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MYERS ET AL. v. UNITED STATES.

decided: February 18, 1924.

MYERS ET AL
v.
UNITED STATES.



ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI.

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 264 U.S. Page 100]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Plaintiffs in error challenged the jurisdiction of the court below -- United States District Court, Western Division of the Western District of Missouri -- to try and punish them for disobeying its order, upon the ground that the contumacious acts occurred in another division of the district Only the question of jurisdiction is here.

An information charged that plaintiffs in error wilfully disobeyed the injunction lawfully issued in equity cause, St. Louis, San Francisco Railway Company, Complainant, v. International Association of Machinists, et al., Defendants, pending in the Western Division of the Western District

[ 264 U.S. Page 101]

     of Missouri, by attempting, within the Southwestern Division of the same district, to prevent certain railroad employees from continuing at work. The order ran against men on strike, and the cause is treated as one within the purview of the Clayton Act (October 15, 1914, c. 323; 38 Stat. 730).Sections 21, 22, 24 and 25 of that act are set out below.*fn1

Counsel for plaintiffs in error maintain that ordinary contempts punishable by courts of equity without trial by jury differ radically from the "statutory contempt" here disclosed, which, under the Clayton Act, must be dealt with as a criminal offense. And they insist that ยงยง 51, 52

[ 264 U.S. Page 102]

     and 53, Judicial Code, control the venue when such "statutory contempt" is alleged.

Section 51 provides that, with certain exceptions, "no person shall be arrested in one district for trial in another, in any civil action before a district court." . . . Section 52. "When a State contains more than one district, every suit not of a local nature, in the district court thereof, against a single defendant, inhabitant of such State, must be brought in the district where he resides; but if there are two or more defendants, residing in different districts of the State, it may be brought in either district, and a duplicate writ may be issued against the defendants, directed to the marshal of any other district in which any defendant resides." . . . Section 53. "When a district

[ 264 U.S. Page 103]

     contains more than one division, every suit not of a local nature against a single defendant must be brought in the division where he resides; but if there are two or more defendants residing in different divisions of the district it may be brought in either division. . . . All prosecutions for crimes or offenses shall be had within the division of such districts where the same were committed, unless the court, or the judge thereof, upon the application of the defendant, shall order the cause to be transferred for prosecution to another division of the district."

None of the cited Code sections makes specific reference to contempt proceedings. These are sui generis -- neither civil actions nor prosecutions for offenses, within the ordinary meaning of those terms -- and exertions of the power inherent in all courts to enforce obedience, something they must possess in order ...


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