Medley, Petitioner,
134 U.S. 160 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Medley, Petitioner, 134 U.S. 160 (1890)

Medley, Petitioner

No. 5, Original

Argued and submitted January 15, 1890

Decided March 3, 1890

134 U.S. 160


A state statute (enacted after the commission of a murder in the state) which adds to the punishment of death (that being the punishment when the murder was committed) the further punishment of imprisonment by solitary confinement until the execution is, when attempted to be enforced against the person convicted of that murder, an ex post facto law and a sentence inflicting both punishments upon him is void, and the same is the case with a statute which confers upon the warden of the penitentiary the power to fix the day of execution and compels him to withhold the knowledge of it from the offender, when neither of those provisions formed part of the law of the state when the offense was committed.

Any law passed after the commission of the offense for which a person accused of crime is being tried which inflicts a greater punishment on the crime than the law annexed to it at the time when it was committed or which alters the situation of the accused to his disadvantage is an ex post facto law within the meaning of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States.

No one can be criminally punished in this country except according to a law prescribed for his government by the sovereign authority before the

Page 134 U. S. 161

imputed offense was committed or by some law passed afterwards by which the punishment is not increased.

There being no error in the proceedings of the court below on the trial and the verdict by which the party was convicted, and the error commencing only when the sentence or judgment of the court on the verdict is entered, the court, after deliberation, determines that the attorney general of the state shall be notified by the warden of the penitentiary of the precise time when he will release the prisoner from his custody at least ten days beforehand, and after doing this, and at that time, he shall discharge the prisoner.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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