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FARNSWORTH v. TERRITORY MONTANA.

decided: January 14, 1889.

FARNSWORTH
v.
TERRITORY OF MONTANA.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY OF MONTANA.

Author: Blatchford

[ 129 U.S. Page 109]

 MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD, after stating the case as above reported, delivered the opinion of the court.

It is very clear that this is a criminal case; and the question arises whether there is any authority for the review by this court of the decision of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Montana, in a criminal case. We have been furnished with a brief on this subject by the counsel for the plaintiff in error; but we are unable to find any statutory authority for the jurisdiction of this court in this case.

Section 702 of the Revised Statutes provides as follows: "The final judgments and decrees of the Supreme Court of any Territory, except the Territory of Washington, in cases where the value of the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, to be ascertained by the oath of either party, or of other competent witnesses, exceeds one thousand dollars, may be reviewed and reversed or affirmed in the Supreme Court, upon writ of error or appeal, in the same manner and under the same regulations as the final judgments and decrees of a Circuit Court. In the Territory of Washington, the value of the matter in dispute must exceed two thousand dollars, exclusive of costs. And any final judgment or decree of the Supreme Court of said Territory in any cause [when] the Constitution or a statute or

[ 129 U.S. Page 110]

     treaty of the United States is brought in question may be reviewed in like manner."

Section 1909 of the Revised Statutes provides, that writs of error and appeals from the final decisions of the Supreme Court of any one of eight named Territories, of which Montana is one, "shall be allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States, in the same manner and under the same regulations as from the Circuit Courts of the United States, where the value of the property or the amount in controversy, to be ascertained by the oath of either party, or of other competent witnesses, exceeds one thousand dollars, except that a writ of error or appeal shall be allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States upon writs of habeas corpus involving the question of personal freedom."

Section 1911 of the Revised Statutes relates exclusively to writs of error and appeals from Washington Territory. Section 709 applies only to a writ of error to review a final judgment or decree in a suit in the highest court of a State.

In Snow v. United States, 118 U.S. 346, these sections, 702, 709, 1909, and 1911, were considered in reference to their application to a criminal case from the Territory of Utah, other than a capital case or a case of bigamy or polygamy, writs of error in which were provided for by § 3 of the act of June 23, 1874, 18 Stat. 253; and the reasons there given why they did not apply to or cover such a criminal case, show that they do not apply to or cover a criminal case from the Territory of Montana.

Reference is made by the plaintiff in error to the case of Watts v. Territory of Washington, 91 U.S. 580, which was a criminal case from the Territory of Washington, in which it did not appear that the Constitution or any statute or treaty of the United States had been brought in question. The jurisdiction of this court in the case was questioned, as not being embraced by the last clase of § 702 of the Revised Statutes, before quoted. This court dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction, saying that it could only review the final judgments of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Washington in criminal cases, when the Constitution or a statute or treaty

[ 129 U.S. Page 111]

     of the United States was drawn in question. The decision in the case did not uphold the jurisdiction of this court in a criminal case where the Constitution or a statute or treaty of the United States was drawn in question, and the language of the court in that respect was obiter dictum.

It is sought, however, to uphold the jurisdiction in this case under the provisions of the act of March 3d, 1885, 23 Stat. 443, which reads as follows: "No appeal or writ of error shall hereafter be allowed from any judgment or decree in any suit at law or in equity in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, or in the Supreme Court of any of the Territories of the United ...


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