him to the custody of the warden of the penitentiary, who would receive and keep him in prison for the period of one year in execution of the sentence. The petitioner also sets forth that the warden of the penitentiary has no other authority to hold him than the said judgment and order of commitment.

The petitioner alleges that the said sentence and order of commitment are void; that the court was without power or jurisdiction under the law to render the judgment, and that he had applied to the United States judge of the Northern District of Iowa for a writ of habeas corpus to be released from confinement, and that the writ was denied to him. He chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 151 U. S. 244

therefore prays that this Court will issue the writ of habeas corpus to the said warden to appear before this Court and show what authority, if any, he has for restraining the petitioner of his liberty, and that upon final hearing he may be discharged.

An order was issued from this Court in October last to the warden to show cause why the writ should not be granted as prayed. The warden returns answer that he holds the prisoner by virtue of a warrant of commitment issued upon the judgment and sentence of the United States court as above stated, of which a copy is annexed to the petition, and that at the time of the petitioner's conviction and of the judgment and sentence, there was no penitentiary or jail suitable for the confinement of convicts, or available therefor, in the Indian Territory, and that the state penitentiary at Anamosa had been duly designated by the Attorney General, under section 5546 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, as the place of confinement for prisoners convicted of crime by that court, and that the order of the court for the confinement of the petitioner in that penitentiary under its sentence of imprisonment was in pursuance of that designation.

So much of section 5546 of the Revised Statutes as bears upon the question under consideration in this case is as follows:

"All persons who have been or who may hereafter be convicted of crime by any court of the United States whose punishment is imprisonment in a district or territory where, at the time of conviction, there may be no penitentiary or jail suitable for the confinement of convicts or available therefor shall be confined during the term for which they have been or may be sentenced in some suitable jail or penitentiary in a convenient state or territory, to be designated by the Attorney General, and shall be transported and delivered to the warden or keeper of such jail or penitentiary by the marshal of the district or territory where the conviction has occurred. "

Page 151 U. S. 254

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