BASSET V. UNITED STATES, 76 U. S. 38 (1869)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Basset v. United States, 76 U.S. 9 Wall. 38 38 (1869)

Basset v. United States

76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 38


1. Where a court sitting in place of a jury finds the facts, this Court cannot review that finding.

2. A plea of nul tiel record raises a question of law, where the supposed record is of the court in which the plea is filed.

3. Therefore, where the record relied on is produced in such a case, and made part of the record by a statement of facts agreed on, it is a question of law whether it supports or fails to support the plea, and can be reviewed in this Court.

4. It is competent for a court, for good cause, to set aside, at the same term at which it was rendered, a judgment of conviction on confession, though the defendant had entered upon the imprisonment ordered by the sentence.

5. In such case the original indictment is still pending, and a bail bond given after this, for the prisoner's appearance from day to day, is valid.

The United States sued Basset and another on a recognizance of bail, to which they pleaded two pleas:

Page 76 U. S. 39

1. That there was no record of any such recognizance in the court.

2. That there was no indictment, as recited in said recognizance, pending against their principal when the recognizance was entered into, because they say that he had pleaded guilty to the indictment, and judgment had passed against him, and he had been delivered to the jail of Erie County, and had entered upon the expiation of his sentence.

The United States took issue on both these pleas, and the case was submitted to the court without a jury.

1. In respect to the first plea, the production of the record of the case showed that the recognizance was taken, and remained among the rolls and records of the court, so that there seemed nothing in the plea.

2. As regarded the second, it appeared by the record that to the indictment which the prisoner was held to answer by the recognizance, he had at an earlier period of the same term pleaded guilty, and had been sentenced to imprisonment in the jail of Erie County for six months, and was sent to that prison. But a few days after, on motion of the district attorney, he was brought back on a writ of habeas corpus. When he was thus brought again into court, on motion of the district attorney, the former judgment was set aside, and the prisoner had leave to withdraw his plea of guilty formerly entered. It was after this was done that the recognizance on which this action was brought was given, conditioned for the appearance of the prisoner from day to day during the term; and on his failing to appear the second day, his recognizance was declared to be forfeited. All of this took place during the same term of the court.

The court below decided that there was a record of the recognizance denied by the first plea, and that there was no such record of conviction and sentence as that set up in the second plea. On motion of defendants a new trial was granted, which was also by the court, and on this trial a statement of facts, agreed to and signed by counsel for both parties, was presented to the court, on which it rendered the same judgment that it had before. This statement of facts consisted

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of extracts from the records of the court, and it was upon the inspection of this record that the court decided the case.

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