Wednesday, January 30, 2013

United States v. Klein case brief

United States v. Klein case summary
80 U.S. 128 (1871)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Defendant, the United States, appealed judgment from the Court of Claims which awarded the proceeds of deceased's cotton, which was abandoned to the treasury agents of the United States during the Civil War, to plaintiff, deceased's administrator.

-Deceased had done acts considered to be acts in aid of the rebellion during the Civil War. He had abandoned cotton to agents of the Treasury Department, who sold it and placed the proceeds into the Treasury of the United States.
-After the war, the deceased took an amnesty oath which would afford him a pardon and the restoration of his property pursuant to a congressional provision.
-The Court of Claims pronounced him entitled to a judgment for the net proceeds in the treasury and, subsequently, the United States appealed. On appeal, the Court affirmed, holding that title to the proceeds of the property which came to the possession of the government by capture or abandonment was in no case divested out of the original owner.

The Court concluded that (1) the congressional provision improperly denied the Court appellate jurisdiction regarding decisions by the Court of Claims based on such pardons and (2) the congressional provision infringed the President's constitutional power to grant pardons.

-The Constitution provides that the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court and such inferior courts as the Congress shall from time to time ordain and establish. The same instrument, in the last clause of the same article, provides that in all cases other than those of original jurisdiction, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction both as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
-It is the intention of the Constitution that each of the great co-ordinate departments of the government -- the legislative, the executive, and the judicial -- shall be, in its sphere, independent of the others. To the executive alone is intrusted the power of pardon; and it is granted without limit. Pardon includes amnesty. It blots out the offence pardoned and removes all its penal consequences. It may be granted on conditions. The legislature cannot change the effect of such a pardon any more than the executive can change a law.

The Court affirmed the decision to award the administrator the proceeds of deceased's cotton.
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