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prisoner on a proper indictment, or according to correct principles of law."
In the case of State v. Simms, 71 Mo. 538, it was decided that this provision overthrows the rule laid down in the case of State v. Ro88, ubi supra, and was "equivalent to declaring that when such judgment is reversed for error at law, the trial had is to be regarded as a mistrial, and that the cause, when remanded, is put on the same footing as a new trial, as if the cause had been submitted to a jury, resulting in a mistrial by the discharge of the jury in consequence of their inability to agree on a verdict.”
The rule thus introduced by the Constitution of 1875 was the one applied in the trial of the prisoner, instead of that previously in force; and the contention is, that to apply it in a case such as the present, where the alleged offence was committed prior to the adoption of the new constitution, is to give it operation as an ex post facto law, in violation of the prohibition of the Constitution of the United States.
In examining this proposition it must constantly be borne in mind, that the plea of guilty of murder in the second degree, the legal effect of which, when admitted, is the precise subject of the question, was entered long after the new rule established by the Constitution of Missouri took effect; that the prisoner himself moved to set it aside, and for leave to renew his plea of not guilty, on the ground that he had been misled into making his plea of guilty under circumstances that would make it operate as a fraud upon his rights, if it were permitted to stand ; and that, because the court denied this motion, he made and prosecuted bis appeal for a reversal of its judgment, in full view of the rule, then in force, of the application of which he now complains, which expressly declared what should be the effect of such a reversal.
The classification of ex post facto laws first made by Mr. Justice Chase, in Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 390, seems to have been generally accepted.
is as follows: "1st, Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal, and punishes such action.' 2d, Every law that aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when committed. 3d, Every law that
changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when committed. 4th, Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender." This definition was the basis of the opinion of the court in Cummings v. The State of Missouri, 4 Wall. 277, and Ex parte Garland, id. 333, and was expressly relied on in the opinion of the dissenting judges, which says: “This exposition of the nature of ex post facto laws has never been denied, nor has any court or any commentator on the Constitution added to the classes of laws here set forth, as coming within that clause of the organic law.” p. 391.
Now, under which of these heads does the controverted rule of the Missouri Constitution fall? It cannot be contended that it is embraced in either of the first three. If in any, it must be covered by the fourth. But whạt rule of evidence, existing at the time of the commission of the offence, is altered to the disadvantage of the prisoner? The answer made is this: that, at that time, an accepted plea of guilty of murder in the second degree was conclusive proof that the prisoner was not guilty of murder in the first degree, and that it was abrogated, so as to deprive the prisoner of the benefit of it. But while that rule was in force, the prisoner had no such evidence of which he could avail himself. How, then, has he been deprived of any benefit from it? He had not, during the period while the rule was in force, entered any plea of guilty of murder in the second degree, and no such plea had been admitted by the State. All that can be said is, that if, while the rule was in force he had entered such a plea with the consent of the State, its legal effect would have been as claimed, and by its change he has lost what advantage he would have had in such a contingency. But it does not follow that such a contingency would have happened. It was not within the power of the prisoner to bring it about, for it required the concurrence and consent of the State; and it cannot be assumed that, under such a rule and in such a case, that consent would have been given. It is not enough to say that, under a ruling of the court, a party might have lost the benefit of certain evidence,
if such evidence had existed. To predicate error in such a case, it must be shown that the party had evidence of which, in fact, he has been illegally deprived. Such a case would have been presented here, if the plea of guilty of murder in the second degree had been entered and accepted before the Constitution of 1875 took effect and while the old rule was in force. Then the law would have taken effect upon the transaction between the prisoner and the prosecution, in the acceptance of his plea; the status of the prisoner would have been fixed and declared; he would have stood acquitted of record of the charge of murder in the first degree; and the new rule would have been an ex post facto law if it had made him liable to conviction and punishment for an offence of which by law he bad been declared to be innocent.
But, in the circumstances of the present case, the evidence, of which it is said the prisoner has been deprived, came into being after the law had been changed. It was evidence created by the law itself, for it consists simply in a technical inference; and the law in force when it was created necessarily determines its quality and effect. That law did not operate upon the offence to change its character; nor upon its punishment to aggravate it; nor upon the evidence which, according to the law in force at the time of its commission, was competent to prove or disprove it. It operated upon a transaction between the prisoner and the prosecution, which might or might not have taken place; which could not take place without mutual consent; and when it did take place, that consent must be supposed to bave been given by both with reference to the law as it then existed, and not with reference to a law which had then been repealed.
It is the essential characteristic of an ex post facto law that it should operate retrospectively, so as to change the law in respect to an act or transaction already complete and past. Such is not the effect of the rule of the Constitution of Missouri now in question. As has been shown, it does not, in any particular, affect the crime charged, either in its definition, punishment, or proof. It simply declares what shall be the legal effect, in the future, of acts and transactions thereafter taking place. It enacts that any future erroneous and unlaw
ful conviction for a less offence, thereafter reversed on the application of the accused, shall be held for naught, to all intents and purposes, and shall not, after such reversal, operate as a technical acquittal of any higher grade of crime, for which there might have been a conviction under the same indictment. It imposes upon the prisoner no penalty or disability. It cannot affect the case of any individual, except upon his own request, for he must take the first step in its application. When he pleads guilty of murder in the second degree, he knows that its acceptance cannot operate as an acquittal of the higher offence. When he asks to have the conviction reversed, he understands that if his application is granted, the judgment must be set aside with the same effect as if it had never been rendered. It does not touch the substance or merits of his defence, and is in itself a sensible and just rule in criminal procedure.
And, “ so far as mere modes of procedure are concerned," says Judge Cooley, Const. Lim. 272, "a party has no more right in a criminal than in a civil action to insist that his case shall be disposed of under the law in force when the act to be investigated is charged to have taken place. Remedies must always be under the control of the legislature, and it would create endless confusion in legal proceedings if every case was to be conducted only in accordance with the rules of practice, and heard only by the courts, in existence when its facts arose. The legislature may abolish courts and create new ones, and it may prescribe altogether different modes of procedure in its discretion, though it cannot lawfully, we think, in so doing, dispense with any of those substantial protections with which the existing law surrounds the person accused of crime. Statutes giving the government additional challenges, and others which authorized the amendment of indictments, have been sustained and applied to past transactions, as doubtless would be
any similar statute calculated merely to improve the remedy, and in its operation working no injustice to the defendant and depriving bim of no substantial right.” Accordingly it was held by this court, in Gut v. The State, 9 Wall. 35, in the language of Mr. Justice Field, delivering its opinion, that “ law changing the place of trial from one county to another
county in the same district, or even to a different district from that in which the offence was committed or the indictment found, is not an ex post facto law, though passed subsequent to the commission of the offence or the finding of the indictment.” And in the case of Ex parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 506, it was the unanimous decision of the court, that it was competent for Congress, in a case affecting personal liberty, to deprive the complaining party of the benefit of an appeal from the judgment of an inferior court, after his appeal had taken effect and while it was pending. It would have been equally competent for the Constitution of Missouri to have declared that no appeal or writ of error should thereafter be allowed to reverse the judgment of the court of original jurisdiction in any pending criminal cause, which certainly would be giving a different, because irreversible, effect to that judgment from what such judgments would have had under the law in force when the offence was committed. If it be true, in the logic of the law, as it is in all its other applications, that the greater includes the less, then it was competent for that constitution to provide that, as to all judgments in criminal cases thereafter rendered, which should be reversed for error, on the appeal of the defendant, the effect of the reversal should be such as not to be a bar to a subsequent conviction for any crime described in the indictment; for that would have been to say, not that there shall be no appeal at all, but that if an appeal is taken its effect shall only be such as is prescribed in the law allow
In Commonwealth v. Holley, 3 Gray (Mass.), 458, Shaw, C. J., said: “ The object of the Declaration of Rights was to secure substantial privileges and benefits to parties criminally charged; not to require particular forms, except where they are necessary to the purposes of justice and fair dealing towards persons accused, so as to insure a full and fair trial.” And in Commonwealth v. Hall, 97 Mass. 570, the court, speaking of a statutory provision authorizing the amendment of indictments, so as to allege a former conviction, the effect of which was to increase the penalty, said: “We entertain no doubt of the constitutionality of this section, which promotes the ends of justice by taking away a purely technical objection, while