MATTOX V. UNITED STATES, 156 U. S. 237 (1895)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mattox v. United States, 156 U.S. 237 (1895)

Mattox v. United States

No. 667

Submitted December 10, 1895

Decided February 4, 1895

156 U.S. 237


Caha v. United States, 152 U. S. 211, followed in holding that the homicide in question in this case, having been committed in December, 1889, before the passage of the act organizing the Territory of Oklahoma, was properly cognizable in the Judicial District of Kansas.

When a person accused of the crime of murder is tried in a District Court of the United States, and is convicted, and the conviction is set aside by this Court and a new trial ordered, a properly verified copy of the reporter's stenographic notes of the testimony of a witness for the government at the former trial who was then fully examined and cross-examined, and who died after the first trial and before the second, may be admitted in evidence against the accused on the second trial.

The Constitution should be interpreted in the light of the law as it existed at the time it was adopted, not as reaching out for new guaranties of the rights of the citizen, but as securing to every individual such as he already possessed as a British subject -- such as his ancestors had inherited and defended since the days of Magna Charta.

Before a witness can be impeached by proof that he has made statements contradicting or differing from the testimony given by him upon the stand, a foundation must be laid by interrogating the witness himself as to whether he has ever made such statements.

Plaintiff in error was convicted on January 16, 1894, in the district court of the United States for the district of Kansas, of the murder of one John Mullen, which was alleged to have

Page 156 U. S. 238

been committed on December 12, 1889,

"within that part of the Indian Territory lying north of the Canadian river and east of Texas and the 100th meridian, not set apart and occupied by the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Indian tribes, . . . the same being a place and district of country under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, and within the exclusive jurisdiction of this court."

The indictment was returned to the September term, 1891, of the District Court at Wichita, at which term defendant was first tried and convicted. From this conviction, he sued out a writ of error from this Court, which reversed the judgment of the District Court and remanded the case for a new trial. 146 U. S. 140. The case was continued until the December Term, 1893, at which term plaintiff was again put upon his trial, and again convicted, whereupon he sued out this writ of error.

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