1. Where a defendant in a criminal prosecution in the federal
district court pleads guilty upon three separate indictments, the
court may impose a sentence of fine and imprisonment upon one
indictment, and on each of the others may suspend the imposition of
sentence and place the defendant on probation for a definite period
to begin upon completion of service of the sentence on the first.
Probation Act of 1925, §§ 1-2; 18 U.S.C. §§ 724-725. P.
302 U. S.
2. A federal district judge who, while sitting in a criminal
case in a district to which he had been assigned pursuant to R.S. §
591, as amended, had, upon a plea of guilty, suspended sentence and
placed the defendant upon probation, is without authority, after
the termination of his service in that district, to make an order
revoking the probation and terminating the proceedings against the
probationer. P. 302 U. S.
3. A court other than that in which the judgment and sentence
are recorded is without authority, either under the Probation Act
or the statute providing for the assignment of judges, to make an
order, pursuant to § 2 of the Probation Act, revoking probation and
terminating the proceedings against the probationer. P.
302 U. S.
4. Limitations upon the jurisdiction of the assigned judge
cannot be waived by the actions of the probation officer or of the
District Attorney. P. 302 U. S. 319
89 F.2d 866 affirmed.
Certiorari, 301 U.S. 681, to review a judgment reversing orders
of the district court which discharged the petitioner upon a writ
of habeas corpus and denied a motion by the Government to sentence
him upon indictments under which probation had been granted.
Page 302 U. S. 313
MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The petitioner pleaded guilty to three indictments in the
District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Inch, a
District Judge of the Eastern District of New York, who had been
designated and assigned to suit in the Southern District, pursuant
to Rev.St. § 591, as amended, [Footnote 1
] received the pleas and imposed a sentence
under the first indictment (No. C 96-116) of two years'
imprisonment and $1,000 fine. Under the other indictments, he made
"Imposition of sentence suspended. Probation for four years to
begin after serving sentence on C 96-116. Subject to the standing
probation orders of this Court."
The petitioner paid his fine and served his sentence, and
thereupon entered upon his period of probation.
Twenty months after Judge Inch had returned to his own district,
application was made to him at chambers to discharge the petitioner
from probation and to terminate the proceedings against him,
pursuant to § 2 of the Probation Act of March 4, 1925, amended by
Act June 16, 1933. [Footnote 2
The judge directed that notice of the application be given to the
probation officer of the Southern District of New York. This was
done and, after a hearing on the merits in the Eastern District at
which the probation officer was present and took part, Judge Inch
entered an order revoking the probation, discharging the petitioner
from further supervision, and terminating the proceedings against
him. The order was captioned in the "United States District Court
for the Southern District of New York," and was filed in the office
of the clerk of that court.
Page 302 U. S. 314
About a year later, on a petition by the probation officer of
the Southern District, a judge sitting in that district authorized
a warrant for the petitioner's apprehension upon a charge of
violation of the terms of his probation. The petitioner was
arrested and admitted to bail pending a hearing.
Thereafter, the United States attorney for the Southern District
moved to vacate the order of Judge Inch terminating the probation
and the proceedings. By stipulation of counsel, Judge Inch returned
to the Southern District to hear the parties upon this motion, but
he entered no order, since, meantime, the petitioner had
surrendered himself to the marshal and sought a writ of habeas
corpus, and the United States attorney had moved before a judge
sitting in the Southern District that the petitioner be sentenced
on the two indictments under which sentence had been suspended.
] The petition for
the writ and the motion for sentence were heard together; the
petition was granted, and the motion was denied. The Circuit Court
of Appeals reversed and remanded the cause "for the consideration
of the revocation of [the petitioner's] probation and for sentence
if warranted." [Footnote 4
We granted the writ of certiorari because of the importance of
the questions presented in the administration of the Probation Act.
We hold that the judgment of the court below was right.
The contention that the trial court was without
power to suspend the imposition of sentences on the pleas of guilty
to two of the indictments and place the defendant
Page 302 U. S. 315
on probation effective after completion of service of sentence
on the third indictment is without merit. Based upon this
contention, the petitioner says that, when he had completed service
of the sentence imposed on indictment C 96-116, there remained no
sentence against him, and, the term having long since expired, the
court was without power then to impose one.
The Probation Act (supra
) provides, in § 1 that United
States courts having original jurisdiction of criminal actions,
being satisfied that the ends of justice and the best interests of
the public and of the defendant will be served thereby, shall have
power, after conviction for any crime or offense not punishable by
death or life imprisonment,
"to suspend the imposition or execution of sentence and to place
the defendant upon probation for such period and upon such terms
and conditions as they may deem best,"
or to impose a fine and place the defendant upon probation; to
revoke or modify any condition of probation or change the period
thereof, provided that the period with any extensions shall not
exceed five years. The act was intended to cure the lack of power
indefinitely to suspend a sentence, under which District Courts
labored prior to the enactment. [Footnote 5
The second section provides that, at any time within the
probation period, or at any time after the probation period but
within the maximum period for which the defendant might originally
have been sentenced, the probationer may be summoned before the
court and "the court may revoke the probation or the suspension of
sentence, and may impose any sentence which might originally have
been imposed." The action of the trial court in suspending sentence
and imposing probation on two of the indictments was in strict
accordance with the authority thus explicitly conferred. The
validity of the
Page 302 U. S. 316
cited provisions is not open to question. [Footnote 6
] The mere fact that a sentence of a
fine and imprisonment had been imposed upon one of the indictments
in no way militated against the prescription of probation in
respect of the plea of guilty under the other two. [Footnote 7
The order of Judge Inch, sitting in the Eastern
District, after the termination of his service in the Southern
District, was null. The statute providing for designation and
assignment of a District Judge to sit temporarily in another
district than his own does not authorize the order, and the express
provisions and obvious intent of the Probation Act negate the power
of any judge, other than a judge of the Southern District of New
York, to make it.
The Act of March 3, 1911, § 18, as amended, [Footnote 8
"Any designated and assigned judge who has held court in another
district than his own shall have power, notwithstanding his absence
from such district and the expiration of the time limit in his
designation, to decide all matters which have been submitted to him
within such district, to decide motions for new trials, settle
bills of exceptions, certify or authenticate narratives of
testimony, or perform any other act required by law or the rules to
be performed in order to prepare any case so tried by him for
review in an appellate court."
When an assigned judge has presided at the trial of a cause, he
is to have power, though the period of his service has expired, and
though he may have returned to his own district, to perform the
functions which are incidental and supplementary to the duties
performed by him while present and acting in the designated
district. And where a cause has been submitted to him in the
designated district, after his return to his own district, he may
enter decrees or orders and file opinions necessary to dispose
Page 302 U. S. 317
the case, notwithstanding the termination of his period of
service in the foreign district. But the act goes not farther. It
clearly does not contemplate that he shall decide any matter which
has not been submitted to him within the designated district. A
criminal trial is concluded by the judgment of sentence entered
upon a plea or a verdict of guilt. By express provision of the
statute, an assigned judge may thereafter, notwithstanding the
expiration of his term of service, hear a motion for a new trial
and do all things necessary to prepare a record for an appellate
court, but no authority is given to hear a new matter, even though
that new matter may arise in the same case. An application for the
termination of the probation and the proceedings against a
defendant constitutes a new matter, submission of which may not be
made to the assigned judge after his return to his own district.
The appropriate place for its presentation is the court in which
the judgment of conviction and the sentence is recorded. In the
absence of express authorization, no power to deal with such an
application is vested in any other court.
All the relevant provisions of the Probation Act refer to the
court in which the guilt of the defendant was determined and
sentence imposed. The first section empowers the court having
jurisdiction of the action to place the defendant upon probation,
and to revoke or modify the conditions of the probation. The second
requires the probation officer, when directed by the court, to
report to the court as to the conduct of the probationer;
authorizes the court either to discharge the probationer from
further supervision or to terminate the proceedings against him or
to extend the period of probation, to issue a warrant, upon a
proper showing, for the probationer's arrest and, upon a hearing,
to revoke the probation or the suspension of sentence and to impose
a sentence which might have originally been imposed. Section three
Page 302 U. S. 318
the judge of any United States court to appoint one or more
suitable persons as probation officers "within the jurisdiction and
under the discretion of the judge making such appointment or of his
successor." Section four places upon a probation officer the duty
to investigate any case referred to him for investigation by the
court in which he is serving, and to report thereon to the court,
and such other duties as the court may direct.
Thus, the trial court has complete supervision over the
probationer for the period of his probation and for the term of the
maximum sentence which might have been imposed. This jurisdiction
is vested in the trial court, and in no other. To hold that a judge
of another district, merely because he had temporarily sat at the
trial and conviction of a defendant and imposed sentence, could,
from that other district, supervise, extend, modify or terminate
the probation would be to ignore the intent of the law. It would,
moreover, result in confusion and inconvenience in the
administration of the Probation Act. It would mean that the United
States attorney and his assistants, and a probation officer of the
court in which the judgment is recorded, would be required to go to
distant parts to be heard upon the merits of any application by the
probationer, and that the probationer, at his will, could institute
proceedings either before a judge of the court in which his
conviction is recorded or the judge in a different district who had
been a temporary member of that court. Such a possibility was
certainly never intended. Probation is a system of tutelage under
the supervision and control of the court which has jurisdiction
over the convicted defendant, has the record of his conviction and
sentence, the records and reports as to his compliance with the
conditions of his probation, and the aid of the local probation
officer, under whose supervision the defendant is placed. This
jurisdiction is not divided between that court and a distant judge
who sat by designation at the defendant's trial.
Page 302 U. S. 319
What has been said indicates the answer to
petitioner's argument that the probation officer of the Southern
District, by appearing before Judge Inch in the Eastern District
upon the application for termination of the proceedings, and the
United States attorney, by stipulating that Judge Inch might return
to the Southern District to hear a motion for resettlement of his
order, have waived venue or are estopped to question it. Neither of
these officers could confer jurisdiction upon a designated judge to
perform acts not authorized by the assignment act outside the
district of designation after his term of service had ended. They
could not waive the jurisdictional requirements of the Probation
Act or by their conduct confer jurisdiction on a judge of another
district to act for the trial court in which alone the statute
vests the power to deal with the subject.
The judgment is
U.S.Code, Title 28, § 17.
U.S.Code, Title 18, § 725.
In fact there were two motions. The one was for sentence on the
two indictments. This apparently was not pressed. The other was for
an order committing the petitioner
"for the period of the unserved portion of his sentence . . .
to-wit, four years in a place to be designated by the Attorney
General of the United States, and for such other, further, and
different relief as to the court may seem just and proper."
89 F.2d 866, 869.
Ex parte United States, 242 U. S.
Escoe v. Zerbst, 295 U. S. 490
295 U. S.
Compare Burns v. United States, 287 U.
U.S.Code, Tit. 28, § 22.