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IN RE MAYFIELD, 141 U. S. 107 (1891)

U.S. Supreme Court

In re Mayfield, 141 U.S. 107 (1891)

In re Mayfield

No. 15, Original

Submitted April 27, 1891

Decided May 25, 1891

141 U.S. 107


A member of the Cherokee Nation, committing adultery with an unmarried woman within the limits of its territory, is amenable only to the courts of the Nation.

This was a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner averred that on the 19th day of October, 1890, he was indicted in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Arkansas, and subsequently tried, convicted and

Page 141 U. S. 108

sentenced to the Detroit House of Corrections for three years for the crime of adultery in the Indian Country. He further states that he was

"a Cherokee Indian by blood, and a recognized member of the Cherokee tribe of Indians, and resided at the time of his arrest for the crime aforesaid in the said Cherokee Nation, where the said crime is alleged to have been committed; that he has resided in the said Cherokee Nation all his life; . . . that he verily believes that the said district court had no jurisdiction of his person, he being a Cherokee Indian by blood and a resident of the Cherokee Nation and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the laws of said nation for the crimes aforesaid."

The indictment, a copy of which was annexed to the petition, charged that

"John Mayfield, on the first day of January, A.D. 1890, at the Cherokee Nation, in the Indian Country within the Western District of Arkansas aforesaid, did commit the crime of adultery with one Mollie Phillips, a white woman, and not an Indian, and a single woman, by him, the said John Mayfield, having then and there carnal knowledge of the body of the said Mollie Phillips, the said John Mayfield being then and there a married man, and then and there having a lawful wife alive other than the said Mollie Phillips, and the said John Mayfield and the said Mollie Phillips not being then and there lawfully married to each other."

Upon the hearing, it was admitted by the district attorney who tried the case, which admission also had the approval of the district judge, that upon the trial of the case,

"the evidence showed defendant to be one-fourth Indian by blood and a citizen of the Cherokee tribe of Indians, and that he was lawfully married to a white woman by blood; and that Mollie Phillips, with whom the crime of adultery was charged to have been committed, was a white woman by blood; and that they both resided in the Illinois District of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, at the time of the commission of the adultery of which Mayfield was convicted. "

Page 141 U. S. 111

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