Hill v. Wampler
298 U.S. 460 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hill v. Wampler, 298 U.S. 460 (1936)

Hill v. Wampler

No. 847

Argued May 4, 1936

Decided May 18, 1936

298 U.S. 460

Syllabus

1. A federal court imposing a fine in a criminal case may, in its discretion, direct that the defendant be imprisoned until the fine is paid; such direction, being an exercise of the judicial function, must be expressed in the sentence. P. 298 U. S. 463.

2. The only sentence known to the law is the sentence entered upon the records of the court -- the judgment. P. 298 U. S. 464.

3. If a sentence has been entered inaccurately, it may be corrected in a direct proceeding, but, when assailed collaterally, it imports verity, and the presumption that it says what the judge meant is irrebuttable. P. 298 U. S. 464.

4. A commitment departing in matter of substance from the judgment back of it is void, and its nullity may be established upon habeas corpus. P. 298 U. S. 465.

5. To a sentence of fine and imprisonment was added by the commitment prepared by the Clerk a direction that the imprisonment continue until the fine was paid.

Held:

(1) That such addition to the sentence could not be justified by a usage in the District or by unrecorded instructions from the judge to the clerk. P. 298 U. S. 465.

Page 298 U. S. 461

(2) An order of the court refusing to strike the added direction from the commitment was not binding, as res judicata, in a proceeding by habeas corpus to test the legality of the continued confinement after the term specified in the sentence had expired. P. 298 U. S. 466.

Response to questions certified in relation to an appeal to the court below from a judgment of the District Court, 11 F.Supp. 540, discharging the relator on habeas corpus.

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