Tennessee v. Davis

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Court Documents
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

100 U.S. 257

Tennessee  v.  Davis

CERTIFICATE of division in opinion between the judges of the Circuit Court of the United States for the Middle District of Tennessee.

James M. Davis, was, in the Circuit Court for Grundy County, in the State of Tennessee, indicted for murder. On the twenty-ninth day of August, 1878, before the trial of the indictment, he presented to the Circuit Court of the United States for the proper district the following petition, praying for a removal of the case into that court, and for a certiorari:--'Your petitioner, James M. Davis, would most respectfully show to the court that on the twenty-first day of May, 1878, at the May Term of the Circuit Court of Grundy County, Tennessee, the grand jurors for the State of Tennessee, at the instance of E. M. Haynes, as prosecutor, indicted your petitioner for wilfully, premeditatedly, deliberately, and of his malice aforethought killing one J. B. Haynes, which indictment and criminal prosecution so instituted is still pending against your petitioner in the Circuit Court of Grundy County, within the middle district of Tennessee.

'And he further shows that no murder was committed; but, on the other hand, the killing was committed in his own necessary self-defence, to save his own life; that at the time the alleged act for which he was indicted was committed he was, and still is, an officer of the United States, to wit, a deputy collector of internal revenue, and the act for which he was indicted was performed in his own necessary self-defence, while engaged in the discharge of the duties of his office as deputy collector of internal revenue; and he was acting by and under the authority of the internal-revenue laws of the United States, and was done under and by right of his office, to wit, as deputy collector of internal revenue. It is his duty to seize illicit distilleries and the apparatus that is being used for the illicit and unlawful distillation of spirits, and while so attempting to enforce the revenue laws of the United States, as deputy collector aforesaid, he was assaulted and fired upon by a number ov armed men, and in defence of his life returned the fire.

In view of these facts, your petitioner prays that said cause may be removed from the Circuit Court of Grundy County to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Middle District of Tennessee for trial, and that a certiorari issue. And as in duty bound he will ever pray.

'JAMES A. WARDER, Attorney.


'County of Davidson:

'James M. Davis, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he is the petitioner named in said petition; that he has heard the same read, and knows the contents thereof, and that the same is true of his own knowledge.


'Subscribed and sworn to before me this Aug. 13, 1878.


U.S.C.om'r for Middle Tenn.The record having been returned, in compliance with the writ, a motion was made to remand the case to the State court; and, on the hearing of the motion, the judges were divided in opinion upon the following questions, which are certified here:--

First, whether an indictment of a revenue officer (of the United States) for murder, found in a State court, under the facts alleged in the petition for removal in this case, is removable to the Circuit Court of the United States, under sect. 643 of the Revised Statutes.

Second, whether, if removable from the State court, there is any mode and manner of procedure in the trial prescribed by the act of Congress.

Third, Whether, if not, a trial of the guilt or innocence of the defendant can be had in the United States Circuit Court.

Mr. Benjamin J. Lea, Attorney-General of Tennessee, and Mr. James G. Field for the plaintiff in error.

Mr. Attorney-General Devens and Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Smith, contra.

MR. JUSTICE STRONG delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).