Friday, December 6, 2013

United States v. Flores case brief

United States v. Flores case brief summary
289 U.S. 137 (1933)

An indictment charged defendant, an American citizen, with having murdered another American citizen aboard an American ship in foreign territorial waters. Defendant demurred. The District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered judgment sustaining the demurrer to an indictment. The United States appealed.

At the time the murder was committed, the ship was unloading at a river port some 250 miles inland from the ocean. The port was subject to the sovereignty of a colonial power. Defendant was brought back into America through a port within the territorial jurisdiction of the district court. The district court sustained a demurrer to the indictment and discharged defendant on the ground that the district court was without jurisdiction to try the offense charged.


  • On review, the Court reversed because the judicial power of the federal government conferred on Congress the power to define and punish offenses perpetrated by a citizen of the United States on board one of its merchant vessels lying in navigable waters within the territorial limits of another sovereignty and Congress had exercised that power by the enactment of § 272 of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C.S. § 451, under which the indictment was found.

The Court reversed the judgment that sustained defendant's demurrer to the indictment.

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