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it is no doubt competent to so measure the punishment for the Federal offense as to make it equal to the punishment prescribed by the State for the crime committed against the State in the act of violating the Federal law. But is 5509 so worded as to require the Federal court, after the defendants have been lawfully tried and acquitted as to the identical crime of murder mentioned in the indictment in that court, to enter upon a judicial investigation to ascertain whether the defendants committed the alleged crime against the State of the murder mentioned in that indictment? We think not. The murder in question, if committed at all, was, as a distinct offense, a crime only against the State, and after the defendants were acquitted of that crime by the only tribunal that had jurisdiction of it as an offense against the State, it is to be taken that no such crime of murder as charged in the indictment was in fact committed by them. If this be not so, it follows that, notwithstanding the lawful acquittal of the defendants by the only tribunal that could lawfully try them for the alleged offense against the State, the United States may, in this case, in the Circuit Court of the United States, punish them for the conspiracy charged, precisely as the state court could have punished them for murder if the defendants had been previously found guilty of that crime in the state court. We do not think that $ 5509 is necessarily to be so construed. Nor do we think that Congress intended any such result to occur. Such a result should be avoided if it be possible to do so. We hold that it can be avoided without doing violence to the words of the statute. The language of that section is entirely satisfied and the ends of justice met if the statute is construed as not embracing, nor intended to embrace, any felony or misdemeanor against the State of which, prior to the trial in the Federal court of the Federal offense charged, the defendants had been lawfully acquitted of the alleged state offense by a state court having full jurisdiction in the premises. This interpretation recognizes the power of the State, by its own tribunals, to try offenses against its laws and to acquit or punish the alleged offender, as the facts may justify.
In this connection it has been suggested that the State might, under this interpretation, defeat the full operation of the act of Congress. Not at all. The interpretation we have given to $ 5509 will not prevent the trial of the defendants upon the charge of conspiracy and their punishment, if guilty, according to g 5508, namely, by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars and imprisonment not more than ten years. The only result of the views we have expressed is that in the trial of this case in the Federal court $ 5509 cannot be applied, because it has been judicially ascertained and determined by a tribunal of competent jurisdiction—the only one that could finally determine the question—that the defendants did not murder Walker. The Federal court may proceed as indicated in $ 5508, without reference to $ 5509. The lawful acquittal of the defendants of the charge of murder makes $ 5509 inapplicable in the present trial for conspiracy in the Federal court. In other words, the Federal court may proceed—the defendants having been lawfully acquitted in the state court of the crime of murdering Walker-just as if no such crime was committed or alleged to have been committed by them in the act of vielating the provisions of $ 5508. As a general rule, the Federal courts accept the judgment of the state court as to the meaning and scope of & state enactment, whether civil or criminal. Much more should the Federal court accept the judgment of a state court based upon a verdict of acquittal of a crime against the State, whenever, in a case in the Federal court, it becomes material to inquire whether that particular crime against the State was committed by the defendants on trial in the Federal court for an offense against the United States.
It should be said that the record discloses nothing that impeaches the good faith of the state court in its trial of these defendants on the charge of having murdered Walker. There is nothing to show, if that be material, that the trial in the state court was hastened or wrongly conducted in order that it might have effect upon the trial for conspiracy in the Federal court.
Without discussing other aspects of the case referred to by counsel, we hold, for the reasons stated, that the special pleas in bar were properly sustained, and that the judgment as respects those pleas must be affirmed.
It is so ordered.
HURLEY, TRUSTEE IN BANKRUPTCY OF THE ESTATE OF THE MOUNT CARMEL COAL COMPANY, BANKRUPT, APPELLANTS, v. THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILWAY COMPANY.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH
No. 95. Argued January 26, 27, 1909.-Decided April 5, 1909.
Coder v. Arts, post, p. 223, followed as to the jurisdiction of this court
of appeals from the Circuit Court of Appeals in bankruptcy proceedings, where the amount in controversy exceeds $2,000 and the question involved is one which might have been taken on writ of
error from the highest court of a State to this court. Equity looks at substance and not at form. An advance payment for
coal yet to be mined may be a pledge on the coal and, in that event, as in this case, the trustee in bankruptcy takes the mine subject to the obligation to deliver the coal as mined to the extent of the ad
vancement. 153 Fed. Rep. 503, affirmed.
THERE is practically no controversy in respect to the facts in this case. We take the following statement from the opinion of the Circuit Court of Appeals: In 1896 the Osage Carbon Company and the Cherokee and Pittsburg Coal and Mining Company, as parties of the first part, and Charles J. Devlin, as party of the second part, and the railway company as party of the third part, entered into an agreement whereby the parties of the first part leased to Devlin for a term of three years certain coal lands located in the State of Kansas, with the right to mine coal therefrom, and Delvin, the party of the second part, agreed
to sell and deliver to the railway company, and the latter to buy from him daily, all the coal required by it in the operation of certain of its lines of railroad in the State of Kansas at prices stated in the lease, payment to be made by the railway company on the 15th day of each month for all coal delivered to it during the preceding calendar month. Power was conferred upon the railway company to terminate the lease for failure by Devlin to perform any of his undertakings, and the right to assign the lease was made, subject to the consent of the railway company. Subsequently, Devlin duly assigned to the Mount Carmel Coal Company all his rights under the lease. By two successive agreements this contract was extended until June, 1906. All the parties continued in the performance of their respective obligations until July, 1905, when the Mount Carmel Company was adjudicated a bankrupt. Receivers were appointed and authorized to conduct the business of the bankrupt in the usual course until trustees should be chosen. The receivers and the subsequently appointed trustees successively continued to operate the mines under the orders of the court and to deliver the coal as required by the contract. While the receivers were in charge the railway company and the two coal companies, the original lessors, filed their joint intervening petition, setting forth their relations to the bankrupt under the contract, their rights thereunder, as already stated, and, in substance, that by an agreement between them and the bankrupt the contract had been modified to the extent that the railway company had agreed that without waiting until the 15th day of the month to make its payment for coal theretofore purchased, it would, in order to accommodate the Mount: Carmel Coal Company and enable it to pay off laborers and keep the mines going, make advance payments from time to time when necessary for those purposes. In pursuance of that agreement and for the purposes stated it had advanced $57,304.16, with the understanding that it should be repaid by the subsequent delivery of coal; that the intervening bankruptcy proceedings of July 7 and the appointment of receivers by the
Statement of the Case.
court alone prevented the bankrupt from carrying out its agreement and delivering the coal as required by the contract. The petitioners prayed that the lease be declared forfeited and void and the mines delivered back to them, or that the receivers be directed to deliver to the railway company the amount of coal so paid for in advance.
A referee, to whom the intervening petition was referred, reported unfavorably to the granting of any relief. His report was afterwards confirmed by the District Court and the petition dismissed. The referee found and reported that the amount claimed by the railway company was as stated in the intervening petition, and was advanced to enable the bankrupt to meet its pay rolls, but found that there was no testimony indicating an intention to modify the written lease. The District Court, in reviewing the action of the referee, said: “True, at the time the sums of money were advanced it was no doubt contemplated and agreed by the parties that the bankrupt would repay the money by furnishing the coal at the price of the coal measured in money by the terms of the contract and would furnish such coal in July and August, as claimed, but at the time of the failure of the bankrupt the coal remained in the ground unmined.” Both the referee and the District Court found that the agreement for the advance of the money was a separate, independent, parol contract, and had nothing to do with the original written contract as shown by the lease, and that, being such an independent, parol contract, there was no lien upon any of the property for its payment.
The Circuit Court of Appeals, 82 C. C. A. 453, reversed the judgment of the District Court and held that that court should have directed a surrender of the leased premises or required the trustees, upon assumption of the lease, to mine and deliver to the railway company sufficient coal to cover its advances; and it further held that the lease having expired, the assets of the estate, consisting in part of the money received for coal delivered to the railway company, should be subject to the payment of such debt as a preferential claim.