Craemer v. Washington State
168 U.S. 124 (1891)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Craemer v. Washington State, 168 U.S. 124 (1897)

Craemer v. Washington State

No. 466

Submitted October 12, 1891

Decided October 25, 1891

168 U.S. 124

Syllabus

In the case of a petition for habeas corpus for relief from a detention under process alleged to be illegal by reason of the invalidity of the process or proceedings under which the petitioner is held in custody, copies of

Page 168 U. S. 125

such process or proceedings must be annexed to, or the essential parts thereof set out in the petition, mere averments of conclusions of law being necessarily inadequate.

In this case, which was an indictment for murder, the verdict being "guilty as charged," and judgment of condemnation to death thereon being armed by the supreme court of the state, and this Court having determined, on a former petition by the petitioner that it had no jurisdiction to review that judgment, Craemer v. Washington state, 164 U.S. 704, and the time appointed for execution having passed pending all these proceedings, it was within the power of the state court to make a subsequent appointment of another day therefor, and to issue a death warrant accordingly, and a judgment to that effect involved no violation of the Constitution of the United Staten.

This was an appeal from a final order of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Washington refusing a writ of habeas corpus on the face of the petition therefor. The petition averred that Henry Craemer, the petitioner, was a citizen of the United States residing in the County of King in the State of Washington. That he was unlawfully held in custody by the sheriff of that county, who was about to take his life under certain alleged process and authority

"wholly without authority of law, without the jurisdiction of any court, contrary to the law, and contrary to the rights of your petitioner as a citizen of the United States under the Constitution of the United States."

"That on or about the 23d day of August, 1894, he was charged by the State of Washington by information of three separate crimes in one count, to-wit, the crime of murder in the first degree, to which the penalty of death attached upon conviction; murder in the second degree, to which a penalty of not less than ten nor more than twenty years' imprisonment in the penitentiary attached, and the offense of manslaughter, to which not less than two nor more that ten years' imprisonment in the penitentiary attached."

"That your petitioner was tried upon the said information upon issue joined in the Superior Court of King County."

"That to said issue a jury trying your petitioner did return him guilty of no greater offense than the offense of murder in the second degree, and by legal construction, granting inferences and all presumptions in favor of your petitioner as

Page 168 U. S. 126

accused, finding your petitioner guilty of no higher offense than that of manslaughter."

"That the said jury in no wise found your petitioner guilty of murder in the first degree, to which the sentence and penalty of death could be inflicted."

"That the said verdict was rendered about the 12th day of September, 1894."

"That your petitioner appealed from the decision finding your petitioner guilty of murder in the second degree or of manslaughter to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, upon errors assigned, and the said judgment was affirmed."

"And, further, upon the validity of the process under which your petitioner was charged, to-wit, as to whether or not your petitioner could be tried upon an information for his life, your petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States upon that point, and that point alone, and the said supreme court dismissed said a appeal, returning the said cause and all process to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, to be dealt with as in manner and form of the law was both just and proper."

That no death warrant had been issued while the cause was on appeal, and that there had been no opportunity or occasion to complain in the supreme court of the state or in any other court as to the right to issue such warrant. That the cause was tried before Judge Humes, one of the judges of the Superior Court of the County of King.

"That after the said cause had been disposed of in the Supreme Court of the State of Washington and the Supreme Court of the United States, and returned to the Superior Court of the State of Washington for the execution of such process as would be legal in the premises,"

Judge Humes had been succeeded by Judge Jacobs. That on February 6, 1897, the State of Washington moved that petitioner be brought up for judgment and other process against him, and that Judge Jacobs issue a warrant of death, and that petitioner duly objected to Judge Jacobs passing sentence of death upon him and issuing a death warrant to the sheriff, and insisted that the court was without

Page 168 U. S. 127

jurisdiction to make such an order, and that such order would be in denial of due process of law, and in violation of Article VI and of Article XIV of the federal Constitution, but, notwithstanding his objections, petitioner was ordered to be executed on April 23, 1897.

That under the laws of the State of Washington, there was no time allowed further to appeal from that order to the supreme court of the state. That the governor of the state respited petitioner, and stayed the execution of the death sentence until July 23, 1897.

"That the next term of the Supreme Court of the State of Washington is not until the month of October, 1897, in which there would be any authority on the part of the court by any proceedings to review the unauthorized act of the said Judge Jacobs and of his honor the judge of the superior court,"

and the only remedy left petitioner as a citizen of the United States was application to the circuit court.

Petitioner prayed for the writ of habeas corpus, and for the writ of certiorari to the Superior Court of the County of King, ordering the record of the cause to be certified to the circuit court

"for information, particularly the alleged information, the verdict, the judgment, and the death warrant made in the premises, and all other journal entries and orders in the cause."

The appeal came before this Court on motions to dismiss or affirm.

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