THOMAS v. STATE OF IOWA(1908)
[209 U.S. 258, 259] Messrs. Chester C. Cole and John T. Mulvaney for plaintiff in error.
[209 U.S. 258, 260] Messrs. Charles W. Lyon, H. W. Byers, and E. B. Evans for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Moody delivered the opinion of the court:
This is a writ of error by which it is sought to re-examine a judgment of the supreme court of the state of Iowa. The judgment affirms the conviction of the plaintiff in error of the crime of murder in the first degree. The Code of Iowa contains the following provisions:
The count of the indictment upon which the verdict was returned alleged that the accused deliberately, premeditatedly, and with malice aforethought, murdered one Mabel Schofield by administering poison to her. The judge presiding at the [209 U.S. 258, 262] trial instructed the jury in substance that if they were satisfied that the accused administered poison to Mabel Schofield, unlawfully and with bad intent, and that she died from the poison thus administered, then they should find him guilty of murder in the first degree, although there was no specific intent to kill. This instruction was approved by the supreme court as a correct expression of the law of the state. With that aspect of the question we have nothing to do. But it is assigned as error and argued here that this instruction in effect withdrew from the jury the question of the degree of the murder, and to that extent denied the plaintiff in error a trial by jury, and therefore denied him due process of law, in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Without intimating that upon this statement any Federal question is presented, we must first consider whether the question was raised in the court below in such a manner as to give us jurisdiction to consider it. There is nothing in the record to show that it was so raised. The plaintiff in error duly and seasonably excepted to the instructions complained of, but in no way was it then indicated (except as hereafter appears) that he claimed that any right under the Federal Constitution was impaired by them.
The judgment of the state supreme court does not contain the slightest allusion to any Federal question. The chief justice of the state supreme court, after the final judgment in that court, signed a bill of exceptions, which contains the following statement:
The Federal question, if it can be found in the record at all, must be found in this statement. It is too late to raise it for the first time in the petition for a writ of error from this court or in the assignments of error here. Montana ex rel. Haire v. Rice, 204 U.S. 291 , 51 L. ed. 490, 27 Sup. Ct. Rep. 281. All that appears in the statement is that exceptions were taken to certain parts of the charge to the jury, because they 'in effect deprived the plaintiff in error of his liberty without due process of law;' and that the question thus raised was discussed before the supreme court of the state. But something more than this vague and inferential suggestion of a right under the Constitution of the United States must be presented to the state courts to give us the limited authority to review their judgments which exists under the Constitution and is regulated by 709 of the Revised Statutes (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 575). A mere claim in the court below that there has been a denial of due process of law does not of itself raise a Federal question with sufficient distinctness of give us jurisdiction to consider whether there has been a violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. See Clarke v. McDade, 165 U.S. 168, 172 , 41 S. L. ed. 673, 674, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 284; Miller v. Cornwall R. Co. 168 U.S. 131, 134 , 42 S. L. ed. 409, 410, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 34; Harding v. Illinois, 196 U.S. 78, 88 , 49 S. L. ed. 394, 397, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 176.
Writ of error dismissed.