United States ex Rel. Kennedy v. Tyler
269 U.S. 13 (1925)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States ex Rel. Kennedy v. Tyler, 269 U.S. 13 (1925)

United States ex Rel. Kennedy v. Tyler

No. 125

Argued April 21, 22, 1925

Decided October 12, 1925

269 U.S. 13

Syllabus

1. The power of a district court to inquire by habeas corpus into the cause of the detention of a person held in custody by the authority of a state court in alleged violation of the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States is to be exerted in the exercise of a sound discretion, and the due and orderly administration of justice in a state court is not to be thus interfered with save in rare cases where exceptional circumstances of peculiar urgency are shown to exist. P. 269 U. S. 17.

2. Lack of ability to bear the expense of proceedings for relators' protection in the state courts or to furnish bonds required on appeal does not alter this rule. P. 269 U. S. 19.

3. Persons who were imprisoned by a New York court for contempt in disobeying its order prohibiting further proceedings in the Peacemakers' Court of the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation claimed that the land in question was outside the sovereignty of the state and the jurisdiction of its courts, and that their arrest and detention violated their rights as Seneca Indians, under treaties with the Seneca Nation, and their rights under the federal Constitution. Held, inasmuch as the state courts were proceeding under state laws passed in response to a request of the Seneca Nation and which apparently for the greater part of a century had not been challenged as impeding the authority of the federal government, that it was peculiarly appropriate that the questions raised should be dealt with by those courts in the first instance, subject to review by this Court, and that a writ of habeas corpus, issued by the district court, should have been discharged upon that ground, rather than upon the merits.

294 F. 111 affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the district court discharging upon the merits a writ of habeas corpus issuance of which was procured by Walter S. Kennedy on behalf of his son, Warren Kennedy and Sylvester J. Pierce, to

Page 269 U. S. 14

test the validity of their arrest and imprisonment for contempt of a prohibitory order of the Supreme Court of New York. The United States and Alice Estella Spring intervened in the district court and joined in the appeal. William F. Waldow, then Sheriff of Erie County, was named defendant; upon the expiration of his term, Frank M. Tyler, his successor, was substituted.

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