Ex parte Crow Dog murder case appeal

Facts of the Case

An inmate, an American Indian, was tried and convicted for the murder of another Indian that occurred on their reservation. The inmate brought an original writ of habeas corpus following his conviction for murder and his sentence to death, claiming that the district court lacked jurisdiction to try him and that the offense of which he was convicted was not an offense under the laws of the United States because the victim was a fellow Indian and the murder occurred on an Indian Reservation.




“No. In a 9-0 decision authored by Justice Stanley Matthews, the Court concluded that Congress had not granted federal courts jurisdiction over the murder of one Native American by another. The Court interpreted the 1868 treaty’s stipulation that criminals be surrendered to the federal government in context, and, given that the treaty was made between two parties, “the party of whites and their allies” and “tribe of Indians,” concluded the provision did not conflict with or repeal the 1834 law. Justice Matthews’ opinion goes on to note that, while the law is clearly conflicted on the question because the 1834 law was never expressly repealed, there was no “positive repugnancy between the provisions of the new laws and those of the old” that would entail an implied repeal.”

Case Information

Citation: 109 US 556 (1883)
Argued: Nov 26, 1883
Decided: Dec 17, 1883
Case Brief: 1883