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Joplin Mercantile Co. v. United States, 236 U.S. 531 (1915)

Joplin Mercantile Co. v. United States

No. 648

Argued January 11, 1915

Decided February 23, 1915

236 U.S. 531


A mere conspiracy, without overt acts done to effect its object, is not indictable under § 37, Judicial Code, and where the averment respecting the formation of the conspiracy refers to no other clause of the indictment for certainty, it must be interpreted as it stands, and, in the absence of a distinct averment that the conspiracy was formed to introduce liquors into Indian country within Oklahoma from without the state, the indictment must be construed as relating only to intrastate transactions; it cannot be construed as including interstate transactions because of other averments as to the overt acts of some of the conspirators.

Where concurrent state and federal control, although not necessarily exclusive of each other, would be productive of serious inconvenience

Page 236 U. S. 532

and confusion, this Court may be, as in construing the Act of March 1, 1895, and the Oklahoma Enabling Act, constrained to hold that the active exercise of federal authority in suppressing the introduction of liquor into Indian country under the former was intended to be suspended pending the exertion of state authority on the same subject as prescribed by the Enabling Act.

Pending the continuance of state prohibition as prescribed by the Oklahoma Enabling Act, the provisions of the Act of March l, 1895, c. 145, 28 Stat. 693, respecting intrastate transactions in regard to introducing intoxicating liquors into that part of the state which was the Indian Territory are unenforceable although the statute has not been expressly repealed.

The Oklahoma Enabling Act did not repeal the Acts of 1892 and 1897, prohibiting the introduction of liquor into Indian country within Oklahoma either as to interstate or intrastate shipments, Ex Parte Webb, 225 U. S. 63, and United States v. Wright, 229 U. S. 226, and, in this case, the indictment sufficiently charges a conspiracy to commit an offense against those acts.

213 F. 926 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction and application of the federal statutes relating to the introduction of liquor into Indian country within the State of Oklahoma, are stated in the opinion.

Page 236 U. S. 534

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