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RODRIGUEZ v. UNITED STATES

May 1, 1905

RODRIGUEZ
v.
UNITED STATES



ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF PORTO RICO

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, Brown, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day

Author: Harlan

[ 198 U.S. Page 161]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

The first question is one of the jurisdiction of this court to re-examine the judgment below -- the Government insisting that we are without jurisdiction.

We are of opinion that this question is settled by Crowley v. United States, 194 U.S. 461, 462, which was a criminal prosecution for the violation of certain statutes of the United States relating to the postal service.

By the act of April 12, 1900, 31 Stat. 77, 85, c. 191, establishing a civil government for Porto Rico, it was provided that, except as otherwise provided, the statutory laws of the United States shall have the same force and effect in Porto Rico as in

[ 198 U.S. Page 162]

     the United States; also, that writs of error and appeals may be prosecuted from the final decisions of the District Court of the United States for Porto Rico "in all cases where . . . an act of Congress is brought in question and the right claimed thereunder is denied." Section 35. The same act provided that the United States Court for Porto Rico shall have jurisdiction "of all cases cognizant in the Circuit Court of the United States, and shall proceed therein in the same manner as a Circuit Court." Section 34. In Crowley's case the contention of the accused, based upon a plea in abatement, was that certain members of the jury finding the indictment were disqualified under the local law to serve as grand jurors, and that the statutes of the United States made it the duty of the District Court to follow the local law in that respect. Referring to the above act, we said: "In this case that act was brought in question by the contention of the parties -- the contention of the accused being, in substance, that pursuant to that act of Congress the court below, in the matter of the qualifications of grand jurors, should have been controlled by the provisions of the local law relating to jurors, in connection with the statutes of the United States relating to the organization of grand juries and the trial and disposition of criminal causes; and the court below deciding that, notwithstanding the Foraker act, the local act of January 31, 1891, referred to in the plea, was not applicable to this prosecution, and that the grand jury finding the indictment, if a grand jury was necessary, was organized consistently with the laws of the United States under which the court proceeded. It thus appears that the accused claimed a right under the act of Congress and under the Revised Statutes of the United States, which, it is alleged, was denied to him in the court below. This court has, therefore, jurisdiction to inquire whether there is anything of substance in that claim."

As the Porto Rican statutes contain no provisions relating to the selection, drawing or impaneling of grand jurors, it was, as the accused contends in this case, the duty of the District

[ 198 U.S. Page 163]

     Court of the United States for Porto Rico in criminal prosecutions for crimes against the United States, to keep in view section 800 of the Revised Statutes, which provides: "Jurors to serve in the courts of the United States, in each State respectively, shall have the same qualifications, subject to the provisions hereinafter contained, and be entitled to the same exemptions, as jurors of the highest court of law in such State may have and be entitled to at the time when such jurors for service in the courts of the United States are summoned; and they shall be designated by ballot, lot, or otherwise, according to the mode of forming such juries then practiced in such state court, so far as such mode may be practicable by the courts of the United States or the officers thereof. And for this purpose the said courts may, by rule or order, conform the designation and impaneling of juries, in substance, to the laws and usages relating to jurors in the state courts, from time to time in force in such State."

It was also its duty, in such prosecutions, to conform to the act of Congress of June 30, 1879, 21 Stat. 43, c. 52, which provides that jurors to serve in the courts of the United States "shall be publicly drawn from a box containing, at the time of each drawing, the names of not less than three hundred persons, possessing the qualifications prescribed in section 800 of the Revised Statutes, which names shall have been placed therein by the clerk of such court and a commissioner, to be appointed by the judge thereof, which commissioner shall be a citizen of good standing, residing in the district in which such court is held, and a well-known member of the principal political party in the district in which the court is held opposing that to which the clerk may belong, the clerk and said commissioner each to place one name in said box ...


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