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Opinion of the Court.
ing from such death; and the amount so recovered shall be divided among the persons entitled to the benefit of the action, or such of them as shall then be alive, in such shares as the jury shall find by their verdict." § 2155.
The obvious intent and effect of these provisions is that the action is to be brought once for all; that it is to be prosecuted for the benefit of all the relatives mentioned, the husband oi the wife, the children and the parents, of the deceased; and that any damages recovered are to belong to all those relatives, and to be shared among them in the proportions determined by the verdict of the jury. By the express terms of the stat ute, the action may be brought by all or any of them, but for the benefit of all; no one or more of them, less than all, can excuse the executor or administrator from bringing and prosecuting the action, if they do not; the action does not abate by the death of the one suing, but may be prosecuted by the survivors, if there are any; and the damages recovered are to be divided among all of them, in such shares as the jury shall fix by their verdict. The authority given for bringing and prose. cuting the action, in the name of any one or more of the persons entitled, for the benefit of all, avoids multiplicity of actions, and difficulties arising from nonjoinder of plaintiffs; but it gives the nominal plaintiff or plaintiffs no power to compromise or to release the rights of the other beneficiaries, or to lessen or alter the shares awarded by the jury.
This construction of the statute is in accord with the con struction which, before its passage, had been given by the Supreme Court of Texas to the similar statute of that State. Houston & Texas Central Railway v. Bradley, 45 Texas, 171, 176, 179; March v. Walker, 48 Texas, 372, 376, 377; Houston & Texas Central Railway v. Moore, 49 Texas, 31, 45, 46; Galveston &c. Railroad v. Le Gierse, 51 Texas, 189, 201: Houston & Texas Central Railway v. Cowser, 57 Texas, 293; East Line & Red River Railway v. Culberson, 68 Texas, 664. See also St. Louis &c. Railway v. Needham, 10 U. S. App. 339.
In the present case, the deceased left a widow, four children. and a father and mother. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $50,000, of which they awarded $8000 to the widow,
Opinion of the Court.
$8000 to each child, and $5000 to either parent of the deceased. After the defendant had moved for a new trial, the widow, in whose name alone the action was brought, filed a remittitur, by which she undertook to reduce her share to $6000, the share of each child to $3000, and the shares of the parents to one dollar each, and the whole verdict to $18,002.
According to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Texas, in Houston & Texas Central Railway v. Bradley and Galveston &c. Railroad v. Le Gierse, above cited, the widow could not compromise or release the rights even of her own minor children. She certainly could not release, in whole or in part, the rights of her father in law and mother in law.
The statute, indeed, as has been seen, creates but a single liability; the matter in controversy, as between the defendant, on the one side, and the plaintiff and the other persons for whose benefit the action is brought, on the other, is the whole amount of the damages found by the jury; and the defendant has no concern in the apportionment of damages among the persons entitled, provided that is done as the statute requires. Texas & Pacific Railway v. Gentry, ante, 353.
But the defendant has the right to object to a judgment apportioning the damages, not as lawfully divided by the jury, but as unlawfully fixed by the plaintiff of record, reducing to nominal damages the sums awarded by the jury to some of the persons entitled, and thereby leaving the defendant open to the danger of another suit by those persons to obtain the damages of which the present plaintiff has undertaken to deprive them. Northern Pacific Railroad v. Lewis, 162
U. S. 366, 379.
The opinion of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Arizona, which, as required by section 949 of the Revised Statutes of the Territory, was in writing and recorded, shows that that court not only "inclined to the view that the jury was prompted, through sympathy for the widow and children, and out of the enlarged liberality of which juries in such cases are usually possessed, to award damages largely in excess of what the proofs warranted;" but that it considered that the damages awarded were clearly excessive and that it was
Statement of the Case.
manifest from the record that, but for the remittitur, the judge before whom the trial was had would have ordered a new trial.
As this court now holds the remittitur to have been unauthorized and invalid, the proper order, without considering other questions argued at the bar, will be
Judgment reversed, and case remanded to the Supreme Court of the Territory, with directions to cause the verdict to be set aside and a new trial had.
TALTON v. MAYES.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS.
No. 227. Argued April 16, 17, 1896.—Decided May 18, 1896.
The crime of murder committed by one Cherokee Indian upon the person of another within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee nation is not an offence against the United States, but an offence against the local laws of the Cherokee nation; and the statutes of the United States which provide for an indictment by a grand jury, and the number of persons who shall constitute such a body, have no application.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution does not apply to local legislation of the Cherokee nation, so as to require all prosecutions for offences committed against the laws of that nation to be initiated by a grand jury in accordance with the provisions of that amendment. The question whether a statute of the Cherokee nation which was not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or in conflict with any treaty or law of the United States had been repealed by another statute of that nation, and the determination of what was the existing law of the Cherokee nation as to the constitution of the grand jury, is solely a matter within the jurisdiction of the courts of that nation, and the decision of such a question in itself necessarily involves no infraction of the Constitution of the United States.
On February 15, 1893, a petition for habeas corpus was filed in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Arkansas, setting forth that the plaintiff therein (who is the appellant here) was, on the 31st day of December,
Statement of the Case.
1892, convicted, on a charge of murder, in a special Supreme Court of the Cherokee nation, Cooweeskoowee District, and sentenced to be hanged on February 28, 1893, and that petitioner was then held, awaiting the time of execution, in the national jail at Tahlequah, Indian Territory, by Wash. Mayes, high sheriff of the Cherokee nation. It was further alleged that the petitioner was deprived of his liberty without due process of law; that he was in confinement in contravention to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and also in violation of the constitution and laws of the Cherokee nation. These contentions rested upon the averment that the indictment under which he had been tried and convicted was void because returned by a body consisting of five grand jurors, which was not only an insufficient number to constitute a grand jury under the Constitution and laws of the United States, but also was wholly inadequate to compose such jury under the laws of the Cherokee nation, which, it was alleged, provided for a grand jury of thirteen, of which number a majority was necessary to find an indictment. The petitioner, moreover, averred that he had not been tried by a fair and impartial jury, and that many gross irregularities and errors to his prejudice had been committed on the trial. The district judge issued the writ, which was duly served upon the high sheriff, who produced the body of the petitioner and made return setting up the conviction and sentence as justifying the detention of the prisoner. Incorporated in the return was a transcript of the proceedings in the Cherokee court had upon the indictment and trial of the petitioner. In the copy of the indictment contained in the original transcript, filed in this court, it was recited that the indictment was found by the grand jury on the 1st day of December, 1892, while the offence therein stated was alleged to have been committed "on or about the 3d day of December, 1892." The evidence contained in the transcript, however, showed that the offence was committed on November 3, 1892, and in a supplement to the transcript, filed in this court, it appears that said date was given in the indictment. No motion or demurrer or other attack upon the sufficiency of the indictment was made upon the trial in
Opinion of the Court.
the Cherokee court based upon the ground that the offence was stated in the indictment to have been committed on a date subsequent to the finding of the indictment, nor is there any specification of error of that character contained in the petition for the allowance of the writ of habeas corpus. After hearing, the district judge discharged the writ and remanded the petitioner to the custody of the sheriff, and from this judgment the appeal now under consideration was allowed.
Mr. Leonidas D. Farrell for appellant. Mr. Elijah V. Brookshire and Mr. Benjamin T. Duval were on his brief.
Mr. R. C. Garland for appellee. Mr. A. H. Garland and Mr. William M. Cravens were on his brief.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
Prior to May, 1892, a law enacted by the legislature of the Cherokee nation made it the duty of the judges of the Circuit and District Courts of the nation, fourteen days before the commencement of the first regular term of said courts, to furnish to the sheriff a list of the names of five persons, who should be summoned by the sheriff to act as grand jurors for that district during the year. The first regular term of the courts named commenced on the second Monday in May. On November 28, 1892, a law was enacted providing for the summoning and empanelling of a grand jury of thirteen, the names of the persons to compose such jury to be furnished to the sheriff, as under the previous law, fourteen days before the commencement of the regular term of the Circuit and District Courts. There was no express repeal of the provisions of the prior law. Under the terms of the act of November 28, 1892, a grand jury could not have been empanelled before the term beginning on the second Monday of May, 1893. The indictment in question was returned in December, 1892, by a grand jury consisting of five persons, which grand jury had been empanelled under the prior law, to serve during the year 1892.