Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Opinion of the Court.

quite sufficient to show that the Constitution of the United States is violated by this statute as applied to crimes committed before it came into force.

These considerations render it our duty to order the release of the prisoner from the custody of the warden of the penitentiary of Colorado, as he is now held by him under the judgment and order of the court.

A question suggests itself, however, to the court which is not a little embarrassing, and which was not presented by counsel in the argument of the case. This consideration arises from the fact that there does not seem to be in the record before us any error in the proceedings of the court on the trial and the verdict of the jury, by which the party was convicted of murder in the first degree. It is only when the sentence or judgment of the court upon that verdict is entered that the error of the proceedings commences. When, in the language of the judgment of the court, the prisoner was ordered to be “kept by the warden of the penitentiary in solitary confinement until the day of his execution,” and when the knowledge of the day and the hour of his execution was by the statute to be withheld from him, the Constitution of the United States was violated because the additional punishments were inflicted on him by reason of the direction of the statute, which we have just seen was an ex post facto law, and in those respects void as being forbidden by the Constitution of the United States.

If this were a writ of error to the Supreme Court of. Colorado, as Kring's case was a writ of error to the Supreme Court of Missouri, our duty would be plain, namely, to reverse the judgment for the error found in it and remand the case to the state court for further proceedings. If such were the case before us our duty would be to reverse the judgment and remand the case to the court below to deal with the prisoner in the face of the fact that a verdict of guilty, which was valid and legal, remains unenforced. But under the writ of habeas corpus we cannot do anything else than discharge the prisoner from the wrongful confinement in the penitentiary under the statute of Colorado invalid as to this case.

Opinion of the Court.

us.

The language of the act of Congress, however, seems to have contemplated some emergency of the kind now before

Section 761 of the Revised Statutes declares that the court, or justice, or judge (before whom the prisoner may be brought by writ of habeas corpus) shall proceed in a summary way to determine the facts of the case by hearing the testimony and argument, and thereupon to dispose of the party as law and justice require.

What disposition shall we now make of the prisoner, who is entitled to his discharge from the custody of the warden of the penitentiary under the order and judgment of the court, because, within the language of section 753, he is in custody in violation of the Constitution of the United States, but who is, nevertheless, guilty, as the record before us shows, of the crime of murder in the first degree? We do not think that we are authorized to remand the prisoner to the custody of the sheriff of the proper county to be proceeded against, in the court of Colorado which condemned him, in such a manner as they may think proper, because it is apparent that while the statute under which he is now held in custody is an ex post facto law in regard to his offence, it repeals the former law, under which he might otherwise have been punished, and we are not advised whether that court possesses any power to deal further with the prisoner or not. Such a question is not before us, because it has not been acted upon by the court below, and it is neither our inclination nor our duty to decide what the court may or what it may not do in regard to the case as it stands. Upon the whole, after due deliberation, we have come to the conclusion that the attorney general of the State of Colorado shall be notified by the warden of the penitentiary of the precise time when he will release the prisoner from his custody under the present sentence and warrant at least ten days beforehand, and after doing this, and at that time, he shall discharge the prisoner from his custody; and such will be the order of this court. On consideration of the application for the discharge of the petitioner, James J. Medley, the writ of habeas corpus, directing J. A. Lamping, warden of the state penitentiary

Dissenting Opinion : Bradley, Brewer, JJ.

of the State of Colorado at Cañon City, Fremont County, State of Colorado, to produce the body of the said James J. Medley before this court, and to certify the cause of his detention and imprisonment, having been duly issued and served, and the said J. A. Lamping, warden as aforesaid, having certified that said James J. Medley is detained in his custody under and by virtue of a writ issued out of the District Court of Arapahoe County, State of Colorado, and the cause of said imprisonment having been duly inquired into by this court upon the return of the said writ of habeas corpus heretofore issued herein, and counsel having been heretofore heard and due consideration having

been had : It is now here ordered by this court that the imprisonment

of said James J. Medley, under said writ issued out of the District Court of Arapahoe County, State of Colorado, is without authority of law and in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and that the said James J. Medley is entitled to have his liberty. Whereupon it is hereby ordered that the said James J. Medley be, and he is

hereby, discharged from said imprisonment. It is further ordered that the said J. A. Lamping, warden as

aforesaid, do notify the Attorney General of the State of Colorado of the day and the hour of the day when he will discharge the said James J. Medley from imprisonment, and that such notice be given at least ten days before the release of the prisoner.

MR. JUSTICE BREWER (with whom concurred Mr. JUSTICE BRADLEY) dissenting.

I dissent from the opinion and judgment as above declared. The substantial punishment imposed by each statute is death by hanging. The differences between the two, as to the manner in which this sentence of death shall be carried into execution, are trifling. What are they? By the old law, execution must be within twenty-five days from the day of sentence. By the new, within twenty-eight days. By the old, confine

Title of the Cause.

ment prior to execution was in the county jail. By the new, in the penitentiary. By the old, the sheriff was the hangman. By the new, the warden. Under the old, no one had a right of access to the condemned except his counsel, though the sheriff might, in his discretion, permit any one to see him. By the new, his attendants, counsel, physician, spiritual adviser and members of his family have a right of access, and no one else is permitted to see him. Under the old, his confinement might be absolutely solitary, at the discretion of the sheriff, with but a single interruption. Under the new, access is given to him as a matter of right, to all who ought to be permitted to see him. True, access is subject to prison regulations; so, in the jail, the single authorized access of counsel was subject to jail regulations. It is not to be assumed that either regulations would be unreasonable, or operate to prevent access at any proper time. Surely, when all who ought to see the condemned have a right of access, subject to the regulations of the prison, it seems a misnomer to call this

solitary confinement,” in the harsh sense in which this phrase is sometimes used. All that is meant is, that a condemned murderer shall not be permitted to hold anything like a public reception; and that a gaping crowd shall be excluded from his presence. Again, by the old law, the sheriff fixes the hour within a prescribed day. By the new, the warden fixes the hour and day within a named week. And these are all the differences which the court can find between the two statutes, worthy of mention.

Was there ever a case in which the maxim, De minimis non curat lex,” had more just and wholesome application? Yet, on account of these differences, a convicted murderer is to escape the death he deserves and be turned loose on society.

I am authorized to say that. MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY concurs in this dissent.

SÁVAGE, PETITIONER. No. 6, Original. Petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Argued and submitted January 15, 1890. — Decided

Opinion of the Court.

March 3, 1890. MR. JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court. This case is in every respect the same as that of In re Medley, Petitioner. By petition to us we are advised that Savage was indicted by the grand jury of Arapahoe County for the crime of murder in the first degree, charged to have been committed on the 25th day of June, A.D. 1889, by killing one Emanuel Harbert; and that on the 23d of October thereafter he was found guilty by the jury of murder in the first degree. A similar judgment to that in the case of Medley was passed upon him, and he was remanded to the custody of the warden of the penitentiary of the State of Colorado under an order of precisely the same character as that in the case of Medley. It will thus be seen that the same statute involved in that case was the authority under which the court of Colorado rendered its judgment and committed the prisoner to the care of the warden of the penitentiary; that this statute came into force after the commission of the offence of which Savage was convicted, and is, therefore, ex post facto in its application to his case. The same order, therefore, that we have directed to be entered in Medley's case will be entered in this case, releasing the prisoner from the custody of the warden, after due notice to the attorney general of the State of Colorado. On consideration of the application for the discharge of the peti

tioner, James H. Savage, the writ of habeas corpus, directing J. A. Lamping, warden of the state penitentiary of the State of Colorado at Canon City, Fremont County, State of Colorado, to produce the body of the said James H. Savage before this court, and to certify the cause of his detention and imprisonment, having been duly issued and served, and the said J. A. Lamping, warden as aforesaid, having certified that said James H. Savage is detained in his custody under and by virtue of a writ issued out of the District Court of Arapahoe County, State of Colorado, and the cause of said imprisonment having been duly inquired into by this court upon the return of the said writ of habeas corpus heretofore issued herein, and counsel having been heretofore heard

and due consideration having been had: It is now here ordered by this court that the imprisonment of said

James H. Savage under said writ issued out of the District Court of Arapahoe County, State of Colorado, is without authority of law and in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and that the said James H. Savage is entitled to have his liberty. Where

VOL. CXXXIV-12

« ПредишнаНапред »