Geer v. Connecticut
161 U.S. 519 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Geer v. Connecticut, 161 U.S. 519 (1896)

Geer v. Connecticut

No. 87

Argued November 22, 1895

Decided March 2, 1896

161 U.S. 519

Syllabus

The provision in the General Statutes of Connecticut (Revision of 1888, § 2546) that

"no person shall at any time kill any woodcock, rued grouse or quail for the purpose of conveying the same beyond the limits of this State, or shall transport or have in possession, with intent to procure the transportation beyond said limits, any of such birds killed within this State"

is legislation which it is within the constitution power of the legislature of the state to enact.

The General Statutes of the State of Connecticut provide (Sec. 2530, Revision 1888):

"Every person who shall buy, sell, expose for sale, or have in his possession for the purpose, or who shall hunt, pursue, kill, destroy or attempt to kill any woodcock, quail, ruffled grouse, called partridge, or gray squirrel between the first day of January and the first day of October, the killing or having in possession of each bird or squirrel to be deemed a separate offense, . . . shall be fined not more than twenty-five dollars. . . ."

It is further by the statute of the same state provided (Sec. 2546):

"No person shall at any time kill any woodcock, ruffled grouse, or quail for the purpose of conveying the same beyond the limits of the state; or shall transport or have in possession, with intention to procure the transportation beyond said limits, of any such birds killed within this state. The reception by any person within this state of any such bird or birds for shipment to a point without the state shall be prima facie evidence that said bird or birds were killed within the state for the purpose of carrying the same beyond its limits."

An information was filed against the plaintiff in error in the police court of New London, Connecticut, charging him

Page 161 U. S. 520

with, on the 19th day of October, 1889, unlawfully receiving and having in his possession, with the wrongful and unlawful intent to procure the transportation beyond the limits of the state, certain woodcock, ruffled grouse, and quail, killed within this state after the first day of October, 1889. The trial of the charge resulted in the conviction of the defendant and the imposing of a fine upon him. Thereupon the case was taken by appeal to the criminal court of common pleas. In that court, the defendant demurred to the information on the ground, among others, that the statute upon which that prosecution was based violated the Constitution of the United States.

The demurrer being overruled and the defendant declining to answer over, he was adjudged guilty and condemned to pay a fine and costs and to stand committed until he had complied with the judgment. An appeal was prosecuted to the Supreme Court of Errors of the state. The defendant on the appeal assigned the following errors:

"The court erred --"

"1st. In holding that the allegations contained in the complaint constitute an offense in law."

"2d. In holding that said complaint was insufficient in the law without an allegation that the birds therein mentioned were killed in this state for the purpose of conveying the same beyond the limits of this state."

"3d. In refusing to hold that so much of section 2546 of the General Statutes, under which this complaint is brought, as may be construed to forbid the transportation from this state of the birds therein described, lawfully killed, and permitted by the laws of the state to become the subject of traffic and commerce, is unconstitutional and void."

"4th. In refusing to hold that so much of said section as may be construed to forbid the receiving and having in possession, with intent to procure the transportation thereof to another state, birds therein described, lawfully killed, and permitted by the laws of this state to become the subject of traffic and commerce is unconstitutional and void."

"5th. In holding that the defendant is guilty of an offense

Page 161 U. S. 521

under said section if such birds were lawfully killed in this state and were bought by the defendant in the markets of this state as articles of property, merchandise, and commerce, and had begun to move as an article of interstate commerce."

"6th. In not rendering judgment for defendant."

In the supreme court, the conviction was affirmed. The case is reported in 61 Conn. 1442. To this judgment of affirmance this writ of error is prosecuted.

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