Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510; 47 S. Ct. 437; 71 L. Ed. 749 (1927)

Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510; 47 S. Ct. 437; 71 L. Ed. 749 (1927)

Facts—Tumey was arrested and brought before Mayor Pugh of North College Hill, Ohio, on the charge of unlawfully possessing intoxicating liquor.

The mayor, under statutes of Ohio, had the authority to hear a case of one charged with violating this prohibition act. Tumey moved to disqualify the mayor. The mayor denied the motion, proceeded to the trial, convicted Tumey of unlawfully possessing intoxicating liquor within Hamilton County, Ohio, fined him $100, and ordered that he be imprisoned until the fine and costs were paid. As a result of the conviction the mayor received a $12 fee from Tumey that he would not have received if the accused had not been convicted.

Question—Do certain Ohio statutes that provide for a trial by the mayor of a village of one accused of violating the prohibition act of the state deprive the accused of due process of law and violate the Fourteenth Amendment because of the pecuniary and other interests that those statutes give the mayor in the result of the trial?


ReasonsC.J. Taft (9–0). “All questions of judicial qualification may not involve constitutional validity. Thus matters of kinship, personal bias, state policy, remoteness of interest would seem generally to be matters of legislative discretion.  But it certainly violates the Fourteenth Amendment and deprives a defendant in a criminal case of due process of law to subject his liberty or property to the judgment of a court, the judge of which has a direct, personal, substantial pecuniary interest in reaching a conclusion against him in his case.” No matter what the evidence against him, the defendant has the right to have an impartial judge.

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