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RICE V. AMES, 180 U. S. 371 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rice v. Ames, 180 U.S. 371 (1901)

Rice v. Ames

No. 420

Submitted December 17, 1900

Decided February 28, 1901

180 U.S. 371


An appeal lies directly to this Court from a judgment of the district court in a habeas corpus case where the constitutionality of a law of the United States, or the validity or construction of a treaty is drawn in question.

A complaint before a commissioner in a foreign extradition case, if made solely upon information and belief, is bad, but it need not be made upon the personal knowledge of the complainant if he annex to such complaint a copy of the indictment found in the foreign country, or the deposition of a witness having personal knowledge of the facts, taken under the statute.

Where the first count of a complaint charged the offense solely upon information and belief, and the subsequent counts purported on their face to aver offenses within the personal knowledge of complainant, it was held that the insufficiency of the first count did not impair the sufficiency of the others, and that the complaint vested jurisdiction in the commissioner to issue his warrant.

Continuances of the examination may be granted in the discretion of the commissioner, and, in this particular, he is not controlled by a state statute limiting such continuances to ten days.

The act of Congress authorizing Circuit Courts to appoint commissioners is constitutional.

This was an appeal by Fred Lee Rice, Frank Rutledge, and Thomas Jones from an order of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, denying their application for a discharge upon a writ of habeas corpus, the object of which writ was to test the validity of certain proceedings against the appellants, taken before a commissioner for that district specially authorized to take jurisdiction of proceedings for the extradition of persons charged with crimes, under treaties with foreign governments.

The proceedings before the commissioner are set forth in a bill of exceptions signed by the district judge. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 180 U. S. 372

The first warrant for the arrest of the appellants was issued June 2, 1900, upon complaint made upon information and belief, by "a police officer of the City of Chicago" and an affidavit of a police detective of the City of Toronto, Canada, also upon information and belief, charging defendants with sundry crimes committed both at Aurora and at Toronto, in the province of Ontario. Pursuant to this warrant, appellants were taken by the respondent, Ames, as United States marshal, out of the custody of the city police, by whom they had been arrested the day before, and brought before the commissioner. Proceedings were adjourned until June 4, when the case was dismissed, and a new warrant issued upon the complaint of Albert Cuddy, police detective of the City of Toronto, also upon information and belief. Defendants moved to quash this complaint and warrant by reason of the fact that the complaint was made upon information and belief, which was denied, and the proceedings adjourned until June 14. Defendants were committed for further hearing. Upon that day, it appearing that the proceedings had been taken only for the purpose of provisional apprehension and detention, the case was dismissed, and a new and final complaint made by William Greer, a government detective for the Province of Ontario, duly authorized by the Attorney General of the province to act as the agent of the government in the prosecution of extradition proceedings.

This complaint contained four counts, the first of which charged the defendants, upon information and belief, with stealing from the post office building in the Town of Aurora a quantity of Canadian postage stamps, $55 in money, and certain certificates in mining stock. The other three counts, in which the charge was made absolutely, and not upon information and belief, charged the defendants first with stealing a horse, cart, and harness, second with breaking and entering a private bank in the Town of Aurora with intent to steal and also with the larceny of certain money in the bank, and third with breaking into a shop on Queen Street, in the City of Toronto. A new warrant was issued upon this complaint, and the examination adjourned until June 25, at which time defendants were brought before the commissioner and motion made for their discharge chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 180 U. S. 373

for want of jurisdiction and for insufficiency of the complaint. This motion being denied, the case went to a hearing upon certain documents certified by the American consul, and a large number of depositions of witnesses which were not sent up with the record. The examination was continued for several days, and finally, upon July 10, the commissioner found there was probable cause to believe the defendants guilty and ordered them to stand committed to await the action of the proper authorities.

Whereupon, and upon the same day, petitioners sued out this writ of habeas corpus from the district court, and from the order of that court denying their discharge, they took an appeal directly to this Court.

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