In re Johnson
167 U.S. 120 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Johnson, 167 U.S. 120 (1897)

In re Johnson

No. 13

Original

Submitted April 26, 1897

Decided May 10, 1897

167 U.S. 120

Syllabus

On July 24, 1896, a warrant was issued by a commissioner for the Southern District of the Indian Territory to arrest Johnson upon the charge of rape, alleged to have been committed upon one Pearl McCormick on the same day. Subsequently and on the 9th of October at a regular term of the United States court for that district, he was indicted, and on the 17th of October was arraigned, tried and convicted by a jury, and is now under sentence of death. On July 26, the day following the commission of the offense, a warrant, issued by a commissioner for the Eastern District of Texas charging him with the same crime was placed in the hands of the marshal for that district, who demanded of the marshal of the

Page 167 U. S. 121

Southern District of the Indian Territory the surrender of the petitioner in obedience to said writ, but the same was refused. It does not appear when this demand was made or whether it was before or after the 1st day of September. It further appeared that, at the time of the commission of the offense, the United States Court for the Eastern District of Texas was not in session, and that no term of said court was held until the third Monday of November, after petitioner had been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Held that if the petitioner was actually in the custody of the marshal on the 1st of September, his subsequent indictment and trial were valid, though in the first instance he might have been illegally arrested.

It is the settled doctrine of this Court that a court having possession of a person or property cannot be deprived of the right to deal with such person or property until its jurisdiction is exhausted, and that no other court has the right to interfere with such custody and possession.

This was a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to obtain the release of the petitioner from the custody of the Marshal of the Southern District of the Indian Territory, who now holds him under sentence of death for the crime of rape.

From the petition and the return to the rule to show cause, it appears that on July 24, 1896, a warrant was issued by a commissioner for the Southern District of the Indian Territory to arrest Johnson upon the charge of rape, alleged to have been committed upon one Pearl McCormick on the same day; that subsequently, and on the 9th of October, at a regular term of the United States court for that district, he was indicted, and on the 17th of October was arraigned, tried, and convicted by a jury, and is now under sentence of death.

It further appears that on July 25th, the day following the commission of the offense, a warrant issued by a commissioner for the Eastern District of Texas charging him with the same crime was placed in the hands of the marshal for that district, who demanded of the marshal of the Southern District of the Indian Territory the surrender of the petitioner in obedience to said writ, but the same was refused. It does not appear when this demand was made or whether it was before or after the 1st day of September. It further appeared that at the time of the commission of the offense, the United States Court for the Eastern District of Texas was not in session, and that no term of said court was held until

Page 167 U. S. 122

the third Monday of November, after petitioner had been tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

Upon this state of facts, the petitioner claimed that the United States court for the Southern District of the Indian Territory had no jurisdiction of the case, but that, under the provisions of an act of Congress cited in the opinion, the court for the Eastern District of Texas retained jurisdiction of all offenses committed within the Southern District of the Indian Territory where the punishment was death or imprisonment at hard labor until September 1, 1896, and that the United States Court for the Eastern District of Texas had sole and exclusive jurisdiction over his offense.

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