In re Neagle

No. 1472 Argued: March 4, 5, 1890 --- Decided: April 14, 1890
MR. JUSTICE MILLER, after stating the case as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

If it be true, as stated in the order of the court discharging the prisoner, that he was held

in custody for an act done in pursuance of a law of the United States, and in custody in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States,

there does not seem to be any doubt that, under the statute on that subject, he was properly discharged by the Circuit Court.

Section 753 of the Revised Statutes reads as follows:

The writ of habeas corpus shall in no case extend to a prisoner in jail unless where he is in custody under or by color [p41] of the authority of the United States, or is committed for trial before some court thereof, or is in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States, or of an order, process, or decree of a court or judge thereof, or is in custody in violation of the Constitution or of a law or treaty of the United States, or, being a subject or citizen of a foreign State, and domiciled therein, is in custody for an act done or omitted under any alleged right, title, authority, privilege, protection, or exemption claimed under the commission, or order, or sanction of any foreign State, or under color thereof, the validity and effect whereof depend upon the law of nations, or unless it is necessary to bring the prisoner into court to testify.

And section 761 declares that when, by the writ of habeas corpus, the petitioner is brought up for a hearing, the

court or justice or judge shall proceed in a summary way to determine the facts of the case, by hearing the testimony and arguments, and thereupon to dispose of the party as law and justice require.

This, of course, means that, if he is held in custody in violation of the Constitution or a law of the United States, or for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States, he must be discharged.

By the law as it existed at the time of the enactment of the Revised Statutes, an appeal could be taken to the Circuit Court from any court of justice or judge inferior to the Circuit Court in a certain class of habeas corpus cases. But there was no appeal to the Supreme Court in any case except where the prisoner was the subject or citizen of a foreign State, and was committed or confined under the authority or law of the United States or of any State, on account of any act done or omitted to be done under the commission or authority of a foreign State, the validity of which depended upon the law of nations. But afterwards, by the act of Congress of March 3, 1885, 23 Stat. 437, this was extended by amendment as follows:

That section seven hundred and sixty-four of the Revised Statutes be amended so that the same shall read as follows: "From the final decision of such Circuit Court an appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court in the cases described in the preceding section." [p42]

The preceding section here referred to is section 763, and is the one on which the prisoner relies for his discharge from custody in this case.

It will be observed that, in both the provisions of the Revised Statutes and of this latter act of Congress, the mode of review, whether by the Circuit Court of the judgment of an inferior court or justice or judge or by this court of the judgment of a Circuit Court, the word " appeal," and not "writ of error," is used, and as Congress has always used these words with a clear understanding of what is meant by them, namely, that, by a writ of error, only questions of law are brought up for review, as in actions at common law, while by an appeal, except when specially provided otherwise, the entire case on both law and facts is to be reconsidered, there seems to be little doubt that, so far as it is essential to a proper decision of this case, the appeal requires us to examine into the evidence brought to sustain or defeat the right of the petitioner to his discharge.

The history of the incidents which led to the tragic event of the killing of Terry by the prisoner Neagle had its origin in a suit brought by William Sharon of Nevada, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California, against Sarah Althea Hill, alleged to be a citizen of California, for the purpose of obtaining a decree adjudging a certain instrument in writing, possessed and exhibited by her, purporting to be a declaration of marriage between them, under the code of California, to be a forgery, and to have it set aside and annulled. This suit, which was commenced October 3, 1883, was finally heard before Judge Sawyer, the Circuit Judge for that circuit, and Judge Deady, United States District Judge for Oregon, who had been duly appointed to assist in holding the Circuit Court for the District of California. The hearing was on September 29, 1885, and on the 15th of January, 1886, a decree was rendered granting the prayer of the bill. In that decree, it was declared that the instrument purporting to be a declaration of marriage, set out and described in the bill of complaint,

was not signed or executed at any time by William Sharon, the complainant; that it is not [p43] genuine; that it is false, counterfeited, fabricated, forged, and fraudulent, and, as such, is utterly null and void. And it is further ordered and decreed that the respondent, Sarah Althea Hill, deliver up and deposit with the clerk of the court said instrument, to be endorsed "cancelled," and that the clerk write across it "cancelled" and sign his name and affix his seal thereto.

The rendition of this decree was accompanied by two opinions, the principal one being written by Judge Deady and a concurring one by Judge Sawyer. They were very full in their statement of the fraud and forgery practised by Miss Hill, and stated that it was also accompanied by perjury. And inasmuch as Mr. Sharon had died between the hearing of the argument of the case on the 29th of September, 1885, and the time of rendering this decision, January 15, 1886, an order was made setting forth that fact and declaring that the decree was entered as of the date of the hearing, nunc pro tunc.

Nothing was done under this decree. The defendant, Sarah Althea Hill, did not deliver up the instrument to the clerk to be cancelled, but she continued to insist upon its use in the state court. Under these circumstances, Frederick W. Sharon, as the executor of the will of his father, William Sharon, filed in the Circuit Court for the Northern District of California, on March 12, 1888, a bill of revivor, stating the circumstances of the decree, the death of his father, and that the decree had not been performed; alleging also the intermarriage of Miss Hill with David S. Terry, of the city of Stockton in California, and making the said Terry and wife parties to this bill of revivor. The defendants both demurred and answered, resisting the prayer of the plaintiff, and denying that the petitioner was entitled to any relief.

This case was argued in the Circuit Court before Field, Circuit Justice, Sawyer, Circuit Judge, and Sabin, District Judge. While the matter was held under advisement, Judge Sawyer, on returning from Los Angeles, in the Southern District of California, where he had been holding court, found himself on the train as it left Fresno, which is understood to [p44] have been the residence of Terry and wife, in a car in which he noticed that Mr. and Mrs. Terry were in a section behind him, on the same side. On this trip from Fresno to San Francisco, Mrs. Terry grossly insulted Judge Sawyer, and had her husband change seats so as to sit directly in front of the Judge, while she passed him with insolent remarks, and pulled his hair with a vicious jerk, and then, in an excited manner, taking her seat by her husband's side, said: "I will give him a taste of what he will get by and by. Let him render this decision if he dares," -- the decision being the one already mentioned, then under advisement. Terry then made some remark about too many witnesses being in the car, adding that "The best thing to do with him would be to take him out into the bay and drown him." These incidents were witnessed by two gentlemen who knew all the parties, and whose testimony is found in the record before us.

This was August 14, 1888. On the 3d of September, the court rendered its decision granting the prayer of the bill of revivor in the name of Frederick W. Sharon and against Sarah Althea Terry and her husband, David S. Terry. The opinion was delivered by Mr. Justice Field, and, during its delivery, a scene of great violence occurred in the courtroom. It appears that, shortly before the court opened on that day, both the defendants in the case came into the courtroom and took seats within the bar at the table next the clerk's desk, and almost immediately in front of the judges. Besides Mr. Justice Field, there were present on the bench Judge Sawyer and Judge Sabin of the District Court of the United States for the District of Nevada. The defendants had denied the jurisdiction of the court originally to render the decree sought to be revived, and the opinion of the court necessarily discussed this question without reaching the merits of the controversy. When allusion was made to this question, Mrs. Terry rose from her seat and, addressing the justice who was delivering the opinion, asked in an excited manner whether he was going to order her to give up the marriage contract to be cancelled. Mr. Justice Field said: "Be seated, madam." She repeated the question, and was again told to be seated. She then said, [p45] in a very excited and violent manner, that Justice Field had been bought, and wanted to know the price he had sold himself for; that he had got Newland's money for it, and everybody knew that he had got it, or words to that effect. Mr. Justice Field then directed the marshal to remove her from the courtroom. She asserted that she would not go from the room, and that no one could take her from it.

Marshal Franks proceeded to carry out the order of the court by attempting to compel her to leave, when Terry, her husband, rose from his seat under great excitement, exclaiming that no man living should touch his wife, and struck the marshal a blow in his face so violent as to knock out a tooth. He then unbuttoned his coat, thrust his hand under his vest, apparently for the purpose of drawing a bowie knife, when he was seized by persons present and forced down on his back. In the meantime, Mrs. Terry was removed from the courtroom by the marshal, and Terry was allowed to rise and was accompanied by officers to the door leading to the marshal's office. As he was about leaving the room, or immediately after being out of it, he succeeded in drawing a bowie knife, when his arms were seized by a deputy marshal and others present to prevent him from using it, and they were able to wrench it from him only after a severe struggle. The most prominent person engaged in wresting the knife from Terry was Neagle, the prisoner now in court.

For this conduct, both Terry and his wife were sentenced by the court to imprisonment for contempt, Mrs. Terry for one month and Terry for six months, and these sentences were immediately carried into effect. Both the judgment of the court on the petition for the revival of the decree in the case of Sharon against Hill and the judgment of the Circuit Court imprisoning Terry and wife for contempt have been brought to this court for review, and in both cases the judgments have been affirmed. The report of the cases may be found in Ex parte Terry, 128 U.S. 289, and Terry v. Sharon, 131 U.S. 40.

Terry and Mrs. Terry were separately indicted by the grand jury of the Circuit Court of the United States during the same term for their part in these transactions, and the cases were [p46] pending in said court at the time of Terry's death. It also appears that Mrs. Terry, during her part of this altercation in the courtroom, was making efforts to open a small satchel which she had with her, but, through her excitement, she failed. This satchel, which was taken from her, was found to have in it a revolving pistol.

From that time until his death, the denunciations by Terry and his wife of Mr. Justice Field were open, frequent, and of the most vindictive and malevolent character. While being transported from San Francisco to Alameda, where they were imprisoned, Mrs. Terry repeated a number of times that she would kill both Judge Field and Judge Sawyer. Terry, who was present, said nothing to restrain her, but added that he was not through with Judge Field yet; and, while in jail at Alameda, Terry said that, after he got out of jail, he would horsewhip Judge Field, and that he did not believe he would ever return to California, but this earth was not large enough to keep him from finding Judge Field and horsewhipping him; and, in reply to a remark that this would be a dangerous thing to do, and that Judge Field would resent it, he said: "if Judge Field resents it, I will kill him." And while in jail, Mrs. Terry exhibited to a witness Terry's knife, at which he laughed, and said, "Yes, I always carry that," and made a remark about judges and marshals, that "they were all a lot of cowardly curs," and he would "see some of them in their graves yet." Mrs. Terry also said that she expected to kill Judge Field some day.

Perhaps the clearest expression of Terry's feelings and intentions in the matter as in a conversation with Mr. Thomas T. Williams, editor of one of the daily newspapers of California. This interview was brought about by a message from Terry requesting Williams to call and see him. In speaking of the occurrences in the court, he said that Justice Field had put a lie in the record about him, and, when he met Field, he would have to take that back, "and if he did not take it back and apologize for having lied about him, he would slap his face or pull his nose." "I said to him," said the witness,

"Judge Terry, would not that be a dangerous thing to do? [p47] Justice Field is not a man who would permit anyone to put a deadly insult upon him like that." He said, "Oh, Field won't fight." I said, "Well, Judge, I have found nearly all men will fight; nearly every man will fight when there is occasion for it, and Judge Field has had a character in this State of having the courage of his convictions, and being a brave man." At the conclusion of that branch of the conversation, I said to him, "Well, Judge Field is not your physical equal, and if any trouble should occur, he would be very likely to use a weapon." He said, "Well, that's as good a thing as I want to get." The whole impression conveyed to me by this conversation was that he felt he had some cause of grievance against Judge Field; that he hoped they might meet, that he might have an opportunity to force a quarrel upon him, and he would get him into a fight.

Mr. Williams says that, after the return of Justice Field to California in the spring or summer of 1889, he had other conversations with Terry in which the same vindictive feelings of hatred were manifested and expressed by him.

It is useless to go over the testimony on this subject more particularly. It is sufficient to say that the evidence is abundant that both Terry and wife contemplated some attack upon Judge Field during his official visit to California in the summer of 1889 which they intended should result in his death. Many of these matters were published in the newspapers, and the press of California was filled with the conjectures of a probable attack by Terry on Justice Field as soon as it became known that he was going to attend the Circuit Court in that year.

So much impressed were the friends of Judge Field, and of public justice, both in California and in Washington, with the fear that he would fall a sacrifice to the resentment of Terry and his wife that application was made to the Attorney General of the United States suggesting the propriety of his furnishing some protection to the judge while in California. This resulted in a correspondence between the Attorney General of the United States, the District Attorney, and the marshal of the Northern District of California on that subject. This correspondence is here set out: [p48]


WASHINGTON, April 27th, 1889

JOHN C. FRANKS, United States Marshal, San Francisco, Cal.

SIR: The proceedings which have heretofore been had in connection with the case of Mr. and Mrs. Terry in your United States Circuit Court have become matter of public notoriety, and I deem it my duty to call your attention to the propriety of exercising unusual caution in case further proceedings shall be had in that case, for the protection of his Honor Justice Field or whoever may be called upon to hear and determine the matter. Of course, I do not know what may be the feelings or purpose of Mr. and Mrs. Terry in the premises, but many things which have happened indicate that violence on their part is not impossible. It is due to the dignity and independence of the court and the character of its judge that no effort on the part of the government shall be spared to make them feel entirely safe and free from anxiety in the discharge of their high duties.

You will understand, of course, that this letter is not for the public, but to put you upon your guard. It will be proper for you to show it to the district attorney, if deemed best.

Yours truly, W. H. H. MILLER.

Attorney General



SAN FRANCISCO, May 6, 1889

Hon. W. H. H. MILLER, Attorney General, Washington, D.C.

SIR: Yours of the the 27th ultimo, at hand.

When the Hon. Judge Lorenzo Sawyer, our Circuit Judge, returned from Los Angeles (some time before the celebrated court scene) and informed me of the disgraceful action of Mrs. Terry towards him on the cars, while her husband sat in front smilingly approving it, I resolved to watch the Terrys (and so notified my deputies) whenever they should enter the courtroom, and be ready to suppress the very first indignity offered by either of them to the judges. After this, at the time of their ejectment from the courtroom, when I held Judge Terry [p49] and his wife as prisoners in my private office and heard his threats against Justice Field, I was more fully determined than ever to throw round the Justice and Judge Sawyer every safeguard I could.

I have given the matter careful consideration, with the determination to fully protect the federal judges at this time, trusting that the department will reimburse me for any reasonable expenditure.

I have always, whenever there is any likelihood of either Judge or Mrs. Terry appearing in court, had a force of deputies with myself on hand to watch their every action. You can rest assured that, when Justice Field arrives, he, as well as all the federal judges, will be protected from insults, and where an order is made, it will be executed without fear as to consequences. I shall follow your instructions and act with more than usual caution. I have already consulted with the United States attorney, J. T. Carey, Esq., as to the advisability of making application to you, at the time the Terrys are tried upon criminal charges, for me to select two or more detectives to assist in the case, and also assist me in protecting Justice Field while in my district. I wish the judges to feel secure, and for this purpose will see to it that their every wish is promptly obeyed. I notice your remarks in regard to the publicity of your letter, and will obey your request. I shall only be too happy to receive any suggestions from you at any time.

The opinion among the better class of citizens here is very bitter against the Terrys, though, of course, they have their friends, and, unfortunately, among that class it is necessary to watch.

Your most obedient servant, J. S. FRANKS,

U.S. Marshal Northern Dist. of Cal.

SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., May 7, 1889

Hon. W. H. H. MILLER,

U.S. Attorney General, Washington, D.C.

DEAR SIR: Marshal Franks exhibited to me your letter bearing date the 27th ult., addressed to him upon the subject [p50] of using due caution by way of protecting Justice Field and the federal judges here in the discharge of their duties in matters in which the Terrys are interested. I noted your suggestion with a great degree of pleasure, not because our marshal is at all disposed to leave anything undone within his authority or power to do, but because it encouraged him to know and feel that the Head of our Department was in full sympathy with the efforts being made to protect the judges and vindicate the dignity of our courts.

I write merely to suggest that there is just reason, in the light of the past and the threats made by Judge and Mrs. Terry against Justice Field and Judge Sawyer, to apprehend personal violence at any moment and at any place, as well in court as out of court, and that, while due caution has always been taken by the marshal when either Judge or Mrs. Terry is about the building in which the courts are held, he has not felt it within his authority to guard either Judge Sawyer or Justice Field against harm when away from the appraisers' building.

Discretion dictates, however, that a protection should be thrown about them at other times and places, when proceedings are being had before them in which the Terrys are interested, and I verily believe, in view of the direful threats made against Justice Field, that he will be in great danger at all times while here.

Mr. Franks is a prudent, cool, and courageous officer who will not abuse any authority granted him. I would therefore suggest that he be authorized in his discretion to retain one or more deputies, at such times as he may deem necessary, for the purposes suggested. That publicity may not be given to the matter, it is important that the deputies whom he may select be not known as such, and that efficient service may be assured for the purposes indicated, it seems to me that they should be strangers to the Terrys.

The Terrys are unable to appreciate that an officer should perform his official duty when that duty in any way requires his efforts to be directed against them. The marshal, his deputies, and myself suffer daily indignities and insults from Mrs. [p51] Terry, in court and out of court, committed in the presence of her husband and without interference upon his part. I do not purpose being deterred from any duty, nor do I purpose being intimidated in the least degree from doing my whole duty in the premises, but I shall feel doubly assured in being able to do so knowing that our marshal has your kind wishes and encouragement in doing everything needed to protect the officers of the court in the discharge of their duties.

This, of course, is not intended for the public files of your office, nor will it be on file in my office. Prudence dictates great caution on the part of the officials who may be called upon to have anything to do in the premises, and I deem it to be of the greatest importance that the suggestions back and forth be confidential.

I shall write you further upon the subject of these cases in a few days.

I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,


U.S. Attorney


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 27, 1889

J. C FRANKS, Esq., United States Marshal, San Francisco, Cal.

SIR: Referring to former correspondence of the department relating to a possible disorder in the session of the approaching term of court, owing to the small number of bailiffs under your control to preserve order, you are directed to employ certain special deputies at a per diem of five dollars, payable out of the appropriation for fees and expenses of marshals, to be submitted to the court as a separate account from your other accounts against the government for approval, under section 846, Revised Statutes, as an extraordinary expense, that the same may be forwarded to this Department in order to secure executive action and approval.

Very respectfully, W. H. H. MILLER

Attorney General


The result of this correspondence was that Marshal Franks appointed Mr. Neagle a deputy marshal for the Northern District of California, and gave him special instructions to attend upon Judge Field both in court and while going from one court to another, and protect him from any assault that might be attempted upon him by Terry and wife. Accordingly, when Judge Field went from San Francisco to Los Angeles to hold the Circuit Court of the United States at that place, Mr. Neagle accompanied him, remained with him for the few days that he was engaged in the business of that court, and returned with him to San Francisco.

It appears from the uncontradicted evidence in the case that, while the sleeping car, in which were Justice Field and Mr. Neagle, stopped a moment in the early morning at Fresno, Terry and wife got on the train. The fact that they were on the train became known to Neagle, and he held a conversation with the conductor as to what peace officers could be found at Lathrop, where the train stopped for breakfast, and the conductor was requested to telegraph to the proper officers of that place to have a constable or some peace officer on the ground when the train should arrive, anticipating that there might be violence attempted by Terry upon Judge Field. It is sufficient to say that this resulted in no available aid to assist in keeping the peace. When the train arrived, Neagle informed Judge Field of the presence of Terry on the train, and advised him to remain and take his breakfast in the car. This the Judge refused to do, and he and Neagle got out of the car and went into the dining room, and took seats beside each other in the place assigned them by the person in charge of the breakfast room, and very shortly after this, Terry and wife came into the room, and Mrs. Terry, recognizing Judge Field, turned and left in great haste, while Terry passed beyond where Judge Field and Neagle were and took his seat at another table. It was afterwards ascertained that Mrs. Terry went to the car and took from it a satchel in which was a revolver. Before she returned to the eating room, Terry arose from his seat and, passing around the table in such a way as brought him behind Judge Field, who did not see him or notice him, came [p53] up where he was sitting with his feet under the table, and struck him a blow on the side of his face, which was repeated on the other side. He also had his arm drawn back and his fist doubled up, apparently to strike a third blow, when Neagle, who had been observing him all this time, arose from his seat with his revolver in his hand, and in a very loud voice shouted out: "Stop! stop! I am an officer!" Upon this, Terry turned his attention to Neagle, and, as Neagle testifies, seemed to recognize him, and immediately turned his hand to thrust it in his bosom, as Neagle felt sure, with the purpose of drawing a bowie knife. At this instant, Neagle fired two shots from his revolver into the body of Terry, who immediately sank down and died in a few minutes.

Mrs. Terry entered the room with the satchel in her hand just after Terry sank to the floor. She rushed up to the place where he was, threw herself upon his body, made loud exclamations and moans, and commenced inviting the spectators to avenge her wrong upon Field and Neagle. She appeared to be carried away by passion, and in a very earnest manner charged that Field and Neagle had murdered her husband intentionally, and shortly afterwards she appealed to the persons present to examine the body of Terry to see that he had no weapons. This she did once or twice. The satchel which she had, being taken from her, was found to contain a revolver.

These are the material circumstances produced in evidence before the Circuit Court on the hearing, of this habeas corpus case. It is but a short sketch of a history which is given in over five hundred pages in the record, but we think it is sufficient to enable us to apply the law of the case to the question before us. Without a more minute discussion of this testimony, it produces upon us the conviction of a settled purpose on the part of Terry and his wife, amounting to a conspiracy, to murder Justice Field. And we are quite sure that, if Neagle had been merely a brother or a friend of Judge Field, traveling with him, and aware of all the previous relations of Terry to the Judge -- as he was -- of his bitter animosity, his declared purpose to have revenge even to the point [p54] of killing him, he would have been justified in what he did in defence of Mr. Justice Field's life, and possibly of his own.

But such a justification would be a proper subject for consideration on a trial of the case for murder in the courts of the State of California, and there exists no authority in the courts of the United States to discharge the prisoner while held in custody by the State authorities for this offence unless there be found in aid of the defence of the prisoner some element of power and authority asserted under the government of the United States.

This element is said to be found in the facts that Mr. Justice Field, when attacked, was in the immediate discharge of his duty as judge of the Circuit Courts of the United States within California; that the assault upon him grew out of the animosity of Terry and wife, arising out of the previous discharge of his duty as circuit justice in the case for which they were committed for contempt of court, and that the deputy marshal of the United States, who killed Terry in defence of Field's life, was charged with a duty under the law of the United States to protect Field from the violence which Terry was inflicting, and which was intended to lead to Field's death.

To the inquiry whether this proposition is sustained by law and the facts which we have recited we now address ourselves.

Mr. Justice Field was a member of the Supreme Court of the United States, and had been a member of that court for over a quarter of a century, during which he had become venerable for his age and for his long and valuable service in that court. The business of the Supreme Court has become so exacting that for many years past, the justices of it have been compelled to remain for the larger part of the year in Washington City, from whatever part of the country they may have been appointed. The term for each year, including the necessary travel and preparations to attend at its beginning, has generally lasted from eight to nine months.

But the justices of this court have imposed upon them other duties, the most important of which arise out of the fact that they are also judges of the Circuit Courts of the United States. [p55] Of these circuits there are nine, to each one of which a justice of the Supreme Court is allotted, under section 606 of the Revised Statutes, the provision of which is as follows:

The chief justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court shall be allotted among the circuits by an order of the court, and a new allotment shall be made whenever it becomes necessary or convenient by reason of the alteration of any circuit, or of the new appointment of a chief justice or associate justice, or otherwise.

Section 610 declares that it

shall be the duty of the chief justice, and of each justice of the Supreme Court, to attend at least one term of the Circuit Court, in each district of the circuit to which he is allotted during every period of two years.

Although this enactment does not require in terms that the justices shall go to their circuits more than once in two years, the effect of it is to compel most of them to do this, because there are so many districts in many of the circuits that it is impossible for the circuit justice to reach them all in one year, and the result of this is that he goes to some of them in one year, and to others in the next year, thus requiring an attendance in the circuit every year.

The justices of the Supreme Court have been members of the Circuit Courts of the United States ever since the organization of the government, and their attendance on the circuit and appearance at the places where the courts are held has always been thought to be a matter of importance. In order to enable him to perform this duty, Mr. Justice Field had to travel each year from Washington City, near the Atlantic coast, to San Francisco, on the Pacific coast. In doing this, he was as much in the discharge of a duty imposed upon him by law as he was while sitting in court and trying causes. There are many duties which the judge performs outside of the courtroom where he sits to pronounce judgment or to preside over a trial. The statutes of the United States, and the established practice of the courts, require that the judge perform a very large share of his judicial labors at what is called "chambers." This chamber work is as important as necessary, as much a discharge of his official duty as that performed [p56] in the courthouse. Important cases are often argued before the judge at any place convenient to the parties concerned, and a decision of the judge is arrived at by investigations made in his own room, wherever he may be, and it is idle to say that this is not as much the performance of judicial duty as the filing of the judgment with the clerk and the announcement of the result in open court.

So it is impossible for a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who is compelled by the obligations of duty to be so much in Washington City, to discharge his duties of attendance on the Circuit Courts as prescribed by section 610 without traveling in the usual and most convenient modes of doing it to the place where the court is to be held. This duty is as much an obligation imposed by the law as if it had said in words "the Justices of the Supreme Court shall go from Washington City to the place where their terms are held every year."

Justice Field had not only left Washington and traveled the three thousand miles or more which were necessary to reach his circuit, but he had entered upon the duties of that circuit, had held the court at San Francisco for some time; and, taking a short leave of that court, had gone down to Los Angeles, another place where a court was to be held, and sat as a judge there for several days, hearing cases and rendering decisions. It was in the necessary act of returning from Los Angeles to San Francisco, by the usual mode of travel between the two places, where his court was still in session, and where he was required to be, that he was assaulted by Terry in the manner which we have already described.

The occurrence which we are called upon to consider was of so extraordinary a character that it is not to be expected that many cases can be found to cite as authority upon the subject.

In the case of United States v. The Schooner Little Charles, 1 Brock. 380, 382, a question arose before Chief Justice Marshall, holding the Circuit Court of the United States for Virginia, as to the validity of an order made by the District Judge at his chambers, and not in court. The act of Congress authorized stated terms of the District Court, and gave the judge [p57] power to hold special courts at his discretion, either at the place appointed by the law or such other place in the district as the nature of the business and his discretion should direct. He says:

It does not seem to be a violent construction of such an act to consider the judge as constituting a court whenever he proceeds on judicial business;

and cites the practice of the courts in support of that view of the subject.

In the case of United States v. Gleason, 1 Wool.C.C. 128, 132, the prisoner was indicted for the murder of two enrolling officers who were charged with the duty of arresting deserters, or those who had been drafted into the service and had failed to attend. These men, it was said, had visited the region of country where they were murdered, and, having failed of accomplishing their purpose of arresting the deserters, were on their return to their home when they were killed, and the court was asked to instruct the jury that, under these circumstances, they were not engaged in the duty of arresting the deserters named. "It is claimed by the counsel for the defendant," says the report,

that, if the parties killed had been so engaged, and had come to that neighborhood with the purpose of arresting the supposed deserters, but at the moment of the assault had abandoned the purpose of making the arrests at that time, and were returning to headquarters at Grinnell with a view to making other arrangements for arrest at another time, they were not so engaged as to bring the case within the law.

But the court held that this was not a sound construction of the statute, and

that, if the parties killed had come into that neighborhood with intent to arrest the deserters named, and had been employed by the proper officer for that service, and were in the proper prosecution of that purpose, returning to Grinnell with a view to making other arrangements to discharge this duty, they were still engaged in arresting the deserters within the meaning of the statute. It is not necessary,

said the court,

that the party killed should be engaged in the immediate act of arrest, but it is sufficient if he be employed in and about that business when assaulted. The purpose of the law is to protect the life of the person so employed, and this protection continues so [p58] long as he is engaged in a service necessary and proper to that employment.

We have no doubt that Mr. Justice Field, when attacked by Terry, was engaged in the discharge of his duties as Circuit Justice of the Ninth Circuit, and was entitled to all the protection under those circumstances which the law could give him.

It is urged, however, that there exists no statute authorizing any such protection as that which Neagle was instructed to give Judge Field in the present case, and indeed no protection whatever against a vindictive or malicious assault growing out of the faithful discharge of his official duties, and that the language of section 753 of the Revised Statutes, that the party seeking the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus must in this connection show that he is "in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States," makes it necessary that, upon this occasion, it should be shown that the act for which Neagle is imprisoned as done by virtue of an act of Congress. It is not supposed that any special act of Congress exists which authorizes the marshals or deputy marshals of the United States in express terms to accompany the judges of the Supreme Court through their circuits, and act as a bodyguard to them, to defend them against malicious assaults against their persons. But we are of opinion that this view of the statute is an unwarranted restriction of the meaning of a law designed to extend in a liberal manner the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus to persons imprisoned for the performance of their duty. And we are satisfied that, if it was the duty of Neagle, under the circumstances, a duty which could only arise under the laws of the United States, to defend Mr. Justice Field from a murderous attack upon him, he brings himself within the meaning of the section we have recited. This view of the subject is confirmed by the alternative provision, that he must be in custody

for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States or of an order, process, or decree of a court or judge thereof, or is in custody in violation of the Constitution or of a law or treaty of the United States. [p59]

In the view we take of the Constitution of the United States, any obligation fairly and properly inferrible from that instrument, or any duty of the marshal to be derived from the general scope of his duties under the laws of the United States, is "a law" within the meaning of this phrase. It would be a great reproach to the system of government of the United States, declared to be within its sphere sovereign and supreme, if there is to be found within the domain of its powers no means of protecting the judges, in the conscientious and faithful discharge of their duties, from the malice and hatred of those upon whom their judgments may operate unfavorably.

It has in modern times become apparent that the physical health of the community is more efficiently promoted by hygienic and preventive means than by the skill which is applied to the cure of disease after it has become fully developed. So also the law, which is intended to prevent crime, in its general spread among the community, by regulations, police organization, and otherwise, which are adapted for the protection of the lives and property of citizens, for the dispersion of mobs, for the arrest of thieves and assassins, for the watch which is kept over the community, as well as over this class of people, is more efficient than punishment of crimes after they have been committed.

If a person in the situation of Judge Field could have no other guarantee of his personal safety, while engaged in the conscientious discharge of a disagreeable duty, than the fact that, if he was murdered, his murderer would be subject to the laws of a State, and by those laws could be punished, the security would be very insufficient. The plan which Terry and wife had in mind of insulting him and assaulting him and drawing him into a defensive physical contest, in the course of which they would slay him, shows the little value of such remedies. We do not believe that the government of the United States is thus inefficient, or that its Constitution and laws have left the high officers of the government so defenceless and unprotected.

The views expressed by this court through Mr. Justice [p60] Bradley, in Ex parte Siebold, 100 U.S. 371, 394, are very pertinent to this subject, and express our views with great force. That was a case of a writ of habeas corpus, where Siebold had been indicted in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Maryland for an offence committed against the election laws during an election at which members of Congress and officers of the State of Maryland were elected. He was convicted, and sentenced to fine and imprisonment, and filed his petition in this court for a writ of habeas corpus to be relieved on the ground that the court which had convicted him was without jurisdiction. The foundation of this allegation was that the Congress of the United States had no right to prescribe laws for the conduct of the election in question, or for enforcing the laws of the State of Maryland by the courts of the United States. In the course of the discussion of the relative powers of the federal and state courts on this subject, it is said:

Somewhat akin to the argument which has been considered is the objection that the deputy marshals authorized by the act of Congress to be created and to attend the elections are authorized to keep the peace, and that this is a duty which belongs to the state authorities alone. It is argued that the preservation of peace and good order in society is not within the powers confided to the government of the United States, but belongs exclusively to the States. Here again we are met with the theory that the government of the United States does not rest upon the soil and territory of the country. We think that this theory is founded on an entire misconception of the nature and powers of that government. We hold it to be an incontrovertible principle that the government of the United States may, by means of physical force, exercised through its official agents, execute on every foot of American soil the powers and functions that belong to it. This necessarily involves the power to command obedience to its laws, and hence the power to keep the peace to that extent. This power to enforce its laws and to execute its functions in all places does not derogate from the power of the State to execute its laws at the same time and in the same [p61] places. The one does not exclude the other, except where both cannot be executed at the same time. In that case, the words of the Constitution itself show which is to yield. "This Constitution, and all laws which shall be made in pursuance thereof, . . . shall be the supreme law of the land." . . . Without the concurrent sovereignty referred to, the national government would be nothing but an advisory government. Its executive power would be absolutely nullified. Why do we have marshals at all if they cannot physically lay their hands on persons and things in the performance of their proper duties? What functions can they perform if they cannot use force? In executing the processes of the courts, must they call on the nearest constable for protection? must they rely on him to use the requisite compulsion, and to keep the peace, whilst they are soliciting and entreating the parties and bystanders to allow the law to take its course? This is the necessary consequence of the positions that are assumed. If we indulge in such impracticable views as these, and keep on refining and re-refining, we shall drive the national government out of the United States, and relegate it to the District of Columbia, or perhaps to some foreign soil. We shall bring it back to a condition of greater helplessness than that of the old confederation. . . . It must execute its powers, or it is no government. It must execute them on the land as well as on the sea, on things as well as on persons. And, to do this, it must necessarily have power to command obedience, preserve order, and keep the peace, and no person or power in this land has the right to resist or question its authority so long as it keeps within the bounds of its jurisdiction.

At the same term of the court, in the case of Tennessee v. Davis, 100 U.S. 257, 262, where the same questions in regard to the relative powers of the federal and state courts were concerned, in regard to criminal offences, the court expressed its views through Mr. Justice Strong, quoting from the case of Martin v. Hunter, 1 Wheat. 363, the following language: "The general government must cease to exist whenever it loses the power of protecting itself in the exercise of its Constitutional [p62] powers," and then proceeding:

It can act only through its officers and agents, and they must act within the States. If, when thus acting, and within the scope of their authority, those officers can be arrested and brought to trial in a state court, for an alleged offence against the law of the State, yet warranted by the federal authority they possess, and if the general government is powerless to interfere at once for their protection -- if their protection must be left to the action of the state court -- the operations of the general government may at any time be arrested at the will of one of its members. The legislation of a State may be unfriendly. It may affix penalties to acts done under the immediate direction of the national government, and in obedience to its laws. It may deny the authority conferred by those laws. The state court may administer not only the laws of the State, but equally federal law, in such a manner as to paralyze the operations of the government. And even if, after trial and final judgment in the state court, the case can be brought into the United States court for review, the officer is withdrawn from the discharge of his duty during the pendency of the prosecution, and the exercise of acknowledged federal power arrested. We do not think such an element of weakness is to be found in the Constitution. The United States is a government with authority extending over the whole territory of the Union, acting upon the States and the people of the States. While it is limited in the number of its powers, so far as its sovereignty extends, it is supreme. No state government can exclude it from the exercise of any authority conferred upon it by the Constitution, obstruct its authorized officers against its will, or withhold from it for a moment the cognizance of any subject which that instrument has committed to it.

To cite all the cases in which this principle of the supremacy of the government of the United States, in the exercise of all the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, is maintained would be an endless task. We have selected these as being the most forcible expressions of the views of the court having a direct reference to the nature of the case before us.

Where, then, are we to look for the protection which we [p63] have shown Judge Field was entitled to when engaged in the discharge of his official duties? Not to the courts of the United States, because, as has been more than once said in this court, in the division of the powers of government between the three great departments, executive, legislative and judicial, the judicial is the weakest for the purposes of self-protection and for the enforcement of the powers which it exercises. The ministerial officers through whom its commands must be executed are marshals of the United States, and belong emphatically to the executive department of the government. They are appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. They are removable from office at his pleasure. They are subjected by act of Congress to the supervision and control of the Department of Justice, in the hands of one of the cabinet officers of the President, and their compensation is provided by acts of Congress. The same may be said of the district attorneys of the United States, who prosecute and defend the claims of the government in the courts.

The legislative branch of the government can only protect the judicial officers by the enactment of laws for that purpose, and the argument we are now combating assumes that no such law has been passed by Congress.

If we turn to the executive department of the government, we find a very different condition of affairs. The Constitution, section 3, Article 2, declares that the President "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and he is provided with the means of fulfilling this obligation by his authority to commission all the officers of the United States, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint the most important of them and to fill vacancies. He is declared to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. The duties which are thus imposed upon him he is further enabled to perform by the recognition in the Constitution, and the creation by acts of Congress, of executive departments, which have varied in number from four or five to seven or eight, the heads of which are familiarly called cabinet ministers. These aid him in the performance of the [p64] great duties of his office, and represent him in a thousand acts to which it can hardly be supposed his personal attention is called, and thus he is enabled to fulfill the duty of his great department, expressed in the phrase that "he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Is this duty limited to the enforcement of acts of Congress or of treaties of the United States according to their express terms, or does it include the rights, duties and obligations growing out of the Constitution itself, our international relations, and all the protection implied by the nature of the government under the Constitution?

One of the most remarkable episodes in the history of our foreign relations, and which has become an attractive historical incident, is the case of Martin Koszta, a native of Hungary, who, though not fully a naturalized citizen of the United States, had in due form of law made his declaration of intention to become a citizen. While in Smyrna, he was seized by command of the Austrian consul general at that place, and carried on board the Hussar, an Austrian vessel, where he was held in close confinement. Captain Ingraham, in command of the American sloop of war St. Louis, arriving in port at that critical period, and ascertaining that Koszta had with him his naturalization papers, demanded his surrender to him, and was compelled to train his guns upon the Austrian vessel before his demands were complied with. It was, however, to prevent bloodshed, agreed that Koszta should be placed in the hands of the French consul subject to the result of diplomatic negotiations between Austria and the United States. The celebrated correspondence between Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State, and Chevalier Hulsemann, the Austrian minister at Washington, which arose out of this affair and resulted in the release and restoration to liberty of Koszta, attracted a great deal of public attention, and the position assumed by Mr. Marcy met the approval of the country and of Congress, who voted a gold medal to Captain Ingraham for his conduct in the affair. Upon what act of Congress then existing can anyone lay his finger in support of the action of our government in this matter? [p65]

So, if the President or the Postmaster General is advised that the mails of the United States, possibly carrying treasure, are liable to be robbed and the mail carriers assaulted and murdered in any particular region of country, who can doubt the authority of the President or of one of the executive departments under him to make an order for the protection of the mail and of the persons and lives of its carriers, by doing exactly what was done in the case of Mr. Justice Field, namely, providing a sufficient guard, whether it be by soldiers of the army or by marshals of the United States, with a posse comitatus properly armed and equipped, to secure the safe performance of the duty of carrying the mail wherever it may be intended to go?

The United States is the owner of millions of acres of valuable public land, and has been the owner of much more which it has sold. Some of these lands owe a large part of their value to the forests which grow upon them. These forests are liable to depredations by people living in the neighborhood, known as timber thieves, who make a living by cutting and selling such timber, and who are trespassers. But until quite recently, even if there be one now, there was no statute authorizing any preventive measures for the protection of this valuable public property. Has the President no authority to place guards upon the public territory to protect its timber? No authority to seize the timber when cut and found upon the ground? Has he no power to take any measures to protect this vast domain? Fortunately we find this question answered by this court in the case of Wells v. Nickles, 104 U.S. 444. That was a case in which a class of men appointed by local land officers, under instructions from the Secretary of the Interior, having found a large quantity of this timber cut down from the forests of the United States and lying where it was cut, seized it. The question of the title to this property coming in controversy between Wells and Nickles, it became essential to inquire into the authority of these timber agents of the government thus to seize the timber cut by trespassers on its lands. The court said:

The effort we have made to ascertain and fix the authority of these timber agents by any [p66] positive provision of law has been unsuccessful.

But the court, notwithstanding there was no special statute for it, held that the Department of the Interior, acting under the idea of protecting from depredation timber on the lands of the government, had gradually come to assert the right to seize what is cut and taken away from them wherever it can be traced, and in aid of this, the registers and receivers of the Land Office had, by instructions from the Secretary of the Interior, been constituted agents of the United States for these purposes, with power to appoint special agents under themselves. And the court upheld the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to make these rules and regulations for the protection of the public lands.

One of the cases in this court in which this question was presented in the most imposing form is that of United States v. San Jacinto Tin Company, 125 U.S. 273, 279, 280. In that case, a suit was brought in the name of the United States, by order of the Attorney General, to set aside a patent which had been issued for a large body of valuable land on the ground that it was obtained from the government by fraud and deceit practised upon its officers. A preliminary question was raised by counsel for defendant, which was earnestly insisted upon, as to the right of the Attorney General or any other officer of the government to institute such a suit in the absence of any act of Congress authorizing it. It was conceded that there was no express authority given to the Attorney General to institute that particular suit or any suit of that class. The question was one of very great interest, and was very ably argued both in the court below and in this court. The response of this Court to that suggestion conceded that, in the acts of Congress establishing the Department of Justice and defining the duties of the Attorney General, there was no such express authority, and it was said that there was also no express authority to him to bring suits against debtors of the government upon bonds, or to begin criminal prosecutions, or to institute criminal proceedings in any of the cases in which the United States was plaintiff, yet he was invested with the general superintendence of all such suits. It was further said: [p67]

If the United States, in any particular case, has a just cause for calling upon the judiciary of the country, in any of its Courts, for relief by setting aside or annulling any of its contracts, its obligations, or its most solemn instruments, the question of the appeal to the judicial tribunals of the country must primarily be decided by the Attorney General of the United States. That such a power should exist somewhere, and that the United States should not be more helpless in relieving itself of frauds, impostures, and deceptions than the private individual is hardly open to argument. . . . There must, then, be an officer or officers of the government to determine when the United States shall sue, to decide for what it shall sue, and to be responsible that such suits shall be brought in appropriate cases. The attorneys of the United States in every judicial district are officers of this character, and they are by statute under the immediate supervision and control of the Attorney General. How, then, can it be argued that, if the United States has been deceived, entrapped, or defrauded into the making, under the forms of law, of an instrument which injuriously affects its rights of property, or other rights, it cannot bring a suit to avoid the effect of such instrument, thus fraudulently obtained, without a special act of Congress in each case, or without some special authority applicable to this class of cases?

The same question was raised in the earlier case of United States v. Hughes, 11 How. 552, and decided the same way.

We cannot doubt the power of the President to take measures for the protection of a judge of one of the courts of the United States who, while in the discharge of the duties of his office, is threatened with a personal attack which may probably result in his death, and we think it clear that, where this protection is to be afforded through the civil power, the Department of Justice is the proper one to set in motion the necessary means of protection. The correspondence already recited in this opinion between the marshal of the Northern District of California and the Attorney General, and the district attorney of the United States for that district, although prescribing no very specific mode of affording this [p68] protection by the Attorney General, is sufficient, we think, to warrant the marshal in taking the steps which he did take, in making the provisions which he did make, for the protection and defence of Mr. Justice Field.

But there is positive law investing the marshals and their deputies with powers which not only justify what Marshal Neagle did in this matter, but which imposed it upon him as a duty. In chapter fourteen of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which is devoted to the appointment and duties of the district attorneys, marshals, and clerks of the courts of the United States, section 78 declares:

The marshals and their deputies shall have, in each State, the same powers, in executing the laws of the United States, as the sheriffs and their deputies in such State may have, by law, in executing the laws thereof.

If, therefore, a sheriff of the State of California was authorized to do in regard to the laws of California what Neagle did, that is, if he was authorized to keep the peace, to protect a judge from assault and murder, then Neagle was authorized to do the same thing in reference to the laws of the United States.

Section 4176 of the Political Code of California reads as follows:

The sheriff must:

First. Preserve the peace.

Second. Arrest and take before the nearest magistrate for examination all persons who attempt to commit or have committed a public offence.

Third. Prevent and suppress all affrays, breaches of the peace, riots and insurrections, which may come to his knowledge. . . .

And the Penal Code of California declares (section 19) that homicide is justifiable when committed by any person "when resisting any attempt to murder any person or to commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury upon any person;" or

when committed in defence of habitation, property or person against one who manifestly intends or endeavors by violence or surprise to commit a felony. [p69]

That there is a peace of the United States, that a man assaulting a judge of the United States while in the discharge of his duties violates that peace, that, in such case, the marshal of the United States stands in the same relation to the peace of the United States which the sheriff of the county does to the peace of the State of California, are questions too clear to need argument to prove them. That it would be the duty of a sheriff, if one had been present at this assault by Terry upon Judge Field, to prevent this breach of the peace, to prevent this assault, to prevent the murder which was contemplated by it, cannot be doubted. And if, in performing this duty, it became necessary for the protection of Judge Field, or of himself, to kill Terry, in a case where, like this, it was evidently a question of the choice of who should be killed, the assailant and violator of the law and disturber of the peace or the unoffending man who was in his power, there can be no question of the authority of the sheriff to have killed Terry. So the marshal of the United States, charged with the duty of protecting and guarding the judge of the United States court against this special assault upon his person and his life, being present at the critical moment, when prompt action was necessary, found it to be his duty, a duty which he had no liberty to refuse to perform, to take the steps which resulted in Terry's death. This duty was imposed on him by the section of the Revised Statutes which we have recited, in connection with the powers conferred by the State of California upon its peace officers, which become, by this statute, in proper cases, transferred as duties to the marshals of the United States.

But all these questions being conceded, it is urged against the relief sought by this writ of habeas corpus that the question of the guilt of the prisoner of the crime of murder is a question to be determined by the laws of California and to be decided by its courts, and that there exists no power in the government of the United States to take away the prisoner from the custody of the proper authorities of the State of California and carry him before a judge of the court of the United States, and release him without a trial by jury according [p70] to the laws of the State of California. That the statute of the United States authorizes and directs such a proceeding and such a judgment in a case where the offence charged against the prisoner consists in an act done in pursuance of a law of the United States and by virtue of its authority, and where the imprisonment of the party is in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, is clear by its express language.

The enactments now found in the Revised Statutes of the United States on the subject of the writ of habeas corpus are the result of a long course of legislation forced upon Congress by the attempt of the States of the Union to exercise the power of imprisonment over officers and other persons asserting rights under the federal government or foreign governments, which the States denied. The original act of Congress on the subject of the writ of habeas corpus, by its 14th section, authorized the judges and the courts of the United States, in the case of prisoners in jail or in custody under or by color of the authority of the United States, or committed for trial before some court of the same, or when necessary to be brought into court to testify, to issue the writ, and the judge or court before whom they were brought was directed to make inquiry into the cause of commitment. 1 Stat. 81, c. 20, § 14. This did not present the question, or, at least, it gave rise to no question which came before the courts, as to releasing by this writ parties held in custody under the laws of the States. But when, during the controversy growing out of the nullification laws of South Carolina, officers of the United States were arrested and imprisoned for the performance of their duties in collecting the revenue of the United States in that State, and held by the state authorities, it became necessary for the Congress of the United States to take some action for their relief. Accordingly, the act of Congress of March 2, 1833, 4 Stat. 634, c. 7, § , among other remedies for such condition of affairs, provided, by its the section, that the federal judges should grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases of a prisoner in jail or confinement, where he should be committed or confined on or by any authority or law, for any act [p71] done, or omitted to be done, in pursuance of a law of the United States, or any order, process or decree of any judge or court thereof.

The next extension of the circumstances on which a writ of habeas corpus might issue by the federal judges arose out of the celebrated McLeod Case, Case, in which McLeod, charged with murder in a state court of New York, had pleaded that he was a British subject, and that what he had done was under and by the authority of his government, and should be a matter of international adjustment, and that he was not subject to be tried by a court of New York under the laws of that State. The federal government acknowledged the force of this reasoning, and undertook to obtain from the government of the State of New York the release of the prisoner, but failed. He was, however, tried and acquitted, and afterwards released by the State of New York. This led to an extension of the powers of the federal judges under the writ of habeas corpus by the act of August 29, 1842, Stat. 39, c. 27, entitled "In act to provide further remedial justice in the courts of the United States." It conferred upon them the power to issue a writ of habeas corpus in all cases where the prisoner claimed that the act for which he was held in custody was done under the sanction of any foreign power, and where the validity and effect of this plea depended upon the law of nations. In advocating the bill, which afterwards became a law, on this subject, Senator Berrien, who introduced it into the Senate, observed:

The object was to allow a foreigner, prosecuted in one of the States of the Union for an offence committed in that State, but which he pleads has been committed under authority of his own sovereign or the authority of the law of nations, to be brought up on that issue before the only competent judicial power to decide upon matters invoked in foreign relations or the law of nations. The plea must show that it has reference to the laws or treaties of the United States or the law of nations, and, showing this, the writ of habeas corpus is awarded to try that issue. If it shall appear that the accused has a bar on the plea alleged, it is right and proper that he should not be delayed in prison awaiting the [p72] proceedings of the state jurisdiction on the preliminary issue of his plea at bar. If satisfied of the existence in fact and validity in law of the bar, the federal jurisdiction will have the power of administering prompt relief.

No more forcible statement of the principle on which the law of the case now before us stands can be made.

The next extension of the powers of the court under the writ of habeas corpus was the act of February 5, 1867, 14 Stat. 38, c. 28, and this contains the broad ground of the present Revised Statutes, under which the relief is sought in the case before us, and includes all cases of restraint of liberty in violation of the Constitution or a law or treaty of the United States, and declares that

the said court or judge shall proceed in a summary way to determine the facts of the case by hearing testimony and the arguments of the parties interested, and if it shall appear that the petitioner is deprived of his or her liberty in contravention of the Constitution or laws of the United States, he or she shall forthwith be discharged and set at liberty.

It would seem as if the argument might close here. If the duty of the United States to protect its officers from violence, even to death, in discharge of the duties which its laws impose upon them, be established, and Congress has made the writ of habeas corpus one of the means by which this protection is made efficient, and if the facts of this case show that the prisoner was acting both under the authority of law and the directions of his superior officers of the Department of Justice, we can see no reason why this writ should not be made to serve its purpose in the present case.

We have already cited such decisions of this court as are most important and directly in point, and there is a series of cases decided by the Circuit and District Courts to the same purport. Several of these arose out of proceedings under the fugitive slave law, in which the marshal of the United States, while engaged in apprehending the fugitive slave with a view to returning him to his master in another State, was arrested by the authorities of the State. In many of these cases, they made application to the judges of the United States for relief [p73] by the writ of habeas corpus which give rise to several very interesting decisions on this subject.

In Ex parte Jenkins, 2 Wall. 521, 529, the marshal, who had been engaged, while executing a warrant, in arresting a fugitive, in a bloody encounter, was himself arrested under a warrant of a justice of the peace for assault with intent to kill, which makes the case very analogous to the one now under consideration. He presented to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was heard before Mr. Justice Grier, who held that, under the act of 1833, already referred to, the marshal was entitled to his discharge, because what he had done was in pursuance of and by the authority conferred upon him by the act of Congress concerning the rendition of fugitive slaves. He said:

The authority conferred on the judges of the United States by this act of Congress gives them all the power that any other court could exercise under the writ of habeas corpus or gives them none at all. If under such a writ they may not discharge their officer when imprisoned "by any authority" for an act done in pursuance of a law of the United States, it would be impossible to discover for what useful purpose the act was passed.


was passed when a certain state of this Union had threatened to nullify acts of Congress, and to treat those as criminals who should attempt to execute them; and it was intended as a remedy against such state legislation.

This same matter was up again when the fugitive slave, Thomas, had the marshal arrested in a civil suit for an alleged assault and battery. He was carried before Judge Kane on another writ of habeas corpus, and again released. 2 Wall. 531. A third time the marshal, being indicted, was arrested on a bench warrant issued by the state court, and again brought before the circuit court of the United States by a writ of habeas corpus, and discharged. Some remarks of Judge Kane on this occasion are very pertinent to the objections raised in the present case. He said (2 Wall. 543:)

It has been urged that my order, if it shall withdraw the relators from the prosecution pending against them, [in the [p74] state court,] will, in effect, prevent their trial by jury at all, since there is no act of Congress under which they can be indicted for an abuse of process. It will not be an anomaly, however, if the action of this court shall interfere with the trial of these prisoners by a jury. Our Constitutions secure that mode of trial as a right to the accused; but they nowhere recognize it as a right of the government, either state or federal, still less of an individual prosecutor. The action of a jury is overruled constantly by the granting of new trials after conviction. It is arrested by the entering of nolle prosequis while the case is at bar. It is made ineffectual at any time by the discharge on habeas corpus. . . . And there is no harm in this. No one imagines that, because a man is accused, he must therefore, of course, be tried. Public prosecutions are not devised for the purpose of indemnifying the wrongs of individuals, still less of retaliating them.

Many other decisions by the Circuit and District Courts to the same purport are to be found, among them the following: Ex parte Robinson, 6 McLean 355, 4 Amer.Law Register 617; Roberts v. Jailor of Fayette Co., 2 U.S. 265; In re Ramsey, 2 Flippin 451; In re Neill, 8 Blatchford 156; Ex parte Bridges, 2 Woods 428; Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241.

Similar language was used by Mr. Choate in the Senate of the United States upon the passage of the act of 1842. He said:

If you have the power to interpose after judgment, you have the power to do so before. If you can reverse a judgment, you can anticipate its rendition. If, within the Constitution, your judicial power extends to these cases or these controversies, whether you take hold of the case or controversy at one stage or another is totally immaterial. The single question submitted to the national tribunal, the question whether, under the statute adopting the law of nations, the prisoner is entitled to the exemption or immunity he claims, may as well be extracted from the entire case, and presented and decided in those tribunals before any judgment in the state court, as for it to be revised afterwards on a writ of error. Either way, they pass on no other question. Either [p75] way, they do not administer the criminal law of a state. In the one case as much as in the other, and no more, do they interfere with state judicial power.

The same answer is given in the present case. To the objection, made in argument, that the prisoner is discharged by this writ from the power of the state court to try him for the whole offense, the reply is that if the prisoner is held in the state court to answer for an act which he was authorized to do by the law of the United States, which it was his duty to do as marshal of the United States, and if, in doing that act, he did no more than what was necessary and proper for him to do, he cannot be guilty of a crime under the law of the state of California. When these things are shown, it is established that he is innocent of any crime against the laws of the state, or of any other authority whatever. There is no occasion for any further trial in the state court, or in any court. The Circuit court of the United States was as competent to ascertain these facts as any other tribunal, and it was not at all necessary that a jury should be impaneled to render a verdict on them. It is the exercise of a power common under all systems of criminal jurisprudence. There must always be a preliminary examination by a committing magistrate, or some similar authority, as to whether there is an offense to be submitted to a jury, and, if this is submitted in the first instance to a grand jury, that is still not the right of trial by jury which is insisted on in the present argument.

We have thus given, in this case, a most attentive consideration to all the questions of law and fact which we have thought to be properly involved in it. We have felt it to be our duty to examine into the facts with a completeness justified by the importance of the case, as well as from the duty imposed upon us by the statute, which we think requires of us to place ourselves, as far as possible, in the place of the circuit court, and to examine the testimony and the arguments in it, and to dispose of the party as law and justice require. The result at which we have arrived upon this examination is that, in the protection of the person and the life of Mr. Justice Field while in the discharge of his official duties, [p76] Neagle was authorized to resist the attack of Terry upon him; that Neagle was correct in the belief that, without prompt action on his part, the assault of Terry upon the judge would have ended in the death of the latter; that, such being his well founded belief, he was justified in taking the life of Terry as the only means of preventing the death of the man who was intended to be his victim; that, in taking the life of Terry, under the circumstances, he was acting under the authority of the law of the United States, and was justified in so doing; and that he is not liable to answer in the courts of California on account of his part in that transaction.

We therefore affirm the judgment of the circuit court authorizing his discharge from the custody of the sheriff of San Joaquin county.

FIELD, J., did not sit at the hearing of this case, and took no part in its decision.

* The docket title of this case is "Thomas Cunningham, Sheriff of the County of San Joaquin, California, Appellant v. David Neagle."

** The Governor of California, on learning that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Mr. Justice Field, promptly wrote to the Attorney General of the State, urging "the propriety of at once instructing the District Attorney of San Joaquin County to dismiss the unwarranted proceeding against him," as his arrest would be a burning disgrace to the State unless disavowed." The Attorney General as promptly responded by advising the District Attorney that there was "no evidence to implicate Justice Field in said shooting," and that public justice demands that the charge against him be dismissed," which was accordingly done.