Hawker v. New York
170 U.S. 189 (1898)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hawker v. New York, 170 U.S. 189 (1898)

Hawker v. New York

No. 415

Argued March 9, 1898

Decided April 18, 1898

170 U.S. 189

Syllabus

The provision in the Act of the Legislature of New York of May 9, 1893, c. 661, relating to the public health, as amended by the Act of April 25, 1896, c. 398, that

"Any person who, . . . after conviction of a felony, shall attempt to practice medicine, or shall so practice, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty dollars, or imprisonment for six months for the first offense, and on conviction of any subsequent offense, by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisonment for not less than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment,"

does not conflict with Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution of the United States which, provides that "No state shall . . . pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law or law impairing the Obligation of Contracts," when applied to a person who had been convicted of a felony prior to its enactment.

In 1878, the plaintiff in error (defendant below) was tried and convicted in the Court of Sessions of Kings County, New York of the crime of abortion, and sentenced to imprisonment

Page 170 U. S. 190

in the penitentiary for the term of ten years. In 1893, the Legislature of the State of New York passed an act entitled "The Public Health Law," Laws 1893, c. 661, which, as amended by the Laws of 1895, c. 398, provides, among other things, as follows:

"Section 153. Any person who, . . . after conviction of a felony, shall attempt to practice medicine, or shall so practice, . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty dollars, or imprisonment for six months for the first offense, and on conviction of any subsequent offense, by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisonment for not less than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment."

Under this statute, defendant was indicted in April, 1896, in the Court of General Sessions of the Peace for the City and County of New York. The indictment alleged the conviction in 1878, and charged that, having been so convicted of the crime and felony of abortion, defendant did, on the 22d day of February, 1896, in the City of New York, unlawfully practice medicine "by then and there unlawfully examining, treating, and prescribing for one Dora Henig." To this indictment he demurred. The demurrer was overruled and, upon a plea of not guilty, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to pay a fine of $250. That conviction having been sustained by the Court of Appeals of the state, 152 N.Y. 234, and a remittitur sent down, a final judgment was entered in the Court of General Sessions, whereupon he sued out this writ of error.

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