Baldwin v. Kansas,
129 U.S. 52 (1889)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Baldwin v. Kansas, 129 U.S. 52 (1889)

Baldwin v. Kansas

No. 1154

Argued December 17, 1888

Decided January 14, 1889

129 U.S. 52


The plaintiff in error was convicted of murder in a state court in Kansas. The Supreme Court of that state affirmed the judgment. On a writ of error from this Court, it was assigned for error that the jurors were not sworn according to the form of oath prescribed by the statute of Kansas, and that therefore the jury was not a legally constituted tribunal, and so the defendant would be deprived of his life without due process of law, and be denied the equal protection of the law. The statute did not

Page 129 U. S. 53

give in words the form of the oath, but required that the jury should be sworn "to well and truly try the matters submitted to them in the case in hearing, and a true verdict give, according to the law and the evidence." The record did not state the form of the oath administered, but the journal entry stated that the jurors were "duly" sworn "well and truly to try the issue joined herein," and the bill of exceptions stated that the jury was sworn "to well and truly try the issues joined herein." The verdict also recited that the jury was "duly sworn" in the action. The record did not show that at the trial before the jury, any title, right, privilege, or immunity under the Constitution of the United States was specially set up or claimed. No objection was taken to the form of the oath at the trial, nor at the making of motions for a new trial and for an arrest of judgment before the trial court. The point was first suggested in the supreme court of the state


1. The recitals in the record as to the swearing of the jury were not to be regarded as an attempt to set out the oath actually administered, but rather as a statement of the fact that the jury had been sworn and acted under oath.

2. The objection could not be considered, because it was not taken at the trial.

The question whether the evidence in the case was sufficient to justify the verdict, and the question whether the Constitution of Kansas was complied with or not in certain proceedings on the trial, were not federal questions which this Court could review.

The case which was claimed to raise a federal question is stated in the opinion.

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