DIMMICK V. TOMPKINS, 194 U. S. 540 (1904)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dimmick v. Tompkins, 194 U.S. 540 (1904)

Dimmick v. Tompkins

No. 628

Submitted May 16, 1904

Decided May 31, 1904

194 U.S. 540


An appeal directly to this Court from the Circuit Court denying a writ of habeas corpus is proper where the petition contains averments that the imprisonment is in violation of the federal Constitution.

A sentence at hard labor in the state prison does not commence until the person sentenced is taken to the prison, and if, by his own efforts to obtain a review and reversal of the judgment, he secures a supersedeas pending appeal, his detention meanwhile in the county jail cannot be counted as a part of the time of imprisonment in the state prison.

Although, for some purposes, different counts in an indictment may be regarded as in effect separate indictments, where there is nothing to show

Page 194 U. S. 541

that the court was without jurisdiction to impose a sentence of two years for the crime of which the defendant was convicted, this Court will not presume that the sentence was for not exceeding one year on each of the two counts on which he was convicted, thus making the sentences in the state prison at hard labor illegal under Rev.Stat. §§ 5541, 5546, 5547. In re Mills, 135 U. S. 263, distinguished.

A writ of habeas corpus to release the petitioner from imprisonment cannot be made to do the office of a writ of error, and this Court will not on such a proceeding review errors of law on the part of the trial court.

This Court may take judicial notice of its own records in proceedings formerly had by the parties to proceedings before it.

Dimmick, the appellant, presented his petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the Circuit Court of the United States, Northern District of California. The petition was denied, and an appeal taken to this Court from the order denying the application. The appellant alleged in his petition for the writ that he was unlawfully imprisoned in the state prison of the State of California; that the imprisonment was illegal and in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, Article V of the amendments to the same; that, on October 16, 1901, he was sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison on by the District Court of the United States in and for the Northern District of California for the period of two years, to date from the sixteenth day of October, 1901; that he had been imprisoned, under the judgment, in the state prison ever since April 13, 1903, and that, prior thereto, and from the date of the judgment to April 13, 1903, he was imprisoned, under said judgment, in the county jail of the County of Alameda by the order of the district court.

The appellant also alleged that, notwithstanding the foregoing facts, the warden refused to discharge or release him from imprisonment, although the term of said imprisonment expired, according to its terms, on October 16, 1903. The appellant then set forth in the petition a copy of the record of the proceedings of the district court of the United States which showed that he was convicted in the district court on the sixteenth of October, 1901, of making and presenting a false claim, as charged in the first count of the indictment, and of using a portion of the public moneys of the United States for

Page 194 U. S. 542

a purpose not prescribed by law, as charged in the fourth count, and that he was sentenced

"to be imprisoned at hard labor for the term of two years from October 16, 1901, and it is further ordered that said sentence of imprisonment be executed upon the said Walter N. Dimmick by imprisonment in the state prison of the State of California at San Quentin, Marin County, California."

The record was signed by the district judge who held the court.

The petition also set forth a copy of the indictment under which the trial was had. It was founded upon sections 5438 and 5497 of the United States Revised Statutes, and charged, in substance, the presentation to the cashier of the mint at San Francisco of a certain false, fictitious, and fraudulent claim against the United States, and known to be fraudulent by the defendant at the time he presented it; also, with having unlawfully used a portion of the public moneys for a purpose not prescribed by law. The appellant averred that neither the first nor the fourth count charged any crime or public offense against the United States nor the violation of any law of the United States, and that both counts were fatally defective. The appellant also averred that the judgment of the court, in as far as it required his imprisonment in the state prison, was void because the United States district court sentenced him for one year, and no more, upon each of the two counts of the indictment referred to in the judgment, and did not sentence him to imprisonment for a period of more than one year upon each of said counts, and that a sentence to the state prison for a period of not more than one year violated the statutes of the United States.

Page 194 U. S. 546

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