United States v. Reisinger
128 U.S. 398 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Reisinger, 128 U.S. 398 (1888)

United States v. Reisinger

No. 59

Submitted November 1, 1888

Decided November 19, 1888

128 U.S. 398

Syllabus

Section 13 of the Revised Statutes, which enacts that

"The repeal of any statute shall not have the effect to release or extinguish any penalty, forfeiture, or liability incurred under such statute unless the repealing act shall so expressly provide, and such statute shall be treated as still remaining in force for the purpose of sustaining any proper action or prosecution for the enforcement of such penalty, forfeiture, or liability,"

clearly excepts from the operation of c. 181, � 1 of the Act of July 4, 1884, 23 Stat. 98, 99, repealing the Act of June 20, 1878, "relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases," 20 Stat. 243, c. 367, all offenses committed before the passage of that repealing act.

The words "penalty," "liability," and "forfeiture," as used in Rev.Stat. § 13, are synonymous with the word "punishment" in connection with crimes of the highest grade, and apply to offenses against the Act of June 20, 1873, 20 Stat. 243, c. 367, relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases.

This case came before the Court on the following certificate of division in opinion between the judges of the circuit court:

"In the Circuit Court of the United States"

"Western District of Pennsylvania"

"The United States"

"v. No. 1. May Term, 1885"

"Roe Reisinger"

"At a Circuit Court of the United states, held at the City of Pittsburg, for the Western District of Pennsylvania, on the 5th day of August, 1885, before the Hon. William McKennan and Hon. M. W. Acheson, judges, this cause came on to be heard and was argued by counsel, and on the hearing a question occurring upon which the judges were divided in opinion, upon the request and motion of the United States, by its district attorney and counsel, Wm. A. Stone, Esq., the point upon which the judges disagreed is now (during the same term) by

Page 128 U. S. 399

them hereinafter stated to the end that the same may be certified to the supreme court at their next session for final decision."

"Section 13 of the Revised Statutes is as follows:"

" The repeal of any statute shall not have the effect to release or extinguish any penalty, forfeiture, or liability incurred under such statute unless the repealing act shall so expressly provide, and such statute shall be treated as still remaining in force for the purpose of sustaining any proper action or prosecution for the enforcement of such penalty, forfeiture, or liability."

"By the act of Congress entitled, 'An act relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases,' approved June 20, 1878, 20 Stat. 243, it is enacted:"

" It shall be unlawful for any attorney, agent, or other person to demand or receive for his services in a pension case a greater sum than ten dollars."

"And by the Act of Congress approved March 3, 1881, 21 Stat. 408, Richardson's Suppl't Rev.Stat. 386, it is enacted as follows:"

" And the provisions of Section 5485 of the Revised Statutes shall be applicable to any person who shall violate the provisions of an act entitled 'An act relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases,' approved June 20, 1878."

"Said § 5485 is as follows:"

" Any agent or attorney or any other person instrumental in prosecuting any claim for pension or bounty land who shall directly or indirectly contract for, demand, or receive or retain any greater compensation for his services or instrumentality in prosecuting a claim for pension or bounty land than is provided in the title pertaining to pensions, or who shall wrongfully withhold from a pensioner or claimant the whole or any part of the pension or claim allowed and due such pensioner or claimant, or the land warrant issued to any such claimant shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall for every such offense be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars or imprisonment at hard labor not exceeding two years, or both at the discretion of the court. "

Page 128 U. S. 400

"By the Act of Congress approved July 4, 1884, 23 Stat. 98, it is, inter alia, enacted "That the act entitled An act relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases,' approved June 20, 1878, is hereby repealed, provided however that the rights of the parties shall not be abridged or affected as to contracts in pending cases, as provided for in said act; but such contracts shall be deemed to be and remain in full force and virtue, and shall be recognized as contemplated by said act.""

"In this state of the law, on the 14th day of April, 1885, an indictment was found in this case against the defendant, Roe Reisinger, charging him with having violated the said act of Congress, entitled 'An act relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases,' approved June 20, 1878, in that, on the 8th day of January, 1883 at the County of Crawford, in the district aforesaid, being the agent, attorney, and person instrumental in prosecuting a claim for pension for one Samuel Dixon, he did receive for his services in that behalf a greater sum than is provided in and by said act, to-wit, the sum of $100, and also in that on the 1st day of January, 1883 at the county and district aforesaid, being the agent, attorney, and person instrumental in prosecuting a claim for pension for one Elijah O'Daniels, he did receive for his services in that behalf a greater sum than is provided in and by said act, to-wit, the sum of $50. To which indictment the defendant did demur on the ground that the statute creating the offense set forth in the indictment and fixing a punishment therefor had been repealed without saving the right to the United States to prosecute for offenses committed in violation of said act prior to the repeal of the same. And, the government joining in said demurrer, it occurred as a question whether the defendant could be legally convicted and punished under the said indictment and the acts of Congress aforesaid, the said recited Act of June 20, 1878, entitled 'An act relating to claim agents and attorneys in pension cases,' having been expressly repealed by the Act of July 4, 1884, without any saving clause or reservation of the right to prosecute or punish for offenses

Page 128 U. S. 401

in violation of said Act of June 20, 1878, committed prior to the repeal thereof."

"Upon which question the undersigned judges are divided in opinion, and, upon the request of the United States by its district attorney and counsel, they make the foregoing statement and execute this certificate, and it is ordered that the same, together with a copy of the record and proceedings in the cause, be certified under the seal of the court to the Supreme Court at their next session, according to law."

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