TRONO V. UNITED STATES, 199 U. S. 521 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Trono v. United States, 199 U.S. 521 (1905)

Trono v. United States

No. 34

Argued October 31, 1905

Decided December 4, 1905

199 U.S. 521


Plaintiffs in error were tried for murder in the court of first instance in the Philippine Islands and were acquitted of the crime of murder and convicted of the crime of assault and were sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a fine. They appealed to the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands, which reversed that judgment and found them guilty of homicide and sentenced them to various terms from eight to fourteen years' imprisonment and a fine. On a writ of error seeking to review the judgment on the ground that the action of the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands amounted to putting the accused in second jeopardy, held that:

There is a vital difference between an attempt of the government to review a verdict of acquittal in the court of first instance and the action of the accused in himself appealing from a judgment which convicts him of one offense while acquitting him from the higher one charged in the indictment. Kepner v. United States, 195 U. S. 100, distinguished.

Where, upon the indictment of a greater offense, the one accused is found not guilty thereof, but guilty of a lower offense included therein, and upon appeal from that judgment a new trial is granted by the appellate court, the accused can, on the new trial, be tried for the greater offense in the indictment, and such new trial does not amount to placing him in jeopardy a second time for the same offense within the meaning of the federal Constitution or of the provisions in that regard in the Philippine Act of July 1, 1902, 32 Stat. 691.

The appeal of the accused in such case amounts to a waiver to the plea of second jeopardy by asking that he be again tried for the offense for which he has once been convicted, and if that request be granted, he must take the burden with the benefit, and go back for the new trial upon the whole case.

Quaere whether the constitutional provision against second jeopardy was intended to apply to a judgment under these circumstances.

In reversing the lower court and itself convicting the accused on such appeal, the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands acted within its powers, and in ordinary procedure in the courts of that country under the Act of July 1, 1902.

The plaintiffs in error were proceeded against in the court

Page 199 U. S. 522

of first instance of the Province of Bulacan, Philippine Islands, upon a complaint accusing them of causing the death of Benito Perez "with great cruelty and evident premeditation . . . by means of blows given with the butts of guns, they cooperating one with the other." In other words, the accused were complained of as guilty of murder in the first degree.

They were tried in the court above mentioned, and were acquitted of the crime of murder, and convicted of the crime of assault, which is included in the crime of murder charged in the complaint, and they were therefore sentenced by the court to suffer a penalty of six months' imprisonment, and to pay a certain sum to the heirs of Perez, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

All three of the accused appealed to the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands from the judgment and sentence of the trial court. The Supreme Court, having heard the case, reversed the judgment of the court of first instance and convicted the accused of the crime of homicide (in substance, murder in the second degree), which is included in, and is a lower degree of, the crime charged in the complaint, but is a higher degree of crime than that of which the accused were convicted in the court below. Two of them (Angeles and Trono) were sentenced to fourteen years, eight months, and one day, and Natividad to imprisonment for eight years and one day, and all three to the payment of an indemnity to the heirs of the deceased.

The accused have brought the case here by writ of error to the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands, for the purpose of reviewing the judgment of that court.

Messrs. Aldis B. Browne, Alexander Britton, and Maurice Kelly for plaintiffs in error.

Page 199 U. S. 528

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