MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
By the Revised Statutes, as by the previous act admitting the State of Minnesota into the Union, the whole State was constituted one judicial district. Act of May 11, 1858, c. 31, § 3; 11 Stat. 285; Rev. Stat. § 531. By the act of April 26, 1890, c. 167, which took effect August 1, 1890, the District of Minnesota was divided into six divisions for the purpose of holding terms of court; the courts for the third division, which included Saint Paul, were to be held at Saint Paul on the fourth Tuesday in June and the second Tuesday in January, and the courts for the fifth division, which included
But by the act of July 12, 1894, c. 132, entitled "An act regulating the procedure in criminal causes in the District of Minnesota," it was enacted, in section 1, that "all criminal proceedings instituted for the trial of offences against the laws of the United States arising in the District of Minnesota shall be brought, had and prosecuted in the division of said district in which such offences were committed;" and, in section 2, that "this act shall take effect upon its passage." 28 Stat. 102.
As was said by this court in a recent case, "in all cases where life or liberty is affected by its proceedings, the court must keep strictly within the limits of the law authorizing it to take jurisdiction, and to try the case, and to render judgment. It cannot pass beyond those limits, in any essential requirement, in either stage of these proceedings; and its authority in those particulars is not to be enlarged by any mere inferences from the law, or doubtful construction of its terms." "It is plain that such court has jurisdiction to render a particular judgment, only when the offence charged is within the class of offences placed by the law under its jurisdiction; and when, in taking custody of the accused, and in its modes of procedure to the determination of the question of his guilt or innocence, and in rendering judgment, the court keeps within the limitations prescribed by the law, customary or statutory. When the court goes out of these limitations, its action, to the extent of such excess, is void." In re Bonner, 151 U.S. 242, 256, 257.
The act of 1894, now in question, is doubtless to be construed as operating prospectively, and not retrospectively, upon the subject legislated upon. That subject, however, is not a matter of substantive criminal law, but is one of jurisdiction and procedure only. The act does not create any new offence, or make any change in the proof or the punishment
The two cases, principally relied on by the United States, of Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 297, and Caha v. United States, 152 U.S. 211, 214, by implication, at least, support this conclusion. In Caha's case, the act of Congress expressly reserved the former jurisdiction, not only over prosecutions already commenced, but also over crimes already committed. In Logan's case, the act of Congress, as this court observed, "does not affect the authority of the grand jury for the district, sitting at any place at which the court is appointed to be held, to present indictments for offences committed
Criminal proceedings cannot be said to be brought or instituted until a formal charge is openly made against the accused, either by indictment presented or information filed in court, or, at the least, by complaint before a magistrate. Virginia v. Paul, 148 U.S. 107, 119, 121; Rex v. Phillips, Russ. & Ry. 369; Regina v. Parker, Leigh & Cave, 459; S.C. 9 Cox Crim. Cas. 475. The submission of a bill of indictment by the attorney for the government to the grand jury, and the examination of witnesses before them, are both in secret, and are no part of the criminal proceedings against the accused, but are merely to assist the grand jury in determining whether such proceedings shall be commenced; the grand jury may ignore the bill, and decline to find any indictment; and it cannot be known whether any proceedings will be instituted against the accused until an indictment against him is presented in open court.
In the present case, each indictment, for an offence committed in the fifth division of the district, having been first presented, after the act of 1894 took effect, to the court held in the third division, and no complaint having been previously made against the defendant, the court had no jurisdiction of the case; and for this reason, without considering the other questions argued at the bar, the
Judgment is reversed, and the case remanded with directions to set aside the verdicts and to sustain the demurrers to the indictments.