Dynes v. Hoover
Annotate this Case
61 U.S. 65 (1857)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Dynes v. Hoover, 61 U.S. 20 How. 65 65 (1857)
Dynes v. Hoover
61 U.S. (20 How.) 65
The Constitution of the United States gives to Congress the power to provide and maintain a navy, and to make rules for its government.
In the exercise of this power, Congress provided for the punishment of desertion and of other crimes not specified in the articles, which should be punished according to the laws and customs in such cases at sea.
Where a seaman was charged with deserting, and the court martial found him guilty of attempting to desert, the Court had jurisdiction over the subject matter, and an action of trespass for false imprisonment will not lie against the ministerial officer who executes the sentence for attempting to desert.
It is only where a court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, or, having such jurisdiction, is bound to adopt certain rules in its proceedings, from which it deviates, whereby the proceedings are rendered coram non judice, that an action will lie against the officer who executes its judgment.
The authorities upon this point examined, and also the legal powers of courts martial.
Dynes was a seaman in the navy, who was tried by a court martial upon a charge of desertion, who found him not guilty of deserting but guilty of attempting to desert, and sentenced him to be confined in the penitentiary of the District of Columbia at hard labor, without pay, for the term of six months from the date of the approval of the sentence, and not to be again
enlisted in the naval service. Whereupon the President of the United States directed Hoover, the marshal of the district, to commit him to the penitentiary.
The proceedings of the circuit court are stated in the opinion of the Court.