U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Pridgeon, 153 U.S. 48 (1894)
United States v. Pridgeon
Submitted March 13, 1891
Decided April 18, 1894
153 U.S. 48
On November 12, 1890, in the Indian Country, within the boundaries of Oklahoma Territory, as defined by the Act of May 2, 1890, c. 182, 26 Stat. 81, horse stealing was not a crime against the United States punishable under the Act of February 15, 1888, c. 10, 25 Stat. 33, but as to the Cherokee Outlet it remained Indian Country after the passage of the Act of Way 2, 1890, and such an offense, committed there, continued to be an offense against the United States.
An indictment in the District Court of the United States within and for Logan County in Oklahoma Territory, and for the Indian Country attached thereto, charging the commission of the offense of horse stealing in November, 1890, and laying the venue of the offense "at and within that chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
part of the Territory of Oklahoma attached for judicial purposes to Logan County," with a description of territory, which included part of Oklahoma and part of the Cherokee Outlet not in Oklahoma, and which averred the same to be "then and there Indian Country, and a place then and there under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States of America," will not be held to be fatally defective when attacked collaterally by writ of habeas corpus.
Under a writ of habeas corpus, the inquiry is not addressed to errors, but to the question whether the proceedings and judgment are nullities, and unless it appears that the judgment or sentence under which the prisoner is confined is void, he is not entitled to his discharge.
Where a court has jurisdiction of the person and the offense, the imposition of a sentence in excess of what the law permits does not render the legal or authorized portion of the sentence void, but only leaves such part of it as may be in excess open to question and attack.
In accordance with this principle, the court answers the third question certified in the negative, without expressing an opinion as to what would have been the proper action of the circuit court in dealing with the prisoner's application.
The case is stated in the opinion.