United States v. Jackalow - 66 U.S. 484 (1861)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Jackalow, 66 U.S. 1 Black 484 484 (1861)
United States v. Jackalow
66 U.S. (1 Black) 484
1. To give a circuit court of the United States jurisdiction of an offense not committed within its district, it must appear not only that the accused party was first apprehended in that district, but also that the offense was committed out of the jurisdiction of any state and not within any other district of the United States.
2. Whether a particular place is within the boundaries of a state is not
a question of law for the court, but a matter of fact for the jury to determine.
3. A special verdict finding that the offense was committed by the prisoner at a place designated, but omitting to find that it was outside the limits of any state, must be set aside.
This was an indictment against John, alias Johnny, alias John Canoe, alias Jackalow, a native of the Loo Choo Islands, for piracy on the high seas, found and tried in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of New Jersey, and came into the Supreme court on a certificate of the judges that they were divided in opinion.
The jury, in a special verdict, found that the offense charged
in the indictment was committed by the prisoner at a certain place described and designated, but did not find whether that place was within the jurisdiction of any state, within any district of the United States, or upon the high seas. Did this verdict authorize the circuit court to pronounce judgment of death against the prisoner? That was the question on which the judges divided.