Imágenes de páginas

Opinion of the Court.

of the general route of the Union Pacific Railway, passed over the telegraph line constructed on the north side of that route by the railroad company, but operated by the telegraph company, rather than over the line, on the south side of that route, owned by the telegraph company. No such presumption can be justified upon any principle of right or justice.

The telegraph company had a line of its own on the right of way of the railway company, with the consent of the United States. It accepted the provisions of the act of Congress giving the Postmaster General authority to fix the rates to be charged for any business transacted for the Government. But it neither expressly nor impliedly agreed that, when no directions in the matter were given by the representative of the Government, it would transmit all messages, on behalf of the Government, from or to points on either side of the route of the Union Pacific Railway, over the telegraph line constructed by the railroad company, rather than over the line owned by itself. In the absence of such directions, the telegraph company was at liberty to send such messages over its own line at the rates established by the Postmaster General. If it did so, the Government was probably benefited rather than injured; for the rates fixed by the Postmaster General were less than the ordinary rates, known as commercial rates, charged against private persons, and which the railway company, by its charter, was entitled to charge for public messages sent over its telegraph line. If, in the absence of any direction not to do so, the telegraph company actually used, for the purpose of transmitting a public message, the line constructed by the railroad company, there can be no doubt that the sum due therefor could be retained by the United States and applied as indicated in the act of 1878; for the telegraph company, notwithstanding the agreement of July 1, 1881, would be bound to take notice of the fact that that telegraph line was constructed with the aid of the Government, and that its earnings on account of public business were dedicated by Congress to specific purposes.

It results that, although the United States was entitled to retain and apply, as directed by Congress, all sums due from

Statement of the Case.

the Government, on account of the use by the telegraph company, for public business, of the telegraph line constructed by the railroad company, the entire absence of proof as to the extent to which that line was, in fact, so used, renders it impossible to ascertain the amount improperly paid to, and without right retained by, the telegraph company, and subsequently divided between it and the railroad company. Upon this ground, we adjudge that the court below did not err in directing a verdict for the defendants.

The judgment is


GOLDSBY, alias Cherokee Bill, v. UNITED STATES.


No. 620. Submitted October 21, 1895. Decided December 2, 1895.

There is nothing in this case to take it out of the ruling in Isaacs v. United States, 159 U. S. 487, that an application for a continuance is not ordinarily subject to review by this court.

In the trial of a person accused of crime the exercise by the trial court of its discretion to direct or refuse to direct witnesses for the defendant to be summoned at the expense of the United States is not subject to review by this court.

Moore v. United States, 150 U. S. 57, 61, affirmed and applied to a question raised in this case.

While it is competent, if a proper foundation has been laid, to impeach a witness by proving statements made by him, that cannot be done by proving statements made by another person, not a witness in the case. It is within the discretion of the trial court to allow the introduction of evidence, obviously rebuttal, even if it should have been more properly introduced in the opening, and, in the absence of gross abuse, its exercise of this discretion is not reviewable.

Rev. Stat. § 1033 does not require notice to be given of the names of witnesses, called in rebuttal.

If the defendant in a criminal case wishes specific charges as to the weight to be attached in law to testimony introduced to establish an alibi, he may ask the court to give them; and, if he fails to do so, the failure by the court to give such instruction cannot be assigned as error.

THE plaintiff was indicted on the 8th of February, 1895,

Statement of the Case.

for the murder of Ernest Melton, a white man and not an Indian. The crime was charged to have been committed at the "Cherokee Nation in the Indian country on the 18th day of November, 1894." Prior to empanelling the jury on the 23d of February, 1895, the accused filed two affidavits for continuance until the next term of court. The first, filed on the 12th of February, 1895, based on the ground that for some time prior to the finding of the indictment the defendant had been in jail, was sick, and unable properly to prepare his defence, and that he was informed if further time were given him, there were witnesses, whose names were not disclosed in the application, who could be produced to establish that he was not guilty as charged. This was overruled. The second was filed on the 22d day of February, upon the ground that four witnesses, whom the court had allowed to be summoned at government expense, were not in attendance, and that there were others, whose names were given, who could prove his innocence, and who could be produced if the case were continued until the next term of court; the affidavit made no statement that the four witnesses had been actually found at the places indicated, and gave no reason for their non-attendance, and asked no compulsory process to secure it.

Before the trial the accused filed three requests for leave to summon a number of witnesses at government expense. The first was made on the 12th of February, and asked for twentyfive; the affidavit made by the accused gave the naines of the witnesses and the substance of what was expected to be proven by them. The court allowed fifteen. Of the ten witnesses disallowed, two were government witnesses, and were already summoned; seven were the wives of witnesses whom the court ordered summoned, the affidavit stating that the husband and wife were relied on to prove the same fact; the other witness disallowed, the affidavit disclosed, was also relied on simply to corroborate the testimony of some of the witnesses who were allowed. The second request was made on the 16th of February, asking for six witnesses, all of whom were ordered to be summoned. The third request was made on the 19th of February for two additional witnesses, one Harris and wife.

Opinion of the Court.

This application was refused, both being government wit


On the trial the uncontradicted testimony on behalf of the government was that at about noon, on the day stated, two men robbed a store at a town in the Indian Territory, and that during the course of the robbery the murder was committed by one of those engaged therein. The testimony for the prosecution tended to identify the accused not only as having been one of the robbers, but also as being the one by whom the murder was committed. The testimony for the defence tended to disprove that of the government, which identified the accused, and tended, moreover, by proof of an alibi, to demonstrate the impossibility of the offence having been committed by him. There was a verdict of guilty as charged. The defendant brought the case by error here.

Mr. William M. Cravens for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Whitney for defendant in


MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

There are fourteen assignments of error. Two address themselves to the refusal of the court to grant the applications for continuance; three to the action of the court in denying the request to summon certain witnesses at government expense; four relate to rulings of the court, admitting or rejecting testimony; and, finally, five to errors asserted to have been committed by the court in its charge to the jury. We will consider these various matters under their respective headings.

In a recent case we said: "That the action of a trial court upon an application for continuance is purely a matter of discretion not subject to review by this court, unless it be clearly shown that such discretion has been abused, is settled by too many authorities to be now open to question." Isaacs v. United States, 159 U. S. 487, and authorities there cited. We can see nothing in the action on the applications for continu

Opinion of the Court.

ance, which we have recited in the statement of facts, to take it out of the control of this rule. The contention at bar

that because there had been no preliminary examination of the accused, he was thereby deprived of his constitutional guarantee to be confronted by the witnesses, by mere statement demonstrates its error.

There was likewise no error in the action of the court in relation to the various requests to summon witnesses at government expense; on the contrary, the fullest latitude was allowed the accused. Were it otherwise, the right to summon witnesses at the expense of the government is by the statute, Rev. Stat. § 878, left to the discretion of the trial court, and the exercise of such discretion is not reviewable here. Crumpton v. United States, 138 U. S. 361, 364.

There was proof showing that at the time of the robbery a watch charm had been taken by the accused from one of the persons present in the house which was robbed. This charm was produced by a witness for the prosecution, who testified that it had been given him by one Verdigris Kid, whom the testimony tended to show had participated in the robbery; that this giving of the charm to the witness had taken place in the presence of the accused; that at the time it was given the fact of the robbery was talked of by the accused, he saying: "That he had made a little hold up and got about one hundred and sixty-four dollars as well as I remember, and that he had shot a fellow, I believe." To the introduction of the watch charm objection was made. We think it was clearly admissible and came directly under the rule announced in Moore v. United States, 150 U. S. 57, 61. John Schufeldt, the son of the man whose store was robbed, in his testimony on behalf of the government, identified the accused not only as one of the robbers but also as the one by whom the murder was committed. He was asked, on cross-examination, whether he had heard his father, in the presence of a Mr. John Rose, say that the robbers were, one an Indian, and the other a white man. He answered that he did not recollect hearing him make such a statement. On the opening of the defendant's case, Schufeldt was recalled for further cross-examination, and the question was again asked

« AnteriorContinuar »