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BASSO v. UNITED STATES

January 17, 1916

BASSO
v.
UNITED STATES



APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS

White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney; McReynolds took no part in the consideration and decision of this case.

Author: Mckenna

[ 239 U.S. Page 604]

 MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.

Appellant is a Spanish subject who resided, at the time his alleged cause of action accrued and at the time his petition was filed in the Court of Claims, in the Island of Porto Rico.

Porto Rico was ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris, ratifications of which were exchanged April 11, 1899. The Island was occupied by the military forces of the United States prior to January 1, 1899, and February 1, 1899, the President of the United States by order promulgated the "Amended Customs Tariff and Regulations for Ports in Porto Rico," which fixed and provided for the collection of duties upon all articles imported into

[ 239 U.S. Page 605]

     Porto Rico. And duties were collected thereafter in accordance with such tariff and the amendments thereto made from time to time until May 1, 1900.

Certain officers of the army were designated to act and did act as collectors of customs under such tariff at the several ports of entry in Porto Rico and enforced such tariff upon merchandise brought into Porto Rico from the United States and from foreign countries.

Under authority of general order No. 88 the general commanding in the Island established a provisional court of the United States for the Department of Porto Rico.

On or about July 13, 1899, by information filed by the prosecuting officer of the provisional court, appellant was charged before that court with the crime of having imported from the United States into Porto Rico certain merchandise without having made entry of the same in the custom house and without having paid duty thereon. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and the case was set for trial.

At the trial he entered a plea that ยงยง 2865 and 3082 of the Revised Statutes of the United States were without force or effect in Porto Rico, that the latter was part of the United States and that there was no warrant in law for imposing duties on goods brought from the United States into the Island.

The defenses were not allowed, he was found guilty, sentenced to imprisonment and was imprisoned for twenty-seven days.

He alleged the foregoing facts in his petition and that he suffered damages thereby in the sum of $10,000, $7,500 general and $2,500 special damages. That he is advised by counsel that the act for which he was accused and condemned did not then constitute a crime; that the said sections of the Revised Statutes of the United States under which the ...


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