HOWARD V. KENTUCKY, 200 U. S. 164 (1906)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Howard v. Kentucky, 200 U.S. 164 (1906)

Howard v. Kentucky

No. 77

Argued November 10, 13, 1905

Decided January 2, 1906

200 U.S. 164


The provisions of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the federal Constitution do not apply to proceedings in the state courts.

A state cannot be deemed guilty of violating its obligations under the Constitution of the United States because of a decision, even if erroneous, of its highest court, if acting within its jurisdiction.

While the words "due process of law," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, protect fundamental rights, the Amendment was not intended to interfere with the power of the state to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, nor with the power of adjudication of its courts in administering the process provided by the law of the state.

In discharging a juror in a murder trial before he was sworn, for cause sufficient to the court, and after questioning him in absence of accused and counsel but with the consent of his counsel, and substituting another juror equally competent, held, that the accused was not denied due process of law within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

It is the law of Kentucky that occasional absence of the accused from the trial from which no injury results to his substantial rights is not reversible error.

Page 200 U. S. 165

The Criminal Code of Kentucky, § 281, provides that decisions of the trial court upon challenges shall not be subject to exception, and as the highest court of the state in deciding that, even though the action of the trial court in regard to the juror had been error it could not reverse under § 281, followed the construction of that section established by prior cases, it did not make a discriminating application of the section against the accused, and he was not therefore deprived of the equal protection of the laws.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 200 U. S. 170

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