Whitney v. Dick
202 U.S. 132 (1906)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Whitney v. Dick, 202 U.S. 132 (1906)

Whitney v. Dick

No. 494, 557

Submitted April 3, 1906

Decided April 30, 1906

202 U.S. 132

Syllabus

Final orders of the circuit court of appeals may be brought to this Court, of right, only where the matter in dispute exceeds $1,000, and there is no appeal where, as in a habeas corpus proceeding, no amount is involved.

The circuit court of appeals is a court created by statute, and is not endowed with any original jurisdiction, and as there is no language in the statute which can be construed into a grant of power to issue a writ of habeas corpus unless it be one in aid of a jurisdiction already existing,

Page 202 U. S. 133

that court is not authorized to issue original and independent writs of habeas corpus.

Although the circuit court of appeals may possess the power, which has been exercised by this Court, to issue independent writs of certiorari, and although it may sometimes be proper in special cases to end litigation by summary process, yet, as a rule, the ordinary procedure for attacking a judgment in a criminal case is by writ of error, and where the only question is whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to punish the crime charged, in this case, selling of liquor in the Indian country, and there is no necessity of prompt action to uphold national authority, the writ of certiorari should not have been issued.

On May 16, 1905, the respondent in these two cases was convicted in the District Court of the United States for the District of Idaho, Northern Division, on the charge of unlawfully and feloniously introducing intoxicating liquors into the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, and sentenced to pay a fine of $100 and be confined in the penitentiary for the term of one year and ten days. On July 21, 1905, a bill of exceptions was duly prepared and signed. Thereafter, without suing out a writ of error, respondent applied to the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit for writs of habeas corpus and of certiorari. It does not affirmatively appear that any writ of habeas corpus was issued, the record in the court of appeals reciting:

"The petition in the above-entitled matter for a writ of habeas corpus and a writ of certiorari having been duly submitted to the court, and the petition for a writ of certiorari therein having been granted, and a writ of certiorari having been issued, directed to the honorable the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, and requiring the said district court to certify to this court a transcript of the record and proceedings in the suit therein of the United States v. George Dick, and the return to the said writ of certiorari having been filed, the matter was duly argued and submitted to the court for consideration and decision upon the said return and upon the briefs of counsel for the respective parties."

"On consideration whereof, and the court being of the opinion that the United States District Court for the District of

Page 202 U. S. 134

Idaho did not have jurisdiction of the offense charged in the indictment found against the petitioner in the suit of the United States v. George Dick, it is ordered and adjudged that the petitioner, George Dick, be discharged from imprisonment."

From this order of discharge, Whitney, as Warden of the Idaho State Penitentiary (the respondent named in the petition for a habeas corpus), perfected an appeal to this Court, and that appeal is case No. 494. Subsequently he applied for a writ of certiorari, to review the decision of the court of appeals, which was allowed, and that is case No. 557. The record in case No. 494 was directed to stand as the return to the writ of certiorari. Both the appeal and the certiorari were taken by the warden, appearing by the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho under the direction of the Attorney General of the United States.

Page 202 U. S. 135

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