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

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

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

United States v. Kelly

24 U.S. 417

ON DIVISION OF OPINION AMONG THE JUDGES OF THE CIRCUIT

COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

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.

MR. JUSTICE WASHINGTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case comes before the Court upon a certificate of a division of opinion of the judges of the circuit court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania upon the following point assigned by the defendants as a reason in arrest of judgment, viz.,

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

This Court is of opinion that although the act of Congress does not define this offense, it is nevertheless competent to the court to give a judicial definition of it. We think that 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 her commander with intent to remove him from his command or against his will to take possession of

Page 24 U. S. 419

the vessel by assuming the government and navigation of her or by transferring their obedience from the lawful commander to some other person.

Certificate accordingly.

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.