Pettibone v. United States
148 U.S. 197 (1893)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pettibone v. United States, 148 U.S. 197 (1893)

Pettibone v. United States

No. 1241

Argued February 1-2, 1893

Decided March 6, 1893

148 U.S. 197

Syllabus

In a prosecution for conspiracy corruptly and by threats and force to obstruct the due administration of justice in a circuit court of the United States, the combination of minds for the unlawful purpose and the overt act in effectuation of that purpose must appear charged in the indictment.

A conspiracy is sufficiently described as a combination of two or more persons, by concerted action, to accomplish a criminal or unlawful purpose or some purpose not in itself criminal or unlawful by criminal or unlawful means.

When the criminality of a conspiracy consists in an unlawful agreement of two or more persons to compass or promote some criminal or illegal purpose, that purpose must be fully and clearly stated in the indictment, while if the criminality of the offense consists in the agreement to accomplish a purpose not in itself criminal or unlawful by criminal or unlawful means, the means must be set out.

An indictment against a person for corruptly or by threats or force endeavoring to influence, intimidate, or impede a witness or officer in a court of the United States in the discharge of his duty must charge knowledge or notice, or set out facts that show knowledge or notice, on the part of the accused that the witness or officer was such.

A person is not sufficiently charged in such case with obstructing or impeding the due administration of justice in a court unless it appear that he knew or had notice that justice was being administered in such court.

Plaintiffs in error were indicted under sections 5399 and 5440 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, the latter as amended by the Act of May 17, 1879, 21 Stat. 4, c. 8, which are as follows:

"SEC. 5399. Every person who corruptly or by threats or force endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any witness or officer in any court of the United States in the discharge of his duty or corruptly or by threats or force obstructs or impedes or endeavors to obstruct or impede the due administration of justice therein shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment not more than three months, or both. "

Page 148 U. S. 198

"SEC. 5440. If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States or to defraud the United States in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such parties do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, all the parties to such conspiracy shall be liable to a penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for not more than two years, or to both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court."

The indictment alleged that on May 28, 1892, suit was commenced in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Idaho wherein the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company was complainant, and the Miners' Union of Wardener and others were defendants; that a writ of injunction was duly and regularly issued therein by the court, directed to plaintiffs in error and many others as defendants, which writ of injunction was set out in full in the indictment, and ordered as follows:

"In the meantime, and until the further order of this court herein, the said defendants, and each of them, their aiders, attorneys, officers, agents, servants, and employees be and they are hereby severally restrained and enjoined from in any manner interfering with the complainant herein in any of its work in and upon or about its said mining claims, to-wit, the Bunker Hill, the Sullivan, and the Small Hopes Lodge mining claims, mentioned in the complaint herein, or in any part thereof, and from in any manner, by force or threats or otherwise, making any attempts to intimidate any employee of the complainant herein, or from attempting to prevent, by any force or intimidation, any employee of the said complainant from proceeding to work for the said complainant in a peaceful, quiet, and lawful manner in and upon any part of the aforesaid mines or mining claims or in or upon any works of the said complainant therein or thereabouts, or at all, and that they, the said parties aforesaid, be, and they are hereby, further enjoined from intimidating or threatening or by any force, threats or any intimidation trying to prevent any employee of the complainant herein from working in or upon the aforesaid mines mentioned in the complaint herein, or at the

Page 148 U. S. 199

mills of complainant, or in or upon any mining or other property of complainant, or from preventing anyone from entering the service of the complainant herein or in any unlawful manner interfering with the business of said complainant in employing persons to work upon its said property, or from going upon any part of the said complainant's property without permission from the complainant or its agents or employees so to do or in any manner entering upon the works of the complainant, or within the buildings of the complainant without its consent or the consent of its managers, agents, or employees, and reference is hereby had to the bill of complaint herein, to which your attention is hereby directed, until the further order of this Court, or the judge thereof, and the foregoing restraining order is also directed against the agents, servants, aiders, abettors, members, and associates of the defendants or either of them."

The indictment thereupon averred that the defendants, on July 11, 1892, and while the writ of injunction was in full force and effect,

"at Shoshone County, within the Northern Division of the District of Idaho aforesaid, did unlawfully, corruptly, fraudulently, and feloniously conspire, combine, confederate, and agree together to commit an offense against the United States as follows, to-wit,' said defendants did, then and there, 'unlawfully, corruptly, fraudulently, and feloniously conspire, combine, confederate, and agree together to intimidate, by force and threats of violence, the employees of the said Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company, then working in and upon the mines of the said company and within and around the mill and other buildings of the said company in said Shoshone County, said mines, mill, and other buildings of said company being then and there the mines, mill, and other buildings mentioned and described in said writ of injunction, with the intent then and thereby on the part of the said"

defendants (naming them)

"to compel the employees of the said Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company to abandon their work in and upon the mines, mill, and other buildings of the said mining company last mentioned;"

that the defendants

"did

Page 148 U. S. 200

then and there further unlawfully, fraudulently, corruptly, and feloniously conspire, combine, confederate, and agree together to intimidate, by force and threats of violence, the officers and agents of the said Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company, with the intent then and there and thereby, by means of said force and threats of violence, to compel the officers and agents of said mining company to discharge and dismiss from the employ of the said mining company all employees (other than such persons as were members of what is called the 'Miners' Union') who were working either upon or within the mines of the said company and in the said company's mill and other buildings, which said last-mentioned mines, mill, and other buildings are the mines, mill, and other buildings mentioned and described in the aforesaid writ of injunction issued out of the said United States circuit court."

The indictment further averred that on July 12, 1892, the defendants, while the writ of injunction was in full force and effect, and the suit in which the writ issued was still pending and undetermined,

"in aid of, and in furtherance of, and for the purpose of effecting the object of, the said unlawful and malicious combination and conspiracy, formed and entered into as aforesaid, and for the purpose and object aforesaid, did on the said 12th day of July, 1892 at the county and state aforesaid, unlawfully, fraudulently, corruptly, willfully, and feloniously, by force and violence and threats of violence, intimidate and compel the employees of the said Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company, then and there working, in and upon the mines of the said company, and within and around the mill, property, and other buildings, all the property of said company, to cease and abandon work in and upon the mines and within and around the mill, property, and other buildings of said company, said mines, mill, and other buildings of said company being then and there the same mines, mill, property, and buildings mentioned and described in said writ of injunction, and said employees being then and there in the employ of said company, and did then and there, unlawfully, corruptly, fraudulently, willfully, and feloniously, compel

Page 148 U. S. 201

and force the said employees, by the intimidation and violence and threats of violence aforesaid, to abandon and leave and cease their said employment under said company, and their work in and upon the mines, mill, and other buildings of the said mining company last mentioned."

And the defendants did, by intimidation and violence and threats of force and violence, intimidate and compel the officers and agents of said Bunker Hill Company, against their will and consent, to discharge and dismiss from the service and employment of the company all its employees other than such persons as were members of what was called the "Miners' Union," who were then working in and upon the property of the company.

"And so the grand jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do charge and say that the said" defendants (naming them),

"at the said Shoshone County, within the said Northern Division of the District of Idaho, did, on the 11th day of July, 1892, unlawfully, willfully, fraudulently, and feloniously conspire, combine, confederate, and agree together to commit an offense against the United States, to-wit, to corruptly, and by force and threats, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice in the aforesaid United States circuit court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, District of Idaho, and did thereafter, on the 12th day of July, 1892, in pursuance of said unlawful and malicious combination and conspiracy, unlawfully, willfully and feloniously, in the manner and form aforesaid, corruptly, and by force and threats of violence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice in the aforesaid United States circuit court. All of which is contrary to the form, force, and effect of the United States statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States."

Motions to quash and demurrers were filed and overruled, and, after verdict, motions in arrest were made and denied. Plaintiffs in error were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in the Detroit House of Correction, George A. Pettibone, for 2 years, John Murphy, for 15 months, and M. L. Devine and C. Sinclair, for 18 months each.

This writ of error was thereupon allowed.

Page 148 U. S. 202

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