« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
THE decisions of the courts of the United States in the Judicial Circuit now designated as the Fourth, so far as yet published, are embraced in the two volumes of Burr's Trial, by David Robertson ; the two volumes of Marshall's Decisions, published by John W. Brockenbrough ; the volume of Taney's Circuit Court Decisions, published by J. M. Campbell ; and the recent volume of Chief Justice Chase's Decisions, published by Bradley T. Johnson. In an appendix to Sixth Call's Virginia Reports are six decisions, three of which are not elsewhere to be found; one of them by Chief Justice Jay, and the other two respectively by Associate Justices Iredell and Washington. These three cases, in order that they may be found in some volume of United States Reports proper, are incorporated into the present volumes. I have also incorporated a decision of Chief Justice Ellsworth never before published in permanent form, and two other cases, from François Xavier Martin's Notes of North Carolina Decisions, published in 1797. This author was afterwards Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.
The present volumes contain all the decisions up to this time made by Chief Justice Waite which he has reduced to writing; and all decisions of Circuit Judge Bond preserved in manuscript form, which I have been able after careful endeavor to obtain. To them I have added a number of decisions in Circuit Court made by the several District Judges sitting there.
I probably owe an apology to the profession for including in the present volumes so many decisions in bankruptcy and admiralty of the District Courts, and especially so many which have been made by myself. But, in truth, the necessity which was felt to exist of publishing these District Court decisions, suggested the publication of those also which I could collect of the Circuit Courts.
The admiralty jurisdiction of the ports and waters of Chesapeake Bay, and of the ports of the Carolinas, has been fruitful of many important cases, reports of which cannot fail to be interesting to admiralty lawyers generally, while they are almost indispensable to those who practice in the Admiralty Courts of the Fourth Circuit. Many cases are decided in the Admiralty Courts proper, which do not reach appellate courts. These decisions are upon points most frequently arising in practice, and the rulings in them are really of more practical value to the admiralty lawyer than those often are in the exceptional cases which go up by appeal for final determination,
These remarks apply with greater force to the decisions of the Courts of Bankruptcy contained in these volumes. In the single district of Eastern Virginia, there have been filed 6455 cases in bankruptcy, and 161 suits connected with bankruptcy; 6616 in all. When the writer came to the bench, in January, 1874, under rulings of Circuit and Supreme Courts then recently and soon afterwards made, a large proportion of these cases were brought before him by petition praying the setting aside or modification or review of former orders and decrees made in them. Naturally, the action of the court upon these petitions suggested or required written explanations of the principles on which the court acted. These written decisions had often to be referred to in subsequent cases, and a desire for the publication of them in compendious and convenient form accessible to the bar has become general. These are the considerations which have induced the writer to insert many of the more important of his own decisions in bankruptcy in the second volume, and to collect from other districts of the circuit like decisions of his brethren of the bench. This he has done with diligence, and he regrets that he has been able to collect comparatively but few of these last.
Although the decisions in these volumes are not published under distinct classifications, yet the reader will find that they are in fact grouped in the following order, viz. : cases in equity, cases at law, indictments, ex parte proceedings under extraordinary writs,—these in the first volume; and, in the second, admiralty cases and bankruptcy cases. Near the end of each volume will be found a few cases dislocated from these groups.
But for the feeling that Reports professing to cover the period of the political offences against the Civil Rights and Enforcement Acts which have been tried in this circuit, would be deficient, if not embracing at least as many of the cases as exhibit the principles of law on which they turned, I should have gladly omitted the whole subject from these volumes. I reflect, however, that these are books for lawyers and not for politicians or the populace; that the whole class of civil disorders out of which the trials grew have ceased, I hope and believe, forever; and that even if there be in the evidence as reported anything which, in worse times than the peaceful era which we now have entered and confidently anticipate, would tend to produce or keep alive excited feeling, no such effect is or will be possible.
I am sure that no public evil can come from publishing the three or four trials of the class alluded to which are given in these volumes; and I should regret to find that in the manner in which the evidence has been reported any individual or class has been wronged either by omission or exaggeration.
R. W. H.