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    U S EX REL. DRURY v. LEWIS, 200 U.S. 1 (1906)

    U.S. Supreme Court

    U S EX REL. DRURY v. LEWIS, 200 U.S. 1 (1906)

    200 U.S. 1

    UNITED STATES ex rel. RALPH W. DRURY and John Dowd, Appts.,
    EDWARD LEWIS, Warden of the Common Jail of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
    No. 126.

    Argued December 12, 1905.
    Decided January 2, 1906.

    Assistant to the Attorney General Purdy for appellants.

    No counsel for appellee.

    Statement by Mr. Chief Justice Fuller: [200 U.S. 1, 2]   Ralph W. Drury and John Dowd were indicted in the court of oyer and terminer for the county of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on two counts,-the first charging them with murder, and the second with manslaughter, in the homicide of one William H. Crowley, September 10, 1903. They were admitted to bail in the sum of $5,000 each, and having been subsequently surrendered, obtained a writ of habeas corpus from the circuit court of the United States for the western district of Pennsylvania. The case on the hearing was thus stated by Acheson, J., holding the circuit court:

    The court entered an order discharging the writ, and remanding petitioners to the custody of the warden of the jail of Allegheny county, and from that order this appeal was allowed and prosecuted.

    [200 U.S. 1, 6]  

    Mr. Chief Justice Fuller delivered the opinion of the court:

    In Baker v. Grice, 169 U.S. 284, 290 , 42 S. L. ed. 748, 750, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 323, an appeal from the final order of the circuit court of the United States for the northern district of Texas, in habeas corpus, it was said:

    The rule thus declared is well settled, and, in our judgment, it was properly applied in this case. Crowley was a citizen of Pennsylvania, not in the service of the United States, and was killed in or near a street of the city of Pittsburg, and not on property belonging to the United States or over which the United States had jurisdiction.

    The homicide occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court of oyer and terminer, which, as Judge Acheson observed, was the only civil court which could have jurisdiction to try petitioners for the alleged unlawful killing, and the indictment presented a case cognizable by that court.

    The general jurisdiction, in time of peace, of the civil courts of a state over persons in the military service of the United States, who are accused of a capital crime or of any offence against the person of a citizen, committed within the state, is, of course, not denied.

    But it is contended on behalf of the government that the state court was absolutely without jurisdiction to try petitioners for the killing of Crowley, because the homicide was committed [200 U.S. 1, 8]   by them 'while in the lawful performance of a duty and obligation imposed upon them by the Constitution and laws of the United States.' The argument is that Crowley had been guilty of the crime of larceny, and could have been indicted and prosecuted on the charge of felony in the district court of the United States, under 5439 of the Revised Statutes (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3675), or under 5391 (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3651), the United States having jurisdiction over the Allegheny arsenal property, and the Pennsylvania laws making what Crowley is alleged to have done a felony. Hence that it was the duty of petitioners to arrest Crowley, and to surrender him to the Federal authorities for prosecution. And it is insisted that the fact is 'established that Crowley met his death while attempting to escape arrest.' But there was a conflict of evidence as to whether Crowley had or had not surrendered; and it is conceded that if he had, it could not reasonably be claimed that the fatal shot was fired in the performance of a duty imposed by the Federal law, and the state court had jurisdiction.

    The circuit court was not called on to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. That was for the state court if it had jurisdiction, and this the state court had, even though it was petitioner's duty to pursue and arrest Crowley (assuming that he had stolen pieces of copper), if the question of Crowley being a fleeing felon was open to dispute on the evidence; that is, if that were the gist of the case, it was for the state court to pass upon it, and its doing so could not be collaterally attacked. The assertion that Crowley was resisting arrest, and in flight when shot, was matter of defense, and Ex parte Crouch, 112 U.S. 178 , 28 L. ed. 690, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 96, is in point.

    We have repeatedly held that the acts of Congress in relation to habeas corpus do not imperatively require the circuit courts to wrest petitioners from the custody of state officers in advance of trial in the state courts, and that those courts may decline to discharge, in the proper exercise of discretion. We think that discretion was properly exercised in this case.

    Final order affirmed.

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