In re Snow,
120 U.S. 274 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Snow, 120 U.S. 274 (1887)

In re Snow

Argued January 21, 1887

Decided February 7, 1887.

120 U.S. 274


Where a district court in the Territory of Utah refuses to issue a writ of habeas corpus involving the question of personal freedom, an appeal lies to this Court from its order and judgment of refusal.

The offense of cohabiting with more than one woman, created by § 3 of the Act of Congress of March 22, 1852, c. 47, 22 Stat. 31, is a continuous offense, and not one consisting of an isolated act.

Page 120 U. S. 275

S. was convicted separately in a district court of the Territory of Utah, on three indictments under that section, covering together a continuous period of time, each covering a different part, but the three parts being continuous, the indictments being found at the same time, by the same grand jury, on one oath and one examination of the same witnesses, covering the whole continuous time. One judgment was entered on the three convictions. It first imposed a term of imprisonment and a fine. It next imposed two further successive terms of imprisonment, each to begin at the expiration of the last preceding sentence and judgment, with two further fines. It set forth the time embraced by each indictment and specified each of the three punishments as being imposed in respect of a specified one of the indictments. On a petition to the district court of the territory by the defendant for a writ of habeas corpus, setting forth that he had been imprisoned under the judgment for more than the term first imposed and had paid the fine first imposed, and that the other two punishments were in excess of the authority of the trial court, the writ was refused. On appeal to this Court,


(1) There was but one entire offense for the continuous time.

(2) The trial court had no jurisdiction to inflict a punishment in respect of more than one of the convictions.

(3) As the want of jurisdiction appeared on the face of the proceedings, the defendant could be released from imprisonment on a habeas corpus.

(4) The order and judgment of the court below must be reversed and the case be remanded to that court with a direction to grant the writ of habeas corpus prayed for.

This was an appeal from an order of court refusing an application for a writ of habeas corpus. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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