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LUCAS v. UNITED STATES.

decided: May 25, 1896.

LUCAS
v.
UNITED STATES.



ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS.

Author: Shiras

[ 163 U.S. Page 614]

 MR. JUSTICE SHIRAS delivered the opinion of the court.

It has recently been decided by this court in the case of Alberty v. United States, 162 U.S. 499, that the act of May 2, 1890, wherein it provides that the judicial tribunals of the Indian nations shall retain exclusive jurisdiction in all civil

[ 163 U.S. Page 615]

     and criminal cases arising in the country in which members of the nation by nativity or by adoption shall be the only parties, is to be construed as meaning the parties to a crime as well as parties to a civil controversy, and as, under the present condition of the laws pertaining to the Choctaw tribe, negroes who have been adopted into the tribe are within the jurisdiction of its judicial tribunals, it follows that the averment in the indictment in the present case that Levy Kemp, the murdered man, was a negro and not an Indian was the averment of a jurisdictional fact, which it was necessary for the prosecution to sustain by competent evidence. Such averment implied that there were negroes who were and those who were not Indians in a jurisdictional sense.

As the accused was a Choctaw Indian, as the killing took place in the Indian Territory, and as Kemp was alleged and conceded to be a negro, the question arises, what was the legal presumption as to the latter's citizenship? Is it to be presumed that he was a citizen of the United States, or that he was a member and citizen of the Choctaw tribe?

We understand the learned judge to have assumed that the presumption was that Kemp was not a member of the Choctaw tribe, and to have so instructed the jury. His language on this subject was as follows:

"In the first place, you are required to find that Kemp, the man killed, or the unknown man, if you should believe his name has not been established, was a negro and not an Indian. That means he was a citizen of the United States; that means that the court has jurisdiction of the case under the law. You may find that proposition by circumstances as well as by what is called positive proof."

In disposing of the motion for a new trial, the judge said:

"Now it may be said that there are some people who are negroes who are adopted into that nation, but that is the exception to the rule. That is an exception to the general rule. The proof in this case, as we find by proceeding further on, shows that the deceased in this case, was not one of that class. It is certainly a correct rule of law when you come to an exception of that character, when you find a man who is a

[ 163 U.S. Page 616]

     negro by blood said to be such, and there was no controversy over that, and the government proves that fact, that makes a prima facie case of jurisdiction, because it shows that he belonged to a race that, as a rule, are not of the Indian race, and they are only of such Indian race by adoption. When that fact is proven it makes a prima facie case of jurisdiction."

The view of the trial judge, therefore, seems to have been that a finding of the fact that the deceased was a negro established the jurisdiction of the court by reason of a presumption that a negro, though found ...


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