RIGGINS V. UNITED STATES, 199 U. S. 547 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Riggins v. United States, 199 U.S. 547 (1905)

Riggins v. United States

No. 169

Submitted November 9, 1905

Decided December 11, 1905

199 U.S. 547


The writ of habeas corpus will not issue unless the court under whose warrant petitioner is held is without jurisdiction, nor can the writ be used merely to correct errors.

The writ will not be granted when there is a remedy by writ of error or appeal, except in rare and exceptional cases, and where, as in this case, nothing in the record discloses special circumstances justifying a departure from the regular course, the writ should be quashed and the petition dismissed.

Riggins and Powell were indicted under §§ 5508, 5509, Revised Statutes, in the District Court for the Northern Division of the Northern District of Alabama at the October term, 1904, thereof, and on the twenty-fourth day of October, 1904, the indictment was remitted to the next session of the circuit court in and for that division and district by order of the circuit court, the district judge presiding. A capias was issued to take Riggins into custody to answer the indictment, October 26, 1904. On the same day, a severance was ordered as between Powell and Riggins, and thereupon Riggins filed his petition for habeas corpus; the writ was issued; the marshal made his return; the circuit court, held by the district judge, heard the case, and discharged the writ, and remanded Riggins to custody; a bill of exceptions was signed and sealed, and an appeal to this Court was prayed, allowed, and perfected, by the giving of a bond in the penal sum of $250, which was approved by the judge; certificate of certain questions of jurisdiction was filed, as also assignments of error, and a citation was issued and served, all on the said twenty-sixth day of October, 1904. The opinion of the district judge will be found reported 134 F.4d 4.

Page 199 U. S. 548

The petition for habeas corpus alleged that Riggins was restrained of his liberty by the United States marshal under the capias issued on the indictment, a copy of which capias was attached, as also a copy of the indictment. That indictment in brief set up that Riggins and others entered into a conspiracy to take one Maples, a citizen of the United States, of African descent, from the state officers, to whose custody he had been lawfully committed under a charge of murder, and to hang him until he was dead, and that said conspiracy was formed and its purpose executed because Maples was of African descent. The petition averred that the indictment charged no offense punishable under the laws of the United States; that the indictment did not show that Riggins had violated any right, privilege, or immunity guaranteed to Maples under the Constitution of the United States, or that any federal law was violated providing for the punishment of such offense, and that it did not appear from the indictment that the conspiracy, combination, or confederation therein alleged was formed or entered into under any law of the State of Alabama, or that any law of that state authorized its citizens or other persons to enter into any conspiracy to injure, threaten, or oppress Maples by denying to him, by reason of his race, the right, privilege, and immunity of a trial by jury to determine his guilt or innocence on an indictment for murder pending against him in the courts of Alabama.

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