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H. OF R.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

JANUARY, 1804.

duced by himself in a former Congress, which and censure? But gentlemen are alarmed at the was expressed in general terms, and directed to ephithet inquisitorial, and imagination teems with general objects, and of course was perfectly dis- the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. If the similar to the present one.

creation of this committee be an unauthorized act, Allusions have repeatedly been made to a re- if in creating it we transcend those limits which mark of mine in the debate of yesterday, that this we ought, by a reasonable construction of the House is the grand inquest of the nation. It has Constitution, to set to our own powers, it instantbeen asked, if a grand jury were informed that a ly becomes inquisitorial in its nature and in its murder has been committed, would they not send operation. We must delegate to it more than for evidence to ascertain the fact? We are the general powers. We musi authorize it to send grand inquest of the nation, and our practice ought, for persons, and probably for papers and records. in many respects, to be analogous to that of grand The proposition is hostile to republican principles, juries; but in becoming thai inquest, we do not and, as a republican, I cannot give my vote in its entirely lose our deliberative and legislative char. favor. acter. I believe it would be descending from the Mr. Holland.- When I before addressed the dignity of our station, to listen to the murmurs of House on this subject, I had no doubt of the charge general rumor, and seek for guilt. I have heard being sufficiently explicit to found an inquiry inthat one of the judges whom we are called upon to the conduct of the judges. My only doubt was to censure, when in the exercise of his judicial whether it was proper to proceed without affidafunctions, inquired of a jury, “Is there no sedition vit. Since yesterday, I have reflected on the here? Are ihere no seditious newspapers within course pursued in similar cases; and I will state your jurisdiction ?" I am ignorant whether this to the House the proceedings adopted in two repori be or be not founded on fact. But if it be or three cases in the Legislature of which I was true, let me ask, shall we not pursue a similar a member: In the year 1796, a charge was precourse by adopting the present resolution? Shall ferred against certain judges of the State of North we not authorize a committee to inquire, Is there Carolina for illegally extending their power. A no judicial guilt abroad in our land ? 'Is there committee was appointed to inquire into their no latent inquiry in some unexplored corner of conduct, and the result was, that the judges had our country? A grand jury is sworn diligently exiled certain persons from the State. The proto inquire, and true presentment make, of all such ceedings did not go so far as an impeachment; offences against the laws of the land, as shall come for the judges wroie an explanatory letter, which to their knowledge. Have we taken such an oath ? gave satisfaction, and they were acquitted with Are we under such obligations? And are we honor. The other charge, to which I have alludnot about to attach to ourselves that character ed, was against the board of army accounts;-that which gentlemen tell us is so odious, the character also was referred to a committee. The last case of common informers? I am under no fears that is the most recent. A suspicion existed that the the stream of justice, which ought to be so pure, Secretary of State had been guilty of misconduct. will become turbid, from a want of accusers, when A letter had been received by the Governor from our judges shall guilty of crimes. When our some citizens to that effect; in consequence of courts shall become corrupt and despotic, patriotic which, and of other corroborating circurostances, motives will induce our citizens to bring torward the Legislature appointed a committee of inquiaccusations. I am also sensible of the propriety ry, of which I had the honor to be a member. and force of the observation of the gentleman from That committee was empowered to send for perConnecticut (Mr. R. Griswold) that the trial in sons and papers. There was no specific charge, question was a transaction of great publicity, and but an impeachment was contemplated, if the ofall its circumstances must have been known to ficer should appear to be guilty. The Secretary thousands of our citizens. This induces me to was brought before the committee, who examinbelieve that the conduct of the court was not so ed him on oath, and reported the existence of oppressive and despotic as is now represented. frauds inuch more extensive than had been imaWhy has this awful charge slumbered so long? gined ; in consequence of which the land office

One or two remarks upon the allusions that was shut up, and the Secretary notified that artihave been made to my observation, that we are cles of impeachment would be exhibited against about to assume censorial and inquisitorial pow-him. But the late period of the session not then ers, and I will dismiss the subject. What is the admitting of a trial, it was postponed to the next language of the resolution ? Without the allega. General Assembly. At the succeeding Assembly tion of a single fact, it constitutes a committee to the officer resigned, and superseded the necessity inquire whether the judges have not so acted in of an impeachment. He was afterwards indicted their official capacity as to render necessary the at common law. These precedents, drawn from interposition of the Constitutional powers of this the proceedings of the Legislature of the State House. The expression is unequivocal; the allu- which I have the honor to represent, induce me sion to the power of impeachment is perfectly to think that the course proposed is proper, and I obvious. This is what is called a petitio princi- shall, accordingly, vote for the appointment of a pii; it takes for granted, at least in some degree. committee of inquiry. what remains to be proved, that the conduct of Mr. Dennis said, he did not rise for the purthe judges has been improper and illegal. Else pose of entering into an investigation of the merwhy adopt a language which implies suspicion its of the question, but principally for the purpose

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JANUARY, 1804.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

H. of R.

of stating, in a few words, what appeared to be He said he read this by way of argument, to the difference between the friends and the oppo- show that the present resolution ought to be renents of the resolution. He had never experi jected, and though he would not offer it himself, enced, on any occasion, a stronger conflict be-.in case the resolution before them should be retween inclination and duty than in the presentjected, yet he would pledge himself to vote for instance. On the one hand, he was confident such an one, if the gentleman from Virginia or that, after the official conduct of the judges had any other member would offer it. The resolution been thus publicly implicated, it must be de- which has been read, embraces all the facts stated sirable to them that an investigation of the by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, which confacts charged against them should take place, and tains the only charge that has been exhibited. it seemed to be a duty due to those gentlemen, But if any gentleman possesses a knowledge of that they should have an opportunity of being any other facts or charges, let him specify them, confronted with their accusers. On the other and he would be willing to vote for an extension hand, we owe to the laws and Constitution, as of the powers of the committee to them also; for well as to those considerations which must al. he did not wish to confine the inquiry to the speways govern in the establishment of important cific charge stated by the gentleman from Pennprecedents, a paramount duty, which appeared in sylvania, if other genilemen had charges to exbibit, this case irreconcileable with the indulgence of and would state them in the resolution. If they individual considerations. The true difference would specify a charge or charges of a serious between the advocates and the opponents of the nature, and give us any reason to believe them resolution appeared to be this: That the one true, although originating from hearsay evidence, thought it a proper procedure to raise an inquisi- he would vote for the inquiry proposed ; and he torial committee, without any definite or assigna- begged that he should be understood as objecting ble object, and without stating in the resolution rather on the ground that no charge had been any specific charge. The other did not demand, specified, than on the ground of incompetent evias it had been supposed, the production of all the dence. The vague charges verbally communi. evidence in the outset of the proceeding, which cated by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, and might be necessary in the ulterior stages of the none of which are reduced to writing, give no transaction, nor that precise and technical speci- grounds of procedure; not only because, if true, fication of the charges which might be proper in they constitute no cause for impeachment, but bearticles of impeachment, but only required that cause they are not specified in the resolution. some fact should be stated, or charge alleged, as The motion was iken further amended to read the basis on which to erect a committee. He be- as follows: lieved, to create a committee by resolution, with Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire general inquisitorial powers, without specifying into the official conduct of Samuel Chase, one of the any charge, or stating any reason in the resolu- associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United tion for the proceeding, was without precedent, States, and of Richard Peters, district judge of the and might become an engine of oppression. In district of Pennsylvania, and to report their opinion order to satisfy the friends of the resolution on whether the said Samuel Chase and Richard Peters, or that, he did not wish to avoid that investiga- either of them, have so acted, in their judicial capacity, tion which might be founded on proper princi- as to require the interposition of the Constitutional ples, and which he believed, after what has been power of this House. said, is rather courted than avoided by the judges Mr. SPEAKER stated the question, that the in question. He would beg leave to read, in his House do agree to the said motion, as so amended, place, the form of a resolution, such as he sup- when an adjournment was called for and carried posed ought to be the ground-work of a procedure -yeas 61, nays 43. like this:

“ Whereas information hath been given to the House, by one of its members, that, in a certain prosecution for

SATURDAY January 7. treason, on the part of the United States, against a cer- Mr. Nicholson, from the committee appointed tain John Fries, pending in the circuit court of the on the memorial of Alexander Moultrie, agent United States, in the State of Pennsylvania, Samuel for the South Carolina Yazoo Company, and of Chase, one of the associate justices of the Supreme William Cowan, agent of the Virginia Yazoo Court of the United States, and Richard Peters, district Company, made a report, going considerably into judge for the district of Pennsylvania, by whom the said circuit court was then holden, did inform the coun

detail, and concluding with a resolution adverse sel for the prisoner that, as the court had formed their to the prayer of the memorialist. Referred to a opinion upon the point of law, and would direct the Committee of the Whole on Monday. jury thereupon, the counsel for the prisoner must con- OFFICIAL CONDUCT OF JUDGE CHASE. fine themselves to the question of fact only. And whereas, it is represented that, in consequence of such

The House resumed the consideration of the determination of the court, the counsel did refuse to question depending yesterday, at the time of adaddress the jury on the question of fact, and the said journment, that the House do agree to the motion John Fries was found guilty of treason, and sentenced of the fifth instant, as amended by the House, for by the court to the punishment in such case, by the the appointment of a committee to inquire into laws of the United States, provided, and was pardoned the official conduct of Samuel Chase, one of the by the President of the United States."

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H.OF R.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

JANUARY, 1804.

United States, and of Richard Peters, district himself with this character, Mr. R. said he exjudge of the district of Pennsylvania."

pected to have seen him at his post-he regretted Mr. J. RANDOLPH expressed his regret that the ihat he did not see him there, and that his duty attempt which he had made yesterday, to reply did not permit him to withhold the observations to the very personal allusions of a gentleman which he was compelled to make. Whilst, howfrom Connecticut, (Mr. GRISWOLD,) whom he ever, the gentleman was engaged in discharging was sorry not to see in his place, had, by the ad- the new and important function with which he journment, proved abortive. Such was his regard stood self-invested, he seemed cautious of replyfor the opinions of the House, that he should al- ing to the masterly statement of his venerable ways, when called upon from a respectable quar- friend from Pennsylvania, and which he believed ter, justify any conduct which he deemed it proper had remained unanswered because it was unanto pursue in its deliberations. He felt it due to swerable. It must, said Mr. R., be a subject of the respect in which he held the Chair and those high gratification to us all, and I congratulate this around it to reply to the remarks of the gentle House upon it, that age has not yei dimmed the man from Connecticut, and this consideration lustre of those talents which have so long prealone could have induced him to offer anything sided in the councils of this country. And if the in addition to what he had already advanced in time shall come when we are to resign our underfavor of the motion. He should oiherwise have standings and place ourselves under i he direction left the resolution to its fate. In that fate he did of an individual, I hope to be permitted to range not feel himself personally implicated. If it should myself under the banners of that tried patriot, be rejected, he would be satisfied in having done and not under those of the gentleman from Conhis duty, and the House, he supposed, would feel necticut. In the same spirit with which he chalequally satisfied in having discharged theirs. It lenged the confidence of the House, as a friend was asked, where was the mover of this resolu- unwilling to see them led into error and absurdity, tion at the time when the alleged misconduct took that gentleman had endeavored to alarm their place ? Did it not, said the gentleman, pass un- pride by representing the motion as a demand der their own eyes? Were not their delibera- made upon them. It was so. It was (if he might tions held on the very spot? and why had the so express it) a writ of right, not of favor-and as motion slept until this day? He hoped he should such he demanded it, as such he urged it. But an be permitted to say that it did not pass under his objection was taken that no act of misconduct eyes, although he knew, at the time of the con- had been alleged. With his friend from Marydemnation in question, he did not become ac- land he would say that, a fact of the first imporquainted with the circumstances under which it tance had been adduced, on which he was sorry took place until long after their occurrence. It his friend had not dwelled longer. It could not was true that the deliberations of Congress were receive too much attention. On a trial for life then held in Philadelpbia, the scene of this alleged and death, the jury, who were the Constitutional iniquity, but. with other members he was employ- judges both of the law and fact, were deprived ed in discharging his duties to his constituents of the right of a discussion of the point of law, not in witnessing, in any court, the triumph of what constitutes treason ?" The rights of the his principles. He could not have been so em-jury and of the accused were equally invaded. It ployed. It would be recollected, that the infor- was conduct not dissimilar to this, in a case of mation given by the gentleman from Pennsylva- libel, which drew forth from the English Parliapia formed the ground-work of his proceedings, meni the famous declaratory bill of Mr.Fox. Lord and he asked whether it was more the duty of the Mansfield had laid down the doctrine that the jury mover of the resolution to have brought it for- had a right to decide only upon the bare facis of ward than every other member of the House who printing and publishing, and not upon the queswas a witness of the statement made by that gen- tion of guilt, which was compounded of the law tleman? This information, of an official nature, and the fact. This produced the declaratory act, given by a member in his place, of a transaction which passed a strong censure on the practices of in open court, and which it was the duty of them courts—since it did not amend or alier the law, all to have noticed, had been called a story related but declared what the law was—and established on hearsay; a rumor of an affair which had hap the point resisted by the court, that the jury was pened in a corner; and the House was asked if the judge both of the fact and of the law. If, they would take such evidence as ground of pro- then, on a question of criminal law, where the ceeding, on the dictum of any one member, how- punishment was only fine and imprisonment, the ever great their confidence in him might be ? If conduct of a judge was deemed highly reprehensihe really felt that respect for the House which ble in encroaching upon the rights of the jury, what the gentleman from Connecticut had professed, shall we say of him who usurps those rights in a he would not have insulted their understandings case of life and death, in a case of treason? This by such language. He would not have stood up, denial to the prisoner and the jury of the right as amicus curæ, to prevent their being precipi- of having the point of law discussed, seemed to tated into absurdity and injustice by an influential be the first step towards assuming those powers member of their body. That, however, was the in cases of treason the exercise of which, in case station which the genileman had assumed, and he l of libel, had drawn down upon the English courts hoped the duties of it would be discharged with the censure of their Parliament. Would the the fidelity which they required. After clothing gentlemen say this was nothing? Would he af

JANUARY, 1804.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

H. of R.

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firm that if a man were under trial for murder, with the judgment of the House. The gentlethe court would be justified in saying to his coun- man was eager for inquiring, but the charge must sel, You may,

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you can, disprove the fact, with be incorporated into the resolution, and the inwhich the prisoner stands charged, but you shall quiry confined to a specific point, before he could not endeavor to show that it does not amount to be brought to consent to it. Whatever other misthe crime with which he stands charged? If you demeanors might come to the knowledge of the admit the killing you shall not argue the point that committee in the course. of the investigation, he such killing does not constitute murder. Would the would not agree to have them reported to the gentleman contend that treason is better defined House. And at the same time he told them of than murder ? . What is murder ? Killing with the struggle between his inclination and his sense malice aforethought; can any definition be clear- of duty-his inclination as a friend of the acer? What is burglary? Breaking in during the cused to grant the inquiry, his duty as a member night. What is treason? The Constitution de- of the House and a friend of justice to refute it. fines it as levying war against the United States; Mr. R. was sorry to find the gentleman in this adhering to their enemies; giving them aid and awkward predicament; he regretted that it was comfort. But what had definitions to do with the out of his power to gratify him by narrowing the case? Because murder was defined, had counsel inquiry. This, his duty would not suffer him to ever been stopped in an attempt to show that the do. He hoped, however, the strength of the genkilling with which their client stood charged was tleman's constitution would carry him through not a killing with prepensive malice, a killing the arduous struggle in which he was involved, which consiituted murder ? What was more by his wishes on the one hand, and his principles common than to see the facts admitted, and the on the other. crime not only denied, but disproved to the satis- Whilst so much was said on the subject of faction of the jury; and upon what principle shall precedent, he hoped he might offer a few cases to counsel be arrested in the attempt to show that the iheir consideration. He did not come to the House facts charged in an indictment for treason do not armed with precedents. Neither his health nor amount to such a levying of war, or an adherence leisure permiited him to search for them. Genor aid to such enemies as would constitute trea- tlemen of greater industry, and who attached more son? Mr. R. said that the fact mentioned by the importance to them than himself, had furnished gentleman from Pennsylvania was of a remark- him with them. For his part he thought preceable nature. He had never heard of a similar dents had nothing to do with the case, but for the proceeding, and he rejoiced that another instance sake of those who thought differently, he would of so black a nature could not probably be fur- show the course which he advocated was not desnished by any tribunal in this country.

titute even of their support. Here Mr. R. referThe gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Dennis) red to Mr. Hatsell's precedents. “On the 21st of however, had entirely abandoned the ground taken April, 1626, Mr. Glanvylee, from the select comby his friend. He agrees that there is a charge of mittee appointed to consider of the charges against an important nature exbibited, and if it was in the Duke of Buckingham, reports that, they decorporated into the resolution, and the inquiry sire the House will resolve whether common lame confined to that subject only, he would vote for is a ground for this House to proceed upon ?" It it. The object of the one gentleman was only is resolved to consider this the next day. After to confine the inquiry, whilst that of his friend a long debate the House resolve that," common was to deny it altogether. He could not thank fame is good ground of proceeding of this House, the gentleman for bis liberality. He would have either to inquire of here, or to transmit the comwhat he asked or nothing. He would never con- plaint, if the House find cause, to the King or sent to confine the inquiry; if it could not be lull Lords." and free, let it be denied.

Mr. R. begged to call the attention of the The gentleman from Maryland had, with very House to the opinion of a gentleman, delivered little dexterity, endeavored to confound the reso- during this debate, to which he must be permitted lution of inquiry with the articles of impeach- to attach more importance than to that of the genment which may follow from it, and said that if tleman from Connecticut. When he mentioned the House would consent to confine the inquiry the name of Selden, he believed he should stand to any particular charge he would vote for it. It justified in the opinion of the gentleman himself, was true that after articles of impeachment should and in that of his warmest admirers. “ These have been exhibited against the accused, the House cases (said Mr. Selden) are to be ruled by the would not be permitted to prefer any new accusa- law of Parliament and not by the common or tion, or to adduce testimony to prove any guilt civil law.” Mr. Liuletun says, " this is not a other than that which was charged in those arti- House for definitive judgment, bui for information, cles. In the same manner as when a criminal denunciation, or presentment, for which common was indicted, evidence would not be suffered to fame is sufficient." Mr. Noy says, " There are be brought forward to prove any act of criminality two questions—first, Whether a common fame? not contained in some one of the counts of the Second, Whether this fame be true? We will not indictmeut. But would gentlemen persist in con- transmit without the first inquiry: but without founding things so entirely different, as to confine the second we may; for peradventure we cannot an incipient inquiry by the same rigid rules which come by the witnesses; as if the witnesses be in would govern a criminal trial? It was trifling the Lords' House."

H. OF R.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

JANUARY, 1804.

Again,"pn the 16th October, 1667, the House not. He trusted that they would give an exambeing informed that there have been some inno- ple of their readiness to bring every offender to vations of late in the trials of men for their lives justice, however great might be his station. and deaths, and in some particular cases restraints Mr. Griffin. I had hoped that no subject have been put upon juries, the matter is referred would have been agitated during this session to a committee.” This case (Mr. R. said) was which should have interrupted the tranquillity or precisely in point. “On the 18th of November, disturbed the harmony of this House, so necessary this committee are empowered to receive infor- to the faithful and correct discharge of our public mation against the Lord Chief Justice Keeling, for duties; but, sir, I perceive, from the turn which any other misdemeanors besides those concerning the debate upon the resolution now before the juries.” Thus on a particular fact, innovation in House has taken, that sensations have been extrials for life and death, a committee was raised, cited which I fear it will be difficult to allay. and yet they were not confined to the examination The proposition now before the House, nursed of that single charge, but empowered to inquire with so much secrecy, and forced on us so sudgenerally into the misconduct of the judge. A denly and unexpectedly, comes in such a quesstronger or more pointed precedent could not be tionable shape, that I must beg the attention of conceived.

the House for a few moments while “I speak to it." By the Constitution, Mr. Randolph said, that What, sir, does the resolution demand of us? House was vested with the sole power of impeach- That a committee be appointed to inquire into ment. How this power was to be exercised must the official conduct of Samuel Chase and Richdepend on their discretion, and on no other law ard Peters, &c. But how is this inquiry to or principle whatever: for these cases are not to be conducted? Are there any data by which the be ruled by the common or civil law, but by the committee are to be guided?' Is there any specilaw of Parliament" That law of Parliament it fic charge to which their attention or inquiries remained with them to establish. It could not be are to be directed ? None. And who, sir, before matter of surprise that he, one of the leading prin- this enlightened day ever heard of a committee of ciples of whose politics it was to support the weight inquiry being raised, without possession of a sinof that branch of the Government, and to be jealous gle subject to direct or guide the inquiry? What, of Executive influence-it could not surprise any sir, erect an inquiring committee vested with all one, that he should exert himself in behalf of the the powers of a Star Chamber, and yet assign Constitutional rights of that House. When he them no specific objects of their duty! But, sir, saw the importance which was attached to pre- the official conduct of these judges has given cedent, he was more than ever solicitous for ihat offence—and are we now, sir, to probe and search which they were then about to establish. He the whole judicial lives of these gentlemen, for trusted that they would not consent to abridge the causes of complaint and censure? Are the repower with which the Constitution had invested cords of the States of Maryland and Pennsylvathem to reduce it below the standard which the nia now to be ransacked, for evidences of their English House of Commons had fixed as the guilt and cause of impeachment? I never have measure of their own power in similar cases. A and never shall deny the right of this House, time might come when a wicked President and to inquire into the conduct of public officers—but, his flagitious Ministers might so conduct them- sir, if the honorable mover of the resolution is selves in office, as to make every man regret the seriousproceedings of that day, in case they should suffer [Here Mr. RANDOLPH interrupted, and desired their power to sleep. The refusing to exercise it, the gentleman to explain his meaning by the then, would hereafier be adduced as a denial of its word serious.] existence. Such might be the circumstances of Mr. GRIFFIN continued. I will answer the the times, that no private man would dare to step gentleman: my meaning is, that if the gentleforward with a specific charge against the Exec- man believes there. are just grounds for impeachutive.

If they should deny an inquiry without a ment-if he is in possession of information or specific charge, they would do all in their power facts, let him declare them, and if they appear to to screen such a President and such Ministers at my mind to be sufficient whereon to ground an a future day. It had been remarked that, in this impeachment, let him demand it and I will join Government, an officer found guilty, on an im- with him. Let him specify the instances of malpeachment, could not be punished capitally. The leasance of which these judges have been guilly, sentence could only remove him from office, and and I will unite with him-let him declare the disqualify him, for ever after, from holding one malconduct of these public functionaries, and I under the United States. If, in a country where will cordially co-operate with him. If these judges the accused may be brought to the block, free, un- have travelled beyond the line of their duty, if fettered inquiry is warranted against any rank they have wantonly exceeded the limits of their however exalted-would it be denied here, where power, I will aid in the infliction of such punishthe punishment was comparatively light? Should ment as they may merit; but, sir, I cannot, I will they hold the other departments of the Govern. not, in this indirect manner, wound the feelings or ment more inviolable than they were considered censure the characters of men, holding high reeven in England? Would they afford 10 a crimi- sponsible offices under your Government. Could pal, Executive or Judiciary, a shelter denied by the l'induce myself to believe that the course now laws of that Government ?' He hoped they would proposed to be pursued is correct, I will gladly give

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