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HAAS v. HENKEL

decided: February 21, 1910.

HAAS
v.
HENKEL, UNITED STATES MARSHAL.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

Author: Lurton

[ 216 U.S. Page 471]

 MR. JUSTICE LURTON delivered the opinion of the court.

On May 29, 1908, four indictments were found in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia against Moses Haas, and certain others, charging them with having conspired in the District of Columbia to defraud the United States, and with having conspired to commit an offense against the United States, under § 5440, Rev. Stat. Bench warrants were issued and returned not found.

On the same day four other indictments were found in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York against the same Moses Haas and the others named in the District of Columbia indictments, charging them with having conspired in the Southern District of New York to commit the same offenses covered by the four District of Columbia indictments. Haas appeared in the New York courts and gave bail. Later he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty, then withdrew his plea and entered a motion to quash, which was overruled.

On June 24, 1908, and while this motion to quash was sub judice, proceedings were duly begun by the United States district attorney for the Southern District of New York before the United States commissioner for the arrest of Haas and his removal to the District of Columbia for trial upon the indictments there pending against him. Pending these removal proceedings, and before any hearing, the United States district attorney moved the Circuit Court in which the New York indictments were pending for consent to the prosecution of these removal proceedings, and consent was granted over the objection of Haas. This application was made by direction of the then attorney General of the United States, who, in an official communication, said "that should the trial here [Washington] result in acquittal or conviction, the indictments in New York will be dropped." Among other

[ 216 U.S. Page 472]

     reasons for desiring the trial in Washington, aside from mere questions of convenience to Government officials and witnesses, the Attorney General said:

"1. The indictments charge of conspiracy on the part of the several defendants to cause to be issued at Washington by the Bureau of Statistics for the Department of Agriculture of false cotton crop reports, and that Holmes, who was then Associate Statistician of the Bureau Of Statistics, was to furnish to his co-conspirators in advance of their official issue the information to be contained in the reports. While, owing to the commission in your district of acts in pursuance of the conspiracy, the court in your district has jurisdiction of the offense, yet the conspiracy was in all probability actually formed in Washington. The false reports were prepared and issued here and the advance information was given out here. The real situs of the crime then is in the District of Columbia, and the trials should therefore be had here.

"2. The defendant Holmes has been arrested and is now awaiting trial on the indictments pending in the District of Columbia. There are two series of these indictments, one against Price, Haas and Holmes, and the other against Haas, Peckham and Holmes. It would be a great convenience and a vast saving to the Government to try the defendants together. Even this would necessitate two trials, one in each series. If the non-resident defendants are not removed to Washington, four trials would be needed, two in Washington and two in New York."

Upon the hearing before the commissioner the Government put in evidence certified copies of the four District of Columbia indictments, and proof that bench warrants had issued in that district and been returnecd not found. The defendant admitted his identity and put in evidence copies of the four New York indictments and of the proceedings has thereunder. The commissioner found probable cause and directed that Haas be held to await an order of removal by a district judge. Thereupon a petition for writs of habeas corpus and

[ 216 U.S. Page 473]

     certiorari were filed in the Circuit Court, averring that his arrest and detention was illegal and in violation of the Federal Constitution. The Circuit Court upon a full hearing denied the writs and remanded the petitioner. 166 Fed. Rep. 621. This appeal was thereupon taken.

The facts stated present the question as to whether Haas could be lawfully removed under § 1014, Rev. Stat., over his objection, pending the proceedings against him in the Southern District of New York for similar offenses.

Section 1014 provides for the arrest and detention of any person, wherever found, "for trial" before such court of the United States as by law has cognizance of the offense, and that "where any offender or witness is committed in any district other than that where the offense is to be tried, it shall be the duty of the judge of the district where such offender or witness is imprisoned seasonably to issue, and of the marshal to execute, a warrant for his removal to the district where the trial is to be had."

Haas was arrested upon a warrant duly sworn out, charging him with offenses against the United States, committed within the District of Columbia. Copies of the indictments duly returned by a grand jury were put in evidence. That made a prima facie case, requiring detention until an order of removal could be applied for and issued. Haas insisted upon his right to be tried in the district of his residence, and complained, with more or less justice, of the expense and hardship incident to a trial in the District of Columbia. But there is no principle of constitutional law which entitles one to be tried in the place of his residence. The right secured by Act. III, § 2 of, and the Sixth Amendment to, the Constitution is the right of trial in the district "where the crime shall have been committed." If, therefore, Haas committed a crime against the United States in the District of Columbia he had neither legal nor constitutional right to boject to removal to the district where the trial was to be had. In re Palliser, 136 U.S. 257, 265.

[ 216 U.S. Page 474]

     If the only constitutional right secured is the right to a trial by jury in the district where the crime was committed, there is obviously no invasion of either right by the election of the Government to prosecute the offense in any district and "court of the United States as by law has cognizance of the offense." If the same accusation has been made by grand juries of different jurisdictions, it would be manifestly the duty of the prosecuting officer of the United States to determine in which the offense was most probably committed and bring the offender to trial there. Thus, if the place of the formation of the conspiracy be doubtful, and there be some facts pointing to one district and some to another, and indictments have been returned in each, it would be the plain duty of the prosecution to take steps to bring the case to trial in that district to which the facts most strongly pointed. This seems to have been the very situation of this case, and the principal motive moving the Attorney General to give the instruction shown by his letter to the district attorney for the Southern District of New York. The removal statute is plain and leaves no room for the court to make an exception, when Congress has made none.

Has the United States court for the District of Columbia jurisdiction over the accusation made in that District and is the case triable there? If so, the duty of the commissioner, assuming a showing of probable cause, was to detain and to the judge of the district to issue his warrant for the removal of the accused "to the district where the trial is to be had." The case, on principle, must be the same if the offense be one which was committed in more than one district. In such a case § 731, Rev. Stat. makes it cognizable in either.But, if indicted in two or more districts, there must be an election as to where the defendant shall be tried. Primarily, this is the right and duty of the Attorney General, or those acting by his authority. If the election require the arrest of the accused in a district other than that in which the trial is to be had, removal proceedings must of courts, be instituted.

[ 216 U.S. Page 475]

     The duty of the commissioner is then limited to the determination of the single question of whether a prima facie case is made that the accused has committed an offense against the United States, indictable and triable in the district to which a removal is sought. There is no discretion reposed when such a case is made out. That bail had been given would not prevent removal, for ...


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