In re Green
134 U.S. 377 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Green, 134 U.S. 377 (1890)

In re Green

No. 1117

Submitted January 21, 1890

Decided March 24, 1890

134 U.S. 377


The courts of a state have jurisdiction of an indictment for illegal voting for electors of President and Vice-President of the United States, and a person sentenced by a state court to imprisonment upon such an indictment cannot be discharged by writ of habeas corpus, although the indictment and sentence include illegal voting for a representative in Congress.

This was a writ of habeas corpus granted upon the petition of Charles Green by the circuit court of the United States to the sergeant and jailer of the City of Manchester in the State of Virginia, who justified his detention of the prisoner under a judgment of the hustings or corporation court of the city sentencing him to be imprisoned in the city jail for five weeks and to pay a fine of five dollars upon his conviction by a jury on an indictment charging him with unlawfully, knowingly, corruptly, and with unlawful intent voting at an election held in that city for a representative in Congress and for electors of President and Vice-President of the United States on November 6, 1888, being disqualified b y a previous conviction for petty larceny.

By the Code of Virginia of 1887, general elections are held throughout the state on the fourth Tuesday in May and on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in each year for all officers required by law to be chosen at such elections respectively; § 109; persons convicted of bribery at an election, embezzlement of public funds, treason, felony, or petty larceny are disqualified to vote; § 62; elections are by ballot containing the names of all persons intended to

Page 134 U. S. 378

voted for and designating the office of each; § 122; members of the House of Representatives of the United States are chosen by the qualified voters of the respective congressional districts at the general election in November, 1888, and in every second year thereafter; § 52; electors for President and Vice-President of the United States are chosen by the qualified voters of the state at the election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, 1888, and on the corresponding day in each fourth year thereafter, or at such other time as may be appointed by Congress; §§ 54, 55; and any person who shall knowingly vote in any election district in which he does not reside and is registered, or vote more than once at the same election, "or, not being a qualified elector, vote at any election with an unlawful intent," shall be punished by imprisonment in jail not exceeding one year and by fine not exceeding $1,000. § 3851.

The circuit court was of opinion

"that the United States courts for this district have sole and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the matters and things alleged in the bill of indictment found in the said hustings court of Manchester, upon the ground that the acts of Congress in such case made and provided (Rev.Stat. §§ 5511, 5514) have defined the offense charged in the said indictment and prescribed the penalty therefor, and that the United States courts have sole and exclusive jurisdiction thereof, and that the said hustings or corporation court of Manchester had no jurisdiction of the matters and things charged in the said indictment against the said Charles Green,"

and therefore adjudged that the prisoner be discharged. The respondent appealed to this Court.

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