United States v. Two Hundred Barrels of Whiskey
95 U.S. 571 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Two Hundred Barrels of Whiskey, 95 U.S. 571 (1877)

United States v. Two Hundred Barrels of Whiskey

95 U.S. 571

Syllabus

1. Distilled spirits, owned by and found upon the premises of a rectifier or wholesale liquor dealer, cannot be seized as forfeited to the United States under sec. 96 of the "Act imposing taxes on distilled spirits," &c., approved July 20, 1868, 15 Stat. 164, because such rectifier or wholesale liquor dealer has knowingly and willfully neglected, omitted, or refused to cause packages of distilled spirits containing more than twenty gallons each, filled for shipment or sale on his premises, to be gauged, inspected, and stamped in accordance with the provisions of sec. 25 of the same act.

2. The rules and regulations which the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is authorized by sec. 2 of that act, id., 125, to prescribe, may aid in carrying the law into execution, but they cannot change its positive provisions.

April 18, 1874, the property in controversy in this suit, said to be owned by one Karstendiek, was seized, as forfeited to the United States by the collector of internal revenue for the First Collection District of Louisiana, and it was at once libeled by the United States attorney for Louisiana, who, on the twenty-seventh day of March, 1875, filed an amended libel setting out the causes of seizure and forfeiture in these words, viz.:

"For that the said Karstendiek, at the time and place of seizure of said property as aforesaid, being, and for more than six months prior thereto having been, a rectifier of distilled spirits, and as such having paid the special tax required by the statute of the United States, and being then and there on said premises engaged in and carrying on the business of rectifier as aforesaid for and during the time and period aforesaid, did, on the fifth day of January, 1874, and at divers other times and dates during the period of six months aforesaid, the precise times and dates whereof are to the said attorney unknown, fill for shipment, sale, and delivery, on his said rectifying premises, a large number of casks, barrels, and packages with distilled spirits, the precise number whereof being to the said attorney unknown, each and every which said casks and packages, so filled as aforesaid, then and there did contain, respectively, more than twenty gallons of distilled spirits, and did then and there, as to each and all of said casks and packages aforesaid, willfully and knowingly omit, neglect, and refuse to procure and cause, as by the statute of the said United States he was then and there to do, in carrying on and conducting his said business of rectifier as aforesaid,

Page 95 U. S. 572

a United States gauger to then and there gauge and inspect the said casks and packages and to place thereon the stamps required by law, contrary to the form of the statute of the United States in such case made and provided, by reason whereof, and by force of the statutes of the United States in such case made and provided, all the said distilled spirits hereinbefore enumerated and described, found and seized at the time and place aforesaid, and so owned by the said Karstendiek aforesaid, at the time and under the circumstances aforesaid, became forfeited to the United States."

"For that the said Karstendiek, at the time and place of seizure of said property as aforesaid, being and for more than six months prior thereto having been a wholesale liquor dealer as aforesaid for and during the time and period aforesaid, did on the fifth day of January, 1874, and at divers other times and dates during the period of six months aforesaid, the precise times and dates whereof are to the said attorney unknown, fill for shipment, sale, and delivery, on his said premises, a large number of casks, barrels, and packages with distilled spirits, the precise number whereof being to the said attorney unknown, each and every which said casks and packages, so filled as aforesaid, then and there did contain, respectively, more than twenty gallons of distilled spirits, and did then and there, as to each and all of said casks and packages aforesaid, willfully and knowingly omit, neglect, and refuse to procure and cause, as by the statute of the said United States he was then and there to do, in carrying on and conducting his said business of wholesale liquor dealer as aforesaid, a United States gauger then and there to gauge and inspect the said casks and packages and to place thereon the stamps required by law, contrary to the form of the statute of the United States in such case made and provided, by reason whereof, and by force of the statutes of the United States in such case made and provided, all the said distilled spirits hereinbefore enumerated and described, found and seized at the time and place aforesaid and so owned by the said Karstendiek aforesaid at the time and under the circumstances aforesaid, became forfeited to the United States."

Twenty-five barrels of the whiskey seized were never the property of Karstendiek, but were claimed by and found to belong of other parties. All the claimants demurred to the information upon the ground that neither count set forth or alleged any facts warranting the seizure or forfeiture of the liquors.

Page 95 U. S. 573

The demurrer was sustained and the information dismissed. The case was then brought here.

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