United States v. Kelly
24 U.S. 417 (1826)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Kelly, 24 U.S. 417 (1826)

United States v. Kelly

24 U.S. 417

Syllabus

Although the Crimes Act of 1790, ch. 36, s. 12, does not define the offense of endeavoring to make a revolt, it is competent for the court to give a judicial definition of it. The offense consists in the endeavor of the crew of a vessel or any one or more of them to overthrow the legitimate authority of the commander with intent to remove him from his command or against his will to take possession of the vessel by assuming the government and navigation of her or by transferring their obedience from the lawful commander to some other person.

The defendants, Kelly and others, were indicted in the Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania for that the defendants, on 24 December, 1824, being seamen on board a merchant vessel of the United States, called the Lancaster, on the high seas, feloniously endeavored to make a revolt in the said vessel contrary to the Act of Congress of 30 April, 1790, c. 36, s. 12. The defendants were found guilty, and moved the court in arrest

Page 24 U. S. 418

of judgment upon the ground

"that the act of Congress does not define the offense of endeavoring to make a revolt, and that it was not competent to the court to give a judicial definition of a crime heretofore unknown."

The opinions of the judges of the court below being divided upon this motion, the case was certified to this Court for determination.

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