Holmes v. Jennison - 39 U.S. 540 (1840)


U.S. Supreme Court

Holmes v. Jennison, 39 U.S. 14 Pet. 540 540 (1840)

Holmes v. Jennison

39 U.S. (14 Pet.) 540

Syllabus

In the State of Vermont, George Holmes was confined under a warrant issued by the governor of that state directing the Sheriff of the County of Washington to convey and deliver him

"to William Brown, the agent of Canada, or to such person or persons as by the laws of said province may be authorized to receive the same at some convenient place on the confines of this state and the said Province of Lower Canada to the end that he, the said George Holmes, may be thence conveyed to the said District of Quebec and be there dealt with as to law and justice appertains."

The warrant stated that "George Holmes was in the custody of the sheriff" by reason of a charge of felony sustained by indictment found by the grand jurors of the District of Quebec, in the Province of Lower Canada; that

"the said George Holmes, on 31 January, 1838, at the Parish of St. Louis of Kamouraska in said district, did feloniously kill and murder one Louis Paschal Achille Tache, and whereas the said George Holmes not being a citizen of the State of Vermont, but a citizen of the said Province of Lower Canada, and has come into this state from the said province of Canada, and the offense whereof he stands charged as aforesaid having been committed within the jurisdiction of said province, it is fit and expedient that he, the said George, be made amenable to the laws of said province for the offense aforesaid."

A writ of habeas corpus was, on the petition of George Holmes, issued by the Supreme Court of Vermont, and on the return thereto by the sheriff stating the warrant of the governor to be the cause of his detention, he was remanded by the court. George Holmes prosecuted a writ of error to the Supreme Court of the United States. The writ of error was dismissed, the Court being equally divided.

On 19 July, 1839, George Holmes presented a petition to the Supreme Court of the State of Vermont, then in session, setting forth that he was in the custody of John Starkweather, Sheriff of the County of Washington, in the common jail of Montpelier under a warrant bearing date 16 April, 1839, issued by Silas H. Jennison, Governor of Vermont, and that he was unlawfully imprisoned and restrained of his personal liberty. He prayed for a writ of habeas corpus to be directed to the sheriff. The writ was issued, and the sheriff returned that he had the body of the petitioner before the court and that he held him in custody under the following order from the Governor of the State of Vermont:

"STATE OF VERMONT"

"To John Starkweather, Esquire, Sheriff of the"

"County of Washington, greeting: "

"Whereas, George Holmes, late of Sorel, in the Province of Lower Canada, is now detained in the common jail in said Washington County, and under your custody, by reason of a certain charge of

Page 39 U. S. 541

felony, sustained by indictment found by the grand jurors of the District of Quebec in said province, to-wit, that the said George Holmes, on 31 January, 1839, at the Parish of St. Louis of Kamouraska in said district, did feloniously kill and murder one Louis Paschall Achille Tache; and whereas the said George Holmes, not being a citizen of the State of Vermont or of any of the United States, but a citizen of the said Province of Lower Canada, and has come into this state from the said province of Canada, and the offense whereof he is charged as aforesaid having been committed within the jurisdiction of said province, it is fit and expedient that he, the said George, be made amenable to the laws of said province for the offense aforesaid: "

"You are therefore required that as soon as may be after 27 (instant) April, the body of the said George Holmes, now in your custody, you convey and deliver to William Brown, the agent of Canada, or to such person or persons as by the laws of the said province may be authorized to receive the same at some convenient place on the confines of this state and the said province of Canada to the end that he, the said George Holmes, may be therein conveyed to the said District of Quebec, and be there dealt with as to law and justice appertains."

"Hereof fail not, but of your doings in the premises make due return."

"Given under my hand, at Shoreham, this 16th day of April, 1839."

"S. H. JENNISON"

"Governor of Vermont"

On the hearing of the habeas corpus before the Supreme Court of Vermont, evidence was produced which showed that George Holmes was a native citizen of the United States, having been born in the State of New Hampshire.

A correspondence between C.P. Van Ness, Esq., the Governor of the State of Vermont, in the year 1825, with the executive of the United States was also given in evidence. In March, 1825, the Governor of Vermont forwarded to Mr. Clay, the Secretary of State of the United States, a communication addressed to him by "the Acting Governor of Canada," stating that two soldiers of a British regiment who had committed a robbery on two officers of the regiment were then in confinement in jail in Burlington, Vermont, and asked that the offenders should be delivered up to a person to be authorized to receive them, to be brought to justice in the province of Canada. The Governor of Vermont, in the letter to the Secretary of State, expresses his readiness to attend to any directions the Secretary of State of the United States might please to give on the subject. The reply of Mr. Clay, which was transmitted by Governor Van Ness to the Acting Governor of Canada, states:

"I am instructed by the President to express his regret to your Excellency that the request of the Acting Governor of Canada cannot be complied with under any authority now vested in the executive government of the United

Page 39 U. S. 542

States; the stipulation between this and the British government, for the mutual delivery of fugitives from justice, being no longer in force and the renewal of it by treaty being, at this time, a subject of negotiation between the two governments."

A motion was made for the discharge of the prisoner upon the ground of the insufficiency of the cause alleged for his detention as being at variance with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and after a hearing of the case, the court rendered judgment against the application and ordered the prisoner to be remanded. George Holmes prosecuted this writ of error.

Page 39 U. S. 561



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