United States v. Shipp
214 U.S. 386 (1909)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Shipp, 214 U.S. 386 (1909)

United States v. Shipp

No. 5, Original

Argued March 2, 3, 1909

Decided May 24, 1909

214 U.S. 386

Syllabus

The court, having already held, 203 U. S. 203 U.S. 563, that the information sufficiently set forth a contempt of the court to punish which the court has jurisdiction, now finds on the testimony taken under its direction that certain of the defendants named were guilty of the contempt as charged and directs that attachments issue against them, and that the defendants not found guilty be discharged.

Where a riot and the lawless acts of those engaged therein are the direct result of opposition to the administration of the law by this

Page 214 U. S. 387

Court, those who defy its mandate and participate in, or who knowingly fail to take the proper means within their official power and duty to prevent, acts of violence having for their object to, and which do, defeat the action of this Court are guilty of, and must be punished for, contempt.

One who, after conviction by the state court, has applied to the federal court for his release on habeas corpus on the ground that he was denied due process of law is remanded by the federal court to the custody of the sheriff to be detained for a specified time in which to enable him to prosecute an appeal to this Court, is held under § 766, Rev.Stat., as a federal prisoner and the sheriff is accountable to the federal courts, and, to the extent of his power and the means under his control, he must exercise due diligence and reasonable efforts to protect the prisoner from mob violence, and if, after this Court has granted an appeal, he negligently fails in his duty in this behalf, he is guilty of contempt.

Knowledge of an allowance by this Court of an appeal and a stay of proceedings renders those who defy the mandate of the court and so conduct themselves as willfully to defeat the administration of the law liable for contempt.

This Court having allowed an appeal from an order of a circuit court discharging a writ of habeas corpus and remanding the prisoner to the custody of the sheriff to be held for a specified period for prosecution of the appeal, the sheriff and his deputies and the jailer, who had knowledge of such allowance of appeal and also of an intense feeling in the neighborhood against the prisoner which on previous occasions had threatened his safety, were bound to use all means within their power to protect him, and failure on their part to take any precautions whatever to prevent the seizure and killing of the prisoner at the hand of a mob attacking the jail while in a defenseless condition was, under the circumstances of this case, willful negligence, and disregard of duty to, and contempt of, this Court, and so held as to the Sheriff of Hamilton County, Tennessee, and his deputy and the jailer, in connection with the lynching on March, 19, 1906, of Ed Johnson by a mob after this Court had allowed his appeal from an order refusing relief on habeas corpus.

Those of a mob who attack a state jail and lynch a person held therein as a federal prisoner under an order of this Court of which they have had notice are guilty of contempt of this Court.

The facts, which involve the lynching of a person held in the custody of a sheriff under an order of the federal court

Page 214 U. S. 388

and after an appeal had been allowed by this Court from an order of the United States circuit court denying his petition for habeas corpus, are stated in the opinion.

Page 214 U. S. 403

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