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my mind is not at this time fully made up. But that is not the question before us. We are now called upon to decide whether, after Judge Peck had declined to make such a request in the committee, and after the committee have reported the testimony, and their opinion upon it, to the House, it is proper to allow him at this stage of the proceeding to make his defence and examine his witnesses either before the same committee or before the House. Our own precedents, it is said, differ from each other; but this is not the case, so far as they relate to proceedings against judges. As to the case of the Vice President, he presented his own case before the House, and demanded an investigation. All cases are not necessarily subject to the same rule. One case may demand one course of proceeding, aud another case require a different mode. The remark which excited the ire of the gentleman from Missouri, was merely a response to an opinion expressed by the Judge in his memorial. I said that he had made his case rather worse than better, by his cross-examination. I am still of that opinion. I believe the best course of proceeding in such cases, is that which the House have hitherto adopted. Give a committee charge of the complaint, and they will seek for disinterested witnesses from all sources within their power; they will inquire who is least excited ? Who will be likely to give the most correct statement of facts? If they shall do this, and honestly aim at attaining the ends of public justice, without violating the rights of the accused, we shall have taken the most correct course. I am in favor of referring this whole case to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union. If that course shall be adopted, I shall not call up the report this day; but will endeavor to examine the precedents as well in England as in this country, and lay the result before the House. As to the course pursued by the House of Representa. tives of Pennsylvania, in similar cases, which has been referred to by my colleague, [Mr. SUTHERLANP) of hearing the defence of the accused, and examining his witnesses, before voting an impeachment, it has never met my aprobation. I think I have observed great inconvenience, if not great injustice, from that mode of proceeding. It must necessarily prejudice the cause. The accused, instead of going before the Senate without prejudice, shielded by the presumption, both of law and justice, that he is innocent until he shall be proved to be guilty, will be arraigned at their bar, after having been convicted, upon a full trial, by the deliberate judgment of the House. I repeat the opinion, that the best mode of attaining justice, is to entrust such complaints to a standing committee, selected from all portions of the Union; and which, from its very constitution, must almost necessarily be impartial. The members of such a committee, . under the responsibility which they owe to the House and to the country, and clothed with the power of sending for persons and papers, will ever be careful to draw their testimony from pure fountains. After having collected from impartial sources sufficient testimony to satisfy their consciences that the accused ought to be impeached, they will then report this testimony, with their opinion, to the House, as has been done upon the present occasion, and leave each member to judge of its effect for themselves. In this manner the rights of the accused will be best protected, and the interests of justice best subserved. If Judge Peck had insinuated, when before the committee, that the parol testimony had presented an incorrect statement of the transaction, and had asked that other witnesses might be examined, I should have felt much inclined, I confess, to grant the request. But no such reuest was made or intimated. e might have called on §. geutleman from Missouri [Mr. PErris] to testify, and I am sorry Judge Peck did not make the suggestion. But
I protest against reflecting upon the committee, as though they had not been disposed to elicit the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In conclusion, I say, let a suitable precedent now be established for future times. Let it be solemnly determined whether a judge, when accused, shall be at liberty to demand that his whole cause shall be tried before the House of Representatives before an impeachment is resolved upon. P. deciding this question, I trust the House will come to such a conclusion as will best secure the rights of the people and the accused, both now and hereafter. Mr. ELLSWORTH observed that the amendment of the gentleman from South Carolina brought the House to what he considered the real question, and it was one which involved a point of great interest, but not of much difficulty, though gentlemen seemed not fully to agree. Whether we are to follow precedents already established in the cases of Judges Chase and Pickering, or of William Blount, Senator, or are to mark a new course to be followed hereafter, it is important that we act with caution, doing justice to the accuser and accused, as well as to the public. If the House adopted the amendment, it would be only on the idea that the Judge was to be impeached or not, according to the judgment of the House on the facts already in evidence. On those facts he should be glad to hear the commentary of the accused, who ought certainly to have an opportunity of saying in his own behalf whatever he had to say. But, if a contrary course should be adopted, and the flu. should reject the amendment, he must conclude the House intended, upon this inquiry, that the accused should have liberty to introduce such evidence as he pleased, and thus to put the matter into the hands of the accused. Mr. E. said he could not consent to such a course. This House has no constitutional power to try the accused. We are to inquire after the oppression complained of and to inquire until we are satis. fied that an impeachment is necessary, but we can go no further; we cannot try the case. Is the accused to bring before us such witnesses as he pleases, to take the defence into his own hands, employ counsel, and try the charges fully and perfectly? This is not our business. We have no charges framed, nor can we have, until we decide to o forward. From what has been said on this debate, fi Mr. E.] he was convinced some gentlemen misapprehended the nature of the duties of the committee on which he served. This House was the grand inquest of the nation. A judge of the United States' court was here complained of by a private citizen, for an alleged trespass upon his rights. The complaint had been presented to this House, who had referred the case to one of its own committees. The committee, in the discharge of their duty, had sent for all such witnesses as might enable them best to elicit the truth of the case; but he could assure the House that the selection had not been made ex parte. The committee had endeavored to obtain all such testimony as would enable them to present the case fairly to the House. The question now was, whether they should say to the accused, we will hear you on the testimony already obtained, or whether they would go further, and suffer the accused to introduce new testimony. Of the preliminary facts, he could say that they were not of an ez parte nature. No doubt it was the duty of the House to get all the information they might deem necessary to arrive at the truth; but he denied the policy or the propriety of admitting an accused party to go before a committee into a thorough trial of his whole cause, with counsel to aid him, and then to call upon this House to say whether he was guilty or not. The committee had sent to Missouri for A and B, for C and D, including persons both for and against the accused., They might have procured other testimony, but they obtained
all that they thought necessary. It was now for the House to say whether the accused should have another hearing. English precedents in Parliament have been searched, and with the exception of Warren Hastings, who was impeached by Edmund Burke, rising in his place, the accused has never introduced evidence on the preliminary inquiry. . If the amendment was adopted, he should understand the House as coming to the conclusion, that, as a grand jury, they were to get all the facts necessary to show whether there was or was not ground of impeachment. But they were not to bear Judge Peck, as if he were on his trial before them; the House was not the body appointed to try him; and he hoped they would proceed on the ground that the accused was to confine his argument to such facts alone as this House might choose to investigate, and not to take the House into his own hands, as though he were to have a full trial on this floor. Mr. HUNTINGTON addressed the Chair, in substance as follows: I have read the evidence on which the resolution now under consideration is founded, with attention, not only because I am called to give my vote on that resolution, but because the subject of it is of deep interest to the parties immediately interested in it, and to the nation. If the Judge, whose official conduct is condemned, has so conducted 9s to require the constitutional interposition of this House, in the form of impeachment, we ought not to shrink from the duty imposed upon us, from a regard to his reputation, his future standing, or the severity of the punishment which will follow conviction. It is due, in such case, to the indignity offered to the country, to the disgrace brought upon the judicial office, to the honor and safety of the bar, that this House should seek to remove from a high and important station a judge who fills it so unworthily. But if he has committed no offence worthy such stripes—none embraced in the constitution from which we derive our authority to act—then it is due to him to give him our protection, to sustain his reputation, and to declare him innocent of that offence which would endanger the loss both of office and character. Notwithstanding the respectable source from which this resolution has emanated, and with no feelings but those which proceed from an anxious desire to judge righteously, (for all the parties more immediately interested are strangers to me,) I cannot concur in the result to which the Committee on the Judiciary have come, on this interesting subject: and I hope that, in submitting the reasons on which my opinion is founded, I shall not be justly obnoxious to the imputation of favoring judicial tyranny, the worst of all tyranny, because so difficult to detect, and so oppressive in its consequences. I am a member of the same profession with the individual who is said to have been oppressed, and I can surely wish no rule should be applied to my brethren in Missouri, which I should repudiate when sought to be applied to myself. he resolution submitted to us is, that James H. Peck be impeached of high misdemeanors in office. It is somewhat difficult, if not impossible, to give a definition of the term misdemeanor, as used in the constitution, which will include every case embraced by that word. It does not mean, merely, an indictable offence at common law; for if a judge should come on to the bench in a state of intoxication, or, while there, should employ himself in playing games of chance, he ought, in either case, to be impeached. Nor does the term include incompetency to discharge the duties of the office, arising from physical or mental inability. The judge holds his office “during good behavior;” but that phrase is the opposite of the causes for which he may be impeached—"high crimes and misdemeanors." What constitutes a judicial misdemeanor, subjecting to impeachment, must depend upon the circumstances of each case as they exist. As applied to this case, I think it susceptible of a precise definition.
It is an assumption of judicial power, exercised to the injury of an individual, and done malo animo. To sustain this resolution, the committee must be satis. fied that Judge Peck had no power to imprison, and erase from the roll of attorneys the name of Mr. Lawless, for the causes which led him to do it; that the exercise of this power operated to the injury of Mr. Lawless; and that it was done with a corrupt motive. If either of these points is with the Judge, the resolution ought not to pass. If they are all against him, it ought to be adopted. I shall spend no time on the inquiry, whether Mr. Law. less sustained an injury by reason of the proceedings insti. tuted against him, for it is obvious that a suspension from practice for eighteen months, and the deprivation of his personal liberty for four hours, were both injurious to him. The right, on the part of the Judge, to do these acts, and the motives with which they were done, are the only to: pics to which I shall ask the attention of the committee. As to the right. Was the conduct of Mr. Lawless such as to justify the court in treating it as a contempt, punish. able by imprisonment and suspension from practice? It may be assumed as a correct, legal proposition, that any
[APRIL 7, 1830.
publication, the object and design of which is to corrupt .
the fountains of justice, by its tendency improperly to affect
the due administration of it in causes which are depending
in the courts of law or equity, is a contempt, authorizing a summary proceeding by process of attachment, punishable by fine and imprisonment, and, in case of an attorney, by suspension from practice. And it is immaterial whether the effect is attempted to be produced by the operation of the publication on the judge, the jurors, the witnesses, or the public. It is equally immaterial what the text is, which is made the basis of the publication; it may be the opinion of a judge in a cause previously decided, or it may be anything else; nor is it necessary that the design of the writer should have been accomplished. The essence of the offence consists in the intent with which the publication is made, and its tendency improperly to affect the decision of causes undetermined. Such is the law of contempts, as it relates to the proceedings which have led to the resolution before us: and its application to these proceedings is now to be considered. Before, however, this is done, I deem it necessary to
notice some remarks which have fallen from my friends .
from Pennsylvania and New York, [Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Stoaks] which, in my judgment, have no connexion with the merits of the question under consideration, and are calculated to produce impressions not justified by the acts of the Judge which are complained of I will not stop to examine whether these gentlemen, in the style and manner of debate in which they indulged, exhibited more feeling than P. belonged to the station which they occupy; for I am j. sure that neither of them was actuated by any other consideration than that high sense of duty which we all ought to feel; but I must say, topies have been introduced, which deserve, I will not say reprehensions, but a reply. My friend from New York told the committee, yesterday, that Judge Peck, in his written apology, had stated that, if he had erred in this matter, it was an error on the side of Government, and calculated to protect its interests. [Here Mr. STORRS explained. The gentleman had mis:
apprehended him. The Judge, in the paper which he had
furnished, did show that he had erre Government, and enumerated a number of cases where his decisions had the effect of saving the public land.] Exactly as I understood him, i.; expressed in the same terms. calculated to impress the committee with the idea that the Judge wished us to recollect that if he had proceeded in
on the side of the
Mr. H.] though not Sir, the observation was
an unlawful manner, he ought to be shielded, because he had done so in order to favor the Government. Sir, no such conclusion will follow an examination of that paper.
All that the Judge says is this: that, as very numerous claims were pending, which embraced the same principles as the case of Soulard, he felt it to be his duty to give that case a most thorough and close examination; and I say, that whoever reads that opinion, cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that it is both an elaborate produc. tion, and one written in good faith. But we are told that the opinion of the Judge, except in one particular, was extrajudicial. If this was intended to afford an excuse for the criticism of Mr. Lawless, I differ most materially from the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. BuchanaN] and my friend from Virginia, [Mr. DodDRIDGE.] Neither do I agree with them in relation to these obiter dicta. My poor reading has led me to conclude that it is not best to travel out of the record, and to express a legal opinion in a case not before the court. But may I not ask whether, in this opinion delivered by Judge Peck in the case of Soulard, any man can see aught that looks like an extrajudicial opinion. He first settled the case, and he needed not to have gone any further; but he then proceeds as if he oeuld say, if I have been wrong thus far there is another *. which makes equally against the claimants. That is all he has done. He gives different reasons for coming to the same result. They are reasons called for by the case, and such as it was not only proper, but his duty, to consider and discuss. The gentleman from Pennsylvania seems to lay stress on the fact that the Judge printed his opinion in a newspaper. If that remark was intended to have any effect, it must be this, that such a proceeding was derogatory to his judicial station. The gentleman says that when the Judge had given his opinion, there he ought to have stopped; but I ask, was there an thing improper in publishing his opinion ? It is a proceeding, which, if not frequent, yet sometimes occurs. When the bar requested this publication, ought the Judge to have told them that a compliance would be derogatory to the profession But the gentleman adds that the Judge published this opinion in a political newspaper. Now, sir, I should be glad to know where he could have found any paper o was not political. If it was lawful for him to publish at all, I do not know where he must have gone to do it. [Here Mr. BUCHANAN explained. . As reference had several times been made to what he had said on that subject, he wished to remind the committee that he had said at the time that he knew the character of the paper only from the Judge himself; it had been designated by him as a “political newspaper."] But the honorable gentleman, I will not say in the coloring he gave to the testimony, but in his comments and argument, inquired why Judge Peck solicited the name of the publisher. Did not the Judge know who he was Was not his name on the paper? Now, sir, if this was meant for any thing, it was to strengthen the idea that the Judge had selected his victim. But surely the gentleman knows that no attachment could issue to bring the party before the court, without an affidavit to found it upon. And though the Judge might see on the face of the paper that A B was the publisher, he could not issue a rule on such evidence—it must be of record. There was, then, nothing improper in taking steps to procure an affidavit. ut the gentleman asks, why call particularly on Lawless, when all the bar and many other persons were present? Why, sir, Lawless was not specially called. The Judge inquired if any one present knew who was the publisher of that paper, and Mr. Lawless volunteered an an: swer to the question. Without that answer he could not have proceeded an inch. After Mr. Lawless (and the fact is creditable to him certainly) had verified the fact, then the attachment issued. But I have more to do with the matter than the manner of the Judge. And I proceed to inquire. Did Judge Peck assume an authority which he
did not rightfully possess?
The committee has been told, over and over, in a style the most warm and animated, that his conduct was arbitrary, oppressive, uneonstitutional—calculated to destroy the liberty of the press, and that this gross assumption of power was called forth by the exercise, on the part of Lawless, of his undeniable and unalienable right as a free citizen of this republic. Sir, let us descend a little from this lofty pinnacle, and let us calmly and coolly ask what did Mr. Lawless do? And was his act a contempt of court He published an article signed “A Citizen” in one of the papers of St. Louis, and which has been called “a respectful commentary” on the Judge's opinion. Now, sir, there is no member of this House, whose voice would be sooner or louder raised against any attempt to suppress the legitimate freedom of the press. I hope I shall not be charged with any desire to violate it. And I hope that our courts of justice will never be held to be so sacred, that their adjudications may not be the subject of fair and temperate animadversion. No man is above, or ought to be above it. The moment you curtail the freedom of the press, you destroy liberty. But, sir, while I guard the freedom, I am as greatly opposed to the licentiousness of the press; I will take care that the object of such animadversions shall not be to bring down upon a court the vengeance of the public, and thus affect the great and vital interests of justice, and the peace and well being of society. The case has been treated as if this article, signed “A Citizen,” was no more than a fair and honest commentary on the opinion published by the Judge. Sir, was this so? Were there not causes pending, of a similar kind with that which had been decided ? It is admitted—it appears in evidence, there were other causes depending on Spanish concessions to be adjudged in that court. Look then at this publication, and see what its object was. What was its motive And what was likely to be its effect on the causes pending Sir, what does Mr. Lawless tell us? (No doubt he has a right to come here and spread his wrongs before this House, if he has suffered any—but he is the accuser—the witness in his own cause.) And what other wituesses have we? His two counsel. I do not deny that these gentlemen are competent witnesses—but what does every man of common sense know? That a party in interest or bis counsel are to be heard with allowance for their natural bias. One of my friends has related to me a fact on this subject. A judge was some time since trying a cause, when some point occurred of evident truth, but to which there was no witness. One of the counsel in the cause offered himself as a witness to prove the fact; but the judge suggested to him that it would be better to let the cause go off, until a witness could be obtained; because it did not seem becoming in counsel, when a cause pinched, to offer himself to be sworn. The lawyer, however, insisted. When the judge said to him, “you are a competent witness, and I may not refuse to have you sworn, but, if you do testify, I shall instruct the jury not to believe one word you say.” The judge may possibly have stretched the rule, but the counsel will never forget it. And in this case I do not say the witnesses are not competent, but I say they are parties in interest: and yet such are the principal witnesses in the case. Now, I ask, what could have been the motive of Mr. Lawless in writiug that article : It is said that it was to put his clients upon their guard, and to prevent them from becoming the prey of speculators. Sir, this article itself develops his secret motive—it seems to me that I can read his heart as plainly in that transaction, as if it was laid open before my eyes. Is it not demonstrable that his motive could not have been that which is assigned by his advocates here? If it had been, what could have been easier than to have inserted an article in the paper, stating that the decision in the case of Soulard was not final; that an appeal had been taken to the Supreme Court of the United States; and that the cause was to be considered
as still pending, and recommending to his clients to wait the issue before they took any steps in relation to their claims. But, no: he did not take this course, but inserted an article virtually holding out to his clients this language: Do not be affected by this opinion of Judge Peck—it is quite erroneous. And did he not know that it was to be this very Judge Peck who was to sit upon their causes to try them : And would his clients be deterred from selling their land by this? Was it not the very strongest reason why they should sell? No, sir. It is impossible his motives ja have been such as gentlemen suppose. Charity believeth all things, and covereth a multitude of sins; but charity herself can have no room here. If this was not his object, what was it? It was the object of that article to affect the adjudications in the other cases, either in producing in the Judge an alarm, which might check his progress, or, if he was not to be intimidated, then by
re-occupying the minds of those who were to become jurors and witnesses. This was the obvious tendency of the publication. It was a direct appeal from the court to the public, stating that the Judge had been guilty of errors, both in law and in fact. Every citizen who read the article and believed it, would say, this judge is not competent to his duty, and he should not be here. He has been guilty of eighteen assumptions in one opinion, all of which are erroneous. Sir, this was the only effect the article could have, and it is fair to infer that this was the end for which it was written. Now, if it was, then the act falls within the principle which governed the laws of contempts. It was . to operate on cases still subjudice; whether the author effected his purpose or not, is immaterial. The design of his publication was a contempt. I have adverted to this, not so much for the sake of stating my own opinion in relation to it, as with a view to correct the erroneous view which I think has been given by every gentleman who has spoken in favor of the impeachment. I appeal to all who hear me to say whether the resolution has not been advocated in fact upon the sole ground that the object of the publication of Mr. Lawless was fair and honest and commendable, and not designed to have any effect upon the causes pending. Now, can a design be called honest and fair, which goes to .. the fountains of justice, no matter how this is effected, whether through the judge himself, or through the jurors and witnesses? To test the truth of this idea, let us suppose that, instead of the article signed “A Citizen,” Mr. Lawless had written one in this form: “To all persons who may appear as jurors or witnesses at the next term of the district court for the district of Missouri, before the Hon. James H. Peck, Judge of the same: take notice, that, at the trial of Soulard's heirs, the said Judge assumed eighteen points of fact and of law, all of which were false.” I ask, would any man have doubted whether this was designed and calculated to im
ress the public mind in a manner unfavorable to the court: §. there is not a man who could read this notice, and compare it with the opinion of Judge Peck, that must not suppose, if he believed it true, that the Judge was either a very wicked man, or else a natural fool—that he was too ignorant or too corrupt, to hold his station. I now leave this part of the subject, and, after a word or two more, I shall have done. If it will not be thought by my friends from Pennsylvania and Virginia to be extrajudicial, I will go one step further. If I have been correct so far, nothing more need be said; but suppose I have been mistaken, there remains another view to which I must advert, at the hazard of being charged with an obiter dietum ; and I ask whether, in the conduct of Judge Peck, there is reason to infer the absence of malice, whether we are obliged to suppose that he had any other motive than to uphold the honor and purity of the court. Sir, it is one of the most difficult things in the world to judge of men's intentions; and I could not but feel some surprise at a remark of my friend from New York, [Mr. Stonas] who observed, if I
understood him, that we need not look with eagle eyes into the motives of the accused, seeing that we were only taking the preliminary steps towards a prosecution. Now, sir, my limited practice had led me to believe that in all proceedings ex parte there was a peculiar necessity that the evidence should be full and satisfactory. And is it so that we must not look into the motives of the accused ? If not, then there is an end to all fairness. And what is the conclusion ? The accused must look out for himself. But surely the presumption of malice may be rebutted by circumstances; and I cannot conceive how the gentleman could have supposed that there was any other motive in this publication than a design to bring the court into contempt. [Mr. STORRS here explained. What he had said was that the committee were not bound to look with eagle eyes for palliations of the offence, substantiated by testimony.] Just as I understood him, [said Mr. H.] and I enter my entire dissent from the doctrine. I am a perfect non-believer in it. The question we have to settle is, whether the circumstances are such as to infer an honest or a malicious intent. If Judge Peck viewed to anonymous article as more calculated to impress the polic mind than if a direct charge had been advanced of ignorance or corruption, then l do not wonder that he came to the conclusion that the intent of the writer was to embarrass the causes which might come into his court. I have looked at the criticism of the Judge's opinion, and I say that every charge has been highly colored, and that in others there has been a complete distortion of the Judge's meaning. I ask every gentleman calmly to compare the article signed “A Citizen" with the opinion of Judge Peck, and to say whether it is not a perfect caricature of that opinion. And if the Judge entertained this opinion, then you find a motive at once for his conduct. The article held him up to an abused public as incompetent to the duties of his station; and if it did so, then I say that the Judge acted from a motive which is fair, and becoming in every man who means to protect himself; and I say further, that a judge, believing that one of the counsel in his court had been guilty of such an attempt to corrupt the fountains of justice, and did not lay a heavy hand upon him, is not fit for his station; and as long as I shall continue a lawyer at the bar, I am perfectly willing to subject myself to the same rule. I do not wonder that the Judge's commentary on this production occupied three hours. The subject had been laboriously examined by him, and had been fully set forth in his opinion; and I do not wonder that a circumstantial examination of it, and refutation of the falsehoods in the article, should have taken him a considerable time. But, sir, we find a motive independent of this. In what circumstances was the Judge placed when he made this examination? He was surrounded by a number of gentlemen, members of a profession honorable in itself, and as useful as it is respectable. Among them all he found no voice in favor of the Government; but every member of the St. Louis bar, excepting, perhaps, the attorney of the United States, was retained, either as attorney or counsel, for some of these claims. It is said that Mr. Lawless was personally interested in the case of Soulard; whether he and the other gentlemen were to share profits with the claimants, is not for me to say; but, in the State from which I come, a lawyer who would lend his professional services in a speculation of that kind would, if detected, be stricken from the rolls with disgrace. What morality may prevail to the westward on this subject, I know not; perhaps the practice there may be considered very honorable. All I shall say is, that I am very glad such notions have no place in my State. A judge thus surrounded had been publicly charged with not knowing the fact, or the law on which he was called to decide. Now, sir, I confess I do not know any .."; more calculated to touch his reputation or wound his feelings. Perhaps a charge of corruption might have
been a little worse, but I believe that most men would
nearly as lief be charged with one as with the other. The Judge did show a little feeling on the occasion—I think I should have shown much more. He sat patiently, and heard the charge fully argued. The accuser himself says that he was permitted to discuss it so long as he wished, and during this time there was nothing in the Judge's demeanor different from what it was at other times. Now I ask what motive could the Judge have had to oppress this man Was it his interest to do so? Evidently not. Was it any malicious resentment? Why, sir, Mr. Lawless himself says that he and the Judge had always been on good terms. I therefore conclude that he acted on this occasion in good faith, though it is possible that he mistook his powers. But it seems to me that the very circumstance most insisted on as evidence of evil intent in the Judge, is regnant with evidence in his favor. It is said that he exibited passion in his manner, and that his language was violent. Well, sir, I admit that he was somewhat indiscreet; but I am yet to learn that warmth of manner is evidence of corruption. Is the manner of a person who designs to perpetrate oppression under the mask of judicial power usually warm and passionate No, sir! he comes coolly to his task of hypocrisy; he expresses great regret at the task imposed on him. He begins by degrees, looks earnest upon the assembly and compassionately upon the culprit, speaks of the enormity of his offence, regrets extremely that he should have been guilty of it, asks him if he is ready to apologize, and then proceeds to the blow for which all this preparation was made, and strikes his victim from the roll. Is that the deportment of the Judge 3 We find him warm and animated, over-excited, perhaps rash in his language; but does not this betray an honest conviction that he would be faithless to his duty if he did not punish a flagrant outrage on the administration of justice? When attempting to ascertain the motive of the Judge, ought we not to remember that he offered the of fender the opportunity of purging himself by oath, which was refused; and my friend from New York thought it astouishing that any one should consider this refusal as an aggravation of the contempt. . THere Mr. SPENCER explained. He said that when in: terrogatories were offered they were never limited, and the accused could not know what would be the nature of them.] Sir, this circumstance furnishes my mind with a presumption in favor of the Judge. The interrogatorio ne: cessary for the accused to purge himself from intentional contempt, were few and simple. The question was put to the printer, whether Lawless said that he did not intend anything like contempt towards the court, but afterwards we hear nothing more of this. If the object of the Judge had been the gratification of revenge, we should have heard of no interrogatories... I will not say that the Judge was authorized in doing all that he did, but I insist that the offer of interrogatories was no addition to his guilt. I feel very thankful for the attention with which the eommittee have indulged me. I felt that the case was a very important one; and as very distinguished friends held an opinion with respect to it the reverse of my own, I considered it to be my duty briefly to state the reasons for my own opinion, and for the vote which I shall give inst the impeachment. Mr. BATES, of Massachusetts, observed that this was a high criminal proceeding against a high officer of Government. The accused ought to be treated with the utmost liberality. He need not speak of the effects of the present proceeding, either on the character of the accusad party or upon the Government. Merely to allude to the expense and trouble incident to a trial at the bar of the senate, and the necessary and consequent delay of busi: ness, would be sufficient to induce a proper degree of caution on the part of this House, in instituting this constitutional process. Wol. WI-95.
An application was now made by the friend of the accused, that he might be permitted to make a communication to the House, orally or otherwise, as he might choose, in relation to the law and the facts of his case. He hoped the privilege would be accorded. He was not for fettering the Judge, and restricting and embarrassing him too much regulation; or by the commitment of his friends in this House to this or that course. Let him be heard in the way he might himself prefer. Mr. B., denied that the House was to proceed in the character of a grand jury. He had much doubt on the propriety of receiving only er parte evidence, in many cases, even before an ordinary grand jury; but the reasons for it there would not apply to this House. If the accused was desirous of being heard either on the law or on the facts, Mr. B. was for hearing him. He thought it due to him. He hoped the resolution would be adopted, in the confidence that Judge Peck knew what belonged to this House, and what became him as a judge and a gentleman. [Mr. BURGES followed Mr. BATES, of Massachusetts, whose speech concluded the debate for this day.] On motion of Mr. HEMPHILL, the House went into Committee of the Whole, Mr. HAYNEs in the chair, on THE BUFFALO AND NEW ORLEANS ROAD BILL. Mr. MERCER rose and entered at large in defence of the policy and expediency of the measure, and in reply to
the gentleinen who had opposed it. He spoke about two hours, when he gave way for the purpose, and the com
THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 1830. CRIMES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
The House then, on motion of Mr. POWERS, went into Committee of the Whole, Mr. BuchanaN in the chair, and took up the bill for the punishment of crimes in the District of Columbia. A good deal of discussion took place on the details of this bill, and on motions to modify them, in which Messrs. POWERS, WICKLIFFE, SEMMES, SPENCER, of New York, STORRS, of New York, BURGES, WHIT. TLESEY, BOULDIN, P. P. BARBOUR, WASHINGTON, DRAYTON, DODDRIDGE, TAYLOR, and WERPLANCK bore a part. The question which gave rise to most of the debate was on a motion of Mr. WICKLIFFE to insert the word “free” in the second section, so as to limit the penitentiary punishment for certain offences to free persons, and leave slaves to be punished according to the laws of Maryland and Virginia, now in force in the respective divisions of the District. This question was ultimately decided in the affirmative: yeas, 58—nays, 54. Mr. POWERS, chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia, gave a general explanation of the views of the committee in reporting the bill, and showed the necessity of its immediate passage. He observed that the bill, in its essential features, was similar to one which had been prepared and reported several years since; that it was more simple, and the definition of offences had been chiefly left as they were at common law. The draught of the bill had been submitted to, and approved by, several distinguished members of the bar in this District, who best understood the defects in the existing laws. The proposed code was mild in its character, and conformable to the improved and enlightened state of public opinion on the subject of criminal punishments. After further general remarks, Mr. P. adverted particularly to the offences of gaming and duelling, punishments for which were provided in the bill; and dwelt somewhat at length on the enormous evils of gaming, as practised in this district, and which the corporate authorities had found themselves, after their best efforts, unable to supprese