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U.S. Supreme Court

Rosencrans v. United States, 165 U.S. 257 (1897)

Rosencrans v. United States

No. 522

Submitted January 11, 1897

Decided February 1, 1897

165 U.S. 257


Under the Act of July 20, 1892, c. 208, the grand jury in the Southern Division of the District of Montana had jurisdiction to find the indictment which forms the subject of discussion in this case; and, after such indictment had been found, the court had authority to remit it to the other division for trial.

Where Congress has expressly legislated in respect to a given matter, that express legislation must control in the absence of subsequent legislation equally express, and is not overthrown by any mere inferences or implications to be found in such subsequent legislation.

The indictment of a person employed in the postal service for secreting, embezzling or destroying a cheque or draft in a letter delivered to him as such agent need not give a full description of the cheque or draft; but it is sufficient to say that, the instrument having been destroyed, the grand jury is unable to give any further description than is found in the indictment.

The Act of February 22, 1889, 25 Stat. 676, 682, admitting Montana into the Union provided that the state should constitute one Judicial District, and that the sessions of the circuit and district courts of the United States should be held at Helena, in Lewis and Clarke County, that being the capital of the state. On July 20, 1892, the following act (c. 208) was passed, 27 Stat. 252:

"That the territory embraced within the following counties in the District of Montana, to-wit: Beaverhead County, Madison County, and the County of Silver Bow shall hereafter constitute and be known as the Southern Division of the District of Montana, and regular terms of the circuit and district courts of the United States for said district may be held at Butte City, Montana, on the first Tuesday in February and the first Tuesday in September of each year, and the said courts so sitting at Butte shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in all civil actions, pleas, or proceedings,

Page 165 U. S. 258

and in all prosecutions, informations, indictments, or other criminal or penal proceedings conferred by the general laws on the district and circuit courts of the United States, and where one or more defendants in any civil cause shall reside in said division, and one or more defendants to such cause shall reside out of said division, but in said district, then the plaintiff may institute his action either in the court having jurisdiction over the latter or in the said division. That this act shall not affect the jurisdiction, power, and authority of the court as to actions, prosecutions, and proceedings already begun and pending in said district, but the same will proceed as though this act had not been passed, except that the court shall have power, which it may exercise at discretion, to transfer to the court in said division such of said pending actions, prosecutions, and proceedings as might properly be begun therein under the provisions of this act."

On March 18, 1895, an indictment in five counts was presented in the circuit court charging the defendant with violating section 5467, Rev.Stat., which reads:

"Any person employed in any department of the postal service who shall secrete, embezzle, or destroy any letter, packet, bag, or mail of letters entrusted to him, or which shall come into his possession, and which was intended to be conveyed by mail, or carried or delivered by any mail carrier, mail messenger, route agent, letter carrier, or other person employed in any department of the postal service. . . . and which shall contain any . . . draft, check, warrant, . . . or any other article of value, or writing representing the same, . . . shall be punishable by imprisonment at hard labor for not less than one year nor more than five years."

The fourth count, upon which alone the defendant was found guilty, charged that on the 13th day of July, 1894, "in the State and District of Montana, and within the jurisdiction of this court," the defendant,

"a person employed in the postal service of the United States, to-wit, a railway postal clerk, . . . and in the discharge of the duties of that position on the Great Northern Railway, between the station of

Page 165 U. S. 259

Havre, in the County of Choteau, and the station of Kalispell, in the County of Flathead, in said State of Montana,"

did destroy a registered letter and the contents thereof, which letter had

"come into his possession as such railway postal clerk, and which was intended to be, and was then and there being, conveyed by United States mail, and which said registered letter had been deposited in the mail at the United States post office at Sacramento,"

directed to

"Mrs. Emilie Heistans Greitzer, Gasthaus etzel b. Einsedeln Ct. Schwizz, Schweizerland, which said registered letter contained a draft for fifty francs, D. O. Mills & Co., No. d.08250, on Paris, France, a more particular description of which is to the grand jurors aforesaid unknown."

The term of the Circuit Court for the District of Montana at which the grand jury was empaneled, and at which this indictment was presented, was held at the City of Butte, in the Southern division of the district. Thereafter, the defendant having been arrested, on motion of the United States district attorney, the indictment was remitted for trial to the term of court to be held at Helena, in Lewis and Clarke County, in the other division of the district. No objections to this transfer were made by the defendant. Trial being had, the jury found the defendant guilty, as heretofore stated, under the fourth count. A motion in arrest in which for the first time the question of jurisdiction was raised having been made and overruled, the defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for the term of one year, whereupon this writ of error was sued out.

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