Missouri v. Lewis - 101 U.S. 22 (1879)
U.S. Supreme Court
Missouri v. Lewis, 101 U.S. 22 (1879)
Missouri v. Lewis
101 U.S. 22
1. The provision in the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which prohibits a state from denying to any person the equal protection of the laws contemplates the protection of persons and classes of persons against unjust discriminations by a state; it does not relate to territorial or municipal arrangements made for different portions of a state.
2. A state is not thereby prohibited from prescribing the jurisdiction of its several courts, either as to their territorial limits or the subject matter, amount, or finality of their respective judgments or decrees.
3. Each state has full power to make for municipal purposes political subdivisions of its territory and regulate their local government, including the constitution of courts, and the extent of their jurisdiction.
4. A state may establish one system of law in one portion of its territory and another system in another, provided always that it neither encroaches upon the proper jurisdiction of the United States nor abridges the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, nor deprives any person of his rights without due process of law, nor denies to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws in the same district.
5. By the Constitution and laws of Missouri, the Saint Louis Court of Appeals has exclusive jurisdiction in certain cases of all appeals from the circuit courts in Saint Louis and some adjoining counties; the Supreme Court has jurisdiction of appeals in like cases from the circuit courts of the remaining counties of the state. Held that this adjustment of appellate jurisdiction is not forbidden by anything contained in the said amendment.
This writ of error was brought by the state of Missouri on the relation of Frank J. Bowman to reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Missouri refusing to issue a mandamus to Edward A. Lewis, Charles S. Hayden, and Robert A. Bakewell, Judges of the Saint Louis Court of Appeals. The object of the mandamus was to compel the latter court to grant his application for an appeal to the said Supreme Court from a judgment of said court of appeals affirming a judgment of the Circuit Court of Saint Louis County removing Bowman, a resident of that county, from the practice of law in the state, he having by the verdict of a jury been found guilty upon charges preferred against him by the committee of prosecution of the bar association.
Wagner's Missouri Statutes, c. 12, p. 198, title "Attorneys at Law," contains the following provisions:
"SEC. 6. Any attorney or counselor at law who shall be guilty of any felony or infamous crime, or improperly retaining his client's money, or of any malpractice, deceit, or misdemeanor in his professional capacity, may be removed or suspended from practice upon charges exhibited and proceedings thereon had as herein after provided."
"SEC. 7. Such charges may be exhibited, and proceedings thereon had in the Supreme Court or in the circuit court of the county in which the offense shall have been committed or the accused resides."
"SEC. 8. The court in which such charges shall be exhibited shall fix a day for the hearing, allowing a reasonable time, and the clerk shall issue a citation accordingly, with a copy of the charges annexed, which may be served in any county in this state."
"SEC. 9. The copy of the charges and citation shall be served in the same manner as a declaration and summons in civil actions, a reasonable time before the return day thereof."
"SEC. 10. If the party served with citation shall fail to appear according to the command thereof, obedience may be enforced by attachment or the court may proceed ex parte."
"SEC. 11. If the charges allege a conviction for an indictable offense, the court shall, on the production of the record of conviction, remove the person so convicted or suspend him from practice for a limited time, according to the nature of the offense, without further trial. "
"SEC. 12. Upon charges other than in the last section specified, the court shall have power only to suspend the accused from practice until the facts shall be ascertained in the manner hereinafter prescribed."
"SEC. 13. If the charge be for an indictable offense and no indictment be found, or, being found, shall not be prosecuted to trial within six months, the suspension shall be discontinued, unless the delay be produced by the absence or procurement of the accused, in which case the suspension may be continued until a final decision."
"SEC. 14. The record of conviction or acquittal of any indictable offense shall in all cases be conclusive of the facts, and the court shall proceed thereon accordingly."
"SEC. 15. When the matter charged is not indictable, a trial of the facts alleged shall be had in the court in which the charges are pending, which trial shall be by a jury; or if the accused, being served with process, fail to appear, or appearing, does not require a jury, by the court."
"SEC. 16. In all cases of conviction, the court shall pronounce judgment of removal or suspension according to the nature of the facts found."
"SEC. 17. In all cases of a trial of charges in the circuit court, the defendant may except to any decision of the court and may prosecute an appeal or writ of error in all respects as in actions at law."
"SEC. 18. Every judgment or order of removal or suspension made in pursuance of this chapter by the Supreme Court or by any circuit court shall operate while it continues in force as a removal or suspension from practice in all the courts of this state."
The Constitution of Missouri adopted Oct. 30, 1875, contains the following provisions, art. 6, title "Judicial Department:"
"SEC. 1. The judicial power of the state, as to matters of law and equity, except as in this Constitution otherwise provided, shall be vested in a Supreme Court, the Saint Louis court of appeals, circuit courts, criminal courts, probate courts, county courts, and municipal corporation courts."
"SEC. 2. The Supreme Court, except in cases otherwise directed by this constitution, shall have appellate jurisdiction only, which shall be coextensive with the state, under the restrictions and limitations in this constitution provided."
"SEC. 3. The Supreme Court shall have a general superintending control over all inferior courts. It shall have power to issue
writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, and other remedial writs, and to hear and determine the same."
"SEC. 12. There is hereby established in the City of Saint Louis an appellate court, to be known as the Saint Louis Court of Appeals, the jurisdiction of which shall be coextensive with the City of Saint Louis, and the Counties of Saint Louis, Saint Charles, Lincoln, and Warren. Said court shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus, quo warranto, mandamus, certiorari, and other original remedial writs, and to hear and determine the same, and shall have a superintending control over all inferior courts of record in said counties. Appeals shall lie from the decisions of the Saint Louis Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, and writs of error may issue from the Supreme Court to said court, in the following cases only: in all cases where the amount in dispute, exclusive of costs, exceeds the sum of $2,500; in cases involving the construction of the Constitution of the United States or of this state; in cases where the validity of a treaty or statute of, or authority exercised under, the United States is drawn in question; in cases involving the construction of the revenue laws of this state, or the title of any office under this state; in cases involving title to real estate; in cases where a county or other political subdivision of this state or any state officer is a party, and in all cases of felony."
"SEC. 19. All cases which may be pending in the Supreme Court at Saint Louis at the time of the adoption of this constitution which, by its terms, would come within the find appellate jurisdiction of the Saint Louis Court of Appeals shall be certified and transferred to the Saint Louis Court of Appeals, to be heard and determined by said court."
"SEC. 21. Upon the adoption of this constitution and after the close of the next regular terms of the Supreme Court at Saint Louis and Saint Joseph, as now established by law, the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court at Saint Louis and Saint Joseph shall be vacated, and said clerks shall transmit to the clerk of the Supreme Court at Jefferson City all the books, records, documents, transcripts, and papers belonging to their respective offices except those required by sec. 19 of this article to be turned over to the Saint Louis Court of Appeals, and said records, documents, transcripts, and papers shall become part of the records, documents, transcripts, and papers of said Supreme Court at Jefferson City, and said court shall hear and determine all the cases thus transferred, as other cases."
"SEC. 27. . . . The Saint Louis Court of Appeals shall have
exclusive jurisdiction of all appeals from, and writs of error to, the Circuit Courts of Saint Charles, Lincoln, and Warren Counties, and the Circuit Court of Saint Louis County in special term, and all courts of record having criminal jurisdiction in said counties."
The statutes of Missouri provide that
"Every person aggrieved by any final judgment or decision of any circuit court in any civil case, including cases of contested elections, may make his appeal to the Supreme Court."
Act of Feb. 28, 1871; Wagn.Mo.Stat., sec. 9, p. 159.
"In all cases of final judgment rendered upon any indictment, an appeal to the Supreme Court [District Court] shall be allowed the defendant if applied for during the term at which such judgment is rendered."
Gen.Stat.Mo., c. 215, sec. 1.
The Act of Feb. 16, 1877, provides that
"SEC. 1. Every person aggrieved by any final judgment or decision of any circuit court or the Saint Louis Court of Appeals may make his appeal to the Supreme Court in any civil case."
Acts of Legislature of Missouri, session 1877.