UNITED STATES V. BUCHANAN, 232 U. S. 72 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Buchanan, 232 U.S. 72 (1914)

United States v. Buchanan

No. 589

Argued December 3, 1913

Decided January 5, 1914

232 U.S. 72


The term "public lands subject to settlement or entry" does not include lands that have been entered and a certificate of entry obtained therefor, and § 3 of the Act of February 25, 1885, c. 149, 23 Stat. 322, does not apply to such lands.

An entry withdraws the land from entry or settlement by another and segregates it from the public domain, and the possessory right acquired by the entryman is in the nature of private property, and entitled to protection as such, and interference with the peaceable possession of the entryman is not punishable under a federal statute applicable only to public lands still subject to entry.

The grand jury for the District of Colorado indicted Buchanan for a violation of the act "to prevent unlawful occupancy of the public land." The indictment charged that, in February, 1907, one Edward Scott made a homestead entry at the proper office of a quarter-section of land in Colorado, and died, March 28, 1910, leaving the homestead entry in full force and effect; that thereafter,

"his heirs were in lawful possession of and were engaged in cultivating the said homestead land for the purpose of protecting their right as heirs to the same, until May 9, 1911, when the defendant, Buchanan, willfully, wickedly, unlawfully, and feloniously did prevent and obstruct said heirs from peaceably entering upon and establishing a settlement and residence on the said homesteaded land of the United States subject to settlement and entry under the public land laws."

The defendant demurred on the ground that the facts charged did not constitute an offense punishable under § 3 of the Act of February 25, 1885, 23 Stat. 322, c. 149, which provides:

Page 232 U. S. 73

"SEC. 3. That no person, by force, threats, intimidation, or by any fencing or enclosing, or any other unlawful means, shall prevent or obstruct, . . . any person from peaceably entering upon or establishing a settlement or residence on any tract of public land subject to settlement or entry under the public land laws of the United States."

The defendant's demurrer was sustained, and the government brought the case here under the Criminal Appeals Act.

Page 232 U. S. 74

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