Hyde v. United States
225 U.S. 347 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hyde v. United States, 225 U.S. 347 (1912)

Hyde v. United States

No. 447

Argued October 23, 24, 1911

Reargued May 3, 1912

Decided June 10, 1912

225 U.S. 347

Syllabus

In this case, the defendant applied for a writ of certiorari and the Attorney General assented to granting it on the ground that the determination of the case depends upon the principles of law governing conspiracy and it is of vital importance to the United States, as well as its citizens, to have those principles settled by this Court.

While, under the ancient rule of conspiracy, the gist was the conspiracy itself and the crime was complete without any overt act, § 5440, Rev.Stat. prescribes as necessary to constitute an offense under it not only the unlawful conspiracy, but also an overt act to effect the object by at least one of the conspirators.

Quaere as to the extent of agency between persons conspiring in violation of § 5440, Rev.Stat.

There may be a constructive presence in a state, distinct from personal presence, by which a crime committed in another state may be consummated, and render the person consummating it punishable at that place.

In construing criminal laws, courts must not be in too great solicitude for the criminal to give him immunity because of the difficulty in convicting or detecting him.

In determining the place of trial, there is no oppression in taking the conspirators to the place where the overt act was performed, rather than compelling the victims and witnesses to go to the place where the conspiracy was formed.

The size of our country has not become too great for the effective administration of criminal justice.

Where a continuing offense is committed in more than one district, the Sixth Amendment does not preclude a trial in any of those districts. Armour Packing Co. v. United States,209 U. S. 56.

Overt acts performed in one district by one of the parties who had conspired in another district in violation of § 5440, Rev.Stat., give jurisdiction to the court in the district where the overt acts are performed as to all the conspirators. Brown v. Elliott, p. 225 U. S. 392, post.

Page 225 U. S. 348

United States v. Kissel,218 U. S. 601, followed to the effect that a conspiracy under § 5440, Rev.Stat., may be a continuing one, and that the offense is not barred on the expiration of the period from the date of the conspiracy itself.

The fact that one of the conspirators was the servant of another conspirator does not preclude there being a conspiracy between them, and, until there is an affirmative withdrawal from the conspiracy by the servant, his acts bind his employer and co-conspirator so far as preventing the statute of limitations from running.

Until a conspirator affirmatively withdraws from a continuing conspiracy, there is conscious offending that prevents the statute from running.

A disclosure to the government by a conspirator does not amount to a withdrawal that would start the statute running if he thereafter commits overt acts, and whether there was acquiescence in the later acts of another conspirator is for the jury to determine.

Pleas in abatement on account of irregularities in selecting and impaneling the grand jury which do not relate to the competency of individual jurors must be pleaded with strict exactness and at the first opportunity. Agnew v. United States,165 U. S. 36.

While there may not be a conspiracy by one person alone, it is possible that some of the evidence may be admitted as against individual defendants and not against all, and it is not error for the court to charge that the jury might convict any one of the defendants alone, if accompanied by the statement that his instructions related to the sufficiency of evidence produced as to each defendant. In this case, the charge of the court in regard to the conviction of one or more of the defendants was not to their prejudice, but in their interest.

Whether the conviction of one of several persons charged with conspiracy can ever be illegal will not be considered when it appears that more than one have been convicted.

An objection to the admission of testimony in a trial for conspiracy offered exclusively as against one of the defendants becomes immaterial if that defendant is acquitted.

Even if a letter addressed to one of the defendants charged with conspiracy were improperly taken from the mails, the fact is not relevant to the question of the guilt of the conspirators.

While any evidence affecting a particular defendant in a trial of several for conspiracy may be important to him while on trial, it ceases to be so in the reviewing court if that defendant was acquitted.

In this case, it does not appear that the jury was coerced by the court into agreeing on the verdict or that the conviction of some of the

Page 225 U. S. 349

defendant and acquittal of others was the result of an improper agreement between the jurors.

Where the jury render a verdict within the issues, testimony of jurors themselves should not be received to show matters which essentially inhere in the verdict and necessarily can receive no corroboration.

35 App.D.C. 451 affirmed.

The facts,which involve the validity of a trial, conviction and sentence for conspiracy under § 5440 Rev.Stat. are stated in the opinion.

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