Clawson v. United States
113 U.S. 143 (1885)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Clawson v. United States, 113 U.S. 143 (1885)

Clawson v. United States

Argued January 5, 1885

Decided January 19, 1885

113 U.S. 143

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE TERRITORY OF UTAH

Syllabus

A territorial statute which authorizes an appeal by a defendant in a criminal action from a final judgment of conviction, which provides that an appeal shall stay execution upon filing with the clerk a certificate of a judge that in his opinion there is probable cause for the appeal, and further provides that after conviction, a defendant who has appealed may be admitted to bail as of right when the judgment is for the payment of a fine only, and as matter of discretion in other cases, does not confer upon a defendant convicted and sentenced to pay a fine and be imprisoned the right, after appeal and filing of certificate of probable cause, to be admitted to bail except within the discretion of the court.

The appellant, having been found guilty by a jury in the District Court for the Third Judicial District of Utah, of the crimes of polygamy and unlawful cohabitation, charged in separate counts of the same indictment, was sentenced, on the conviction fox polygamy, to pay a fine of $500 and to be imprisoned for the term of three years and six months, and, on the conviction for unlawful cohabitation, to pay a fine of $300 and be imprisoned six months. From the whole of the judgment an appeal was taken to the supreme court of the territory, and the judge before whom the trial was had gave a certificate that in his opinion there was probable cause thereof. The appeal was perfected and the certificate was filed in the proper office.

The defendant thereupon applied to the court in which he was sentenced to be let to bail pending his appeal. The application was denied, the order reciting that

"The court being of the opinion that the defendant ought not to be admitted to bail after conviction and sentence unless some extraordinary reason therefor is shown, and there being no sufficient reason shown in this case, it is ordered that the motion and application for bail be and the same is hereby denied, and the defendant be remanded to the custody of the United States marshal."

The accused then sued out an original writ of habeas corpus from

Page 113 U. S. 144

the supreme court of the territory. In his petition therefor, he stated that he was then imprisoned and in the actual custody of the United States marshal for the territory at the penitentiary in the County of Salt Lake. He also averred that upon the denial of bail by the court in which he was tried, "he was remanded to the custody of said United States marshal, who from thenceforth has imprisoned and still imprisons him" under said order of commitment, which "is the sole and only cause and authority" for his "detention and imprisonment," that "his said imprisonment is illegal" in that "he has been and is able and now offers to give bail pending his appeal in such sum as the court may reasonably determine," and that

"as a matter of right and in the sound exercise of a legal discretion, the petitioner is entitled to bail pending the hearing and determination of said appeal."

The supreme court of the territory overruled the application for bail, and remanded the petitioner to the custody of the marshal. From that order the present appeal was prosecuted.

The statutes of Utah regulating bail are printed in the margin. *

Page 113 U. S. 146

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court. He recited the facts as above stated and continued:

By the laws of Utah regulating the mode of procedure in criminal cases, it is provided, among other things, that the defendant

Page 113 U. S. 147

in a criminal action may appeal to the supreme court of the territory from any order, made after judgment, affecting his substantial rights. Laws of Utah, 1878, Tit. VIII, c. 1, § 360. To that class belonged the order made by the court of original jurisdiction refusing bail and remanding the accused to the custody of the marshal. But no appeal was taken from that order. And as the accused sued out an original writ of habeas corpus from the supreme court of the territory, we cannot, upon the present appeal, consider whether the court of original jurisdiction properly interpreted the local statutes in holding that the accused "ought not to be admitted to bail, after conviction and sentence, unless some extraordinary reason therefor is shown." There is nothing before us for review except the order of the supreme court of the territory, which discloses nothing more than the denial of the application to it for bail and the remanding of the prisoner to the custody of the marshal. That order, in connection with the petition for habeas corpus, assuming all of the allegations of fact contained in it to be true, only raises the question whether, under the laws of the territory, the accused, upon perfecting his appeal and filing the required certificate of probable cause, was entitled, as matter of right and without further showing, to be let to bail pending his appeal from the judgment of conviction. Upon the part of the government, it is insisted that the court below had by the statute a discretion in the premises which, upon appeal, will not be reviewed.

By the laws of the territory, it is provided that

"An appeal to the supreme court from a judgment of conviction stays the execution of the judgment, upon filing with the clerk of the court in which the conviction was had a certificate of the judge of such court, or of a justice of the supreme court, that in his opinion there is probably cause for appeal, but not otherwise;"

also that if this certificate is filed,

"the sheriff must, if the defendant is in his custody, upon being served with a copy thereof, keep the defendant in his custody without executing the judgment, and detain him to abide the judgment on appeal."

Laws of Utah 1878, p. 138. Upon the subject of bail, the same laws provide that

"A defendant charged with an offense

Page 113 U. S. 148

punishable with death cannot be admitted to bail when the proof of his guilt is evident or the presumption thereof great;"

also that "if the charge is for any other offense, he may be admitted to bail before conviction as a matter of right;" further, that

"After conviction of an offense not punishable with death, a defendant who has appealed may be admitted to bail: 1, as a matter of right when the appeal is from a judgment imposing a fine only; 2, as a matter of discretion in all other cases;"

still further, that

"In the cases on which the defendant may be admitted to bail upon an appeal, the order admitting him to bail may be made by any magistrate having the power to issue a writ of habeas corpus."

Ib., pp. 142, 146.

These statutory provisions so clearly indicate the legislative intent that no room is left for interpretation. As the judgment did not impose upon the appellant a fine only, his admission to bail pending the appeal from that judgment was not a matter of right, but was distinctly committed by the statute to the discretion of the court of judge to whom the application for bail may be made. The exercise of that discretion is not expressly nor by necessary implication forbidden in cases in which the certificate of probable cause is granted, for, by the statute, that certificate only operated to suspend the execution of the judgment of conviction requiring the officer having the accused in charge to retain him in his own custody to abide the judgment on appeal. We do not mean to say that the granting of such a certificate is not a fact entitled to weight in the determination of an application for bail, but only that the statute does not make it so far conclusive of the question of bail as to prevent the court from considering every circumstance which should fairly and reasonable control or affect its discretion. Whether the supreme court of the territory abused its discretion in the present case is a question not presented by the record before us, for it does not contain any finding of facts, nor the evidence (if there was any apart from the record of the trial and of the proceedings upon the first application for bail) upon which the court below acted. Its judgment denying bail cannot, therefore, be reversed unless, as contended by appellant, the certificate of probable cause

Page 113 U. S. 149

necessarily carried with it the right to bail and deprived the court of all discretion in the premises. But that construction of the statute is not, we think, admissible.

At the argument, counsel for appellant laid stress upon the fact, averred in the last petition for habeas corpus, that the order committing him to the custody of the marshal had been executed by confining him at the penitentiary. The return of the officer is that the accused is in his custody under and by virtue of the order of commitment. It is not claimed that he is treated as a convict in the penitentiary, undergoing the sentence pronounced in pursuance of the judgment appealed from, but only that the officer uses that institution as a place for the confinement of the accused while the latter is in his custody. Whether that action of the officer be legal is a question that does not now arise, for the application to the supreme court of the territory for habeas corpus only raised the question of the right of the accused to be discharged on bail from all custody whatever, and the present appeal is from the order in that court refusing such discharge and remanding him to the custody of the marshal.

There is no error in the record, and the judgment is

Affirmed.

*

"Laws of Utah, 1878, Title VIII"

"SEC. 353. Either party in a criminal action may appeal to the Supreme Court on questions of law alone, as prescribed in this chapter."

"SEC. 360. An appeal may be taken by the defendant"

"1. From a final judgment of conviction;"

"2. From an order denying a motion for a new trial;"

"3. From an order made after judgment, affecting the substantial rights of the party."

"SEC. 362. An appeal from a judgment must be taken within one year after its rendition, and from an order within sixty days after it is made."

"SEC. 363. An appeal is taken by filing with the clerk of the court in which the judgment or order appealed from is entered or filed, a notice stating the appeal from the same, and serving a copy thereof upon the attorney of the adverse party."

"SEC. 366. An appeal to the Supreme Court from a judgment of conviction stays the execution of the judgment, upon filing with the clerk of the court in which the conviction was had, a certificate of the judge of such court, or of a justice of the Supreme Court, that in his opinion there is probably cause for the appeal, but not otherwise."

"SEC. 388. After conviction of an offense not punishable with death, a defendant who has appealed may be admitted to bail: 1, as a matter of right when the appeal is from a judgment imposing a fine only; 2, as a matter of discretion in all other cases."

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