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maintain such a position. Here was a fraudulent at 1824, tempt to violate our laws, by transporting those per
The Meridos sons from the Island of Cuba, with a colourable destination, for another Spanish colony, but with the real intention of introducing them into the United States. In order to give the District Court of Alabama jurisdiction, it is immaterial where the offence was committed ; and it is equally immaterial where the seizure was made, provided it was not made in any other district of the United States. In any other case, jurisdiction is given to the Court within whose district the property is carried for adjudication. The trespass on the Spanish territory cannot be so connected with the subsequent seizure, under the process of the Court below, as to invalidate the seizure. If there was any offence against the sovereignty of Spain in the original seizure, that is a matter to be adjusted between the two governments.
Mr. Justice WASHINGTON delivered the opinion March 5th of the Court; and, after stating the case, proceeded to enumerate the objections made by the counsel
a. The Richmond, 9 Cranch, 102.
6 The counsel was proceeding to argue the question as to the rights of Colonel Brooke, as a non-commissioned captor, or neizor but was stopped by the Court, upon the suggestion, that the de crees of the Court below had reserved the question of distribution of the proceeds of the seizure, for its further directions, as in cases of prize and other Admiralty proceedings ; and that nothing was before this Court upon the presebt appeal, but the question of forfeiture.
1824. for the appellants, to the several decrees of the
Court below. Tho Merino,
1. That the regular Admiralty process was not issued in these cases.
2. That the informations do not conclude against the form of the statute.
3. That the Distriot Court of Alabama had not jurisdiction, the seizures having been made, not within the waters of that State, or on the high seas, but within the jurisdiction of a foreign nation.
4. That the acts of Congress, on which these informations are founded, were intended to apply exclusively to the suppression of the slave trade, from the coast of Africa, or elsewhere, for the purpose of holding or disposing of the subjects of the trade, as slaves, and not to the carrying of then, when in a state of slavery, from one foreign country to another.
1. That the proceedings in these cases were not conducted with the regularity usually observed io Admiralty. causes, must be admitted. But the Court is of opinion, that all objections of this nature were waived, by the appearance of the parties interested in the property seized, and filing their claims to the same. In each case, a warrant issued to the Marshal to seize the property libelled, and to cite and admonish all persons claiming an interest in the same; to appear before the Court, and to slow cause why the samo should not be condemned, as forfeited to the United States. This process was returned executed, and claims were interposed for the several vessels and their
cargoes, by the asserted owners thereof. Upon 1824. the strictest rules which govern in Courts of com
The Merino mon law, objections to the regularity of the process, to enforce an appearance, would be considered as removed by the appearance of the party, and pleading to the merits.
2. The second objection is without foundation, in fact, in relation to the information against the Constitution and her cargo; and we think it inadmissible in point of law, in the other two cases; the count relied upon in those informations stating expressly, that the seizure was made for a violation of the 4th section of the act of 1818, the title of which is accurately set forth. For all the purposes of justioe, and of notice to the claimant of the charge which he was called upon to answer, this must be deemed sufficient; and the addition of the technical words, contra formam statuti, is altogether formal and unnecessary. In the cases of the Samuel, (1 Wheat. Rep. 9.) and the Hoppet, (7 Cranch, 389.) it was observed by this. Court, that technical niceties of the common law, as to informations, which are unimportant in themselves, and stand only on precedents, are not regarded in Admiralty information; the material inquiry in the latter cases being, whether the offence is so set forth, as clearly to bring it within the statute upon which the information is founded.
3. The objection raised to the jurisdiction of the District Court of Alabama, is principally grounded upon the 9th section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20. which provides, “that the District Courts shall bave exclusive original cog
1824. nizance of all civil causes of Admiralty and mariTho Merino,
time jurisdiction, including all seizures under laws of impost, navigation or trade of the United States, where the seizures are made on waters which are navigable from the sea, by vessels of ten or more tons burthen, within their respective districts, as well as upon the high seas.' It is contended, that the seizures in these cases, were not made upon the high seas, or upon waters within the District of Alabama, and, therefore, the jurisdiction was not conferred on that Court. The section above recited, marks out, not only the general jurisdiction of the District Courts, but that of the several District Courts in relation to each other, in cases of seizures on waters of the United States, navigable from the sea, by vessels of a particular burthen. If made within the waters of one district, the jurisdiction attaches to the Court of that district, and the suit must be there prosecuted. The jurisdiction, in these cases, is given to the Court of the district, not where the offence was committed, but where the seizure is made. But where the seizure is made on the high seas, the jurisdiction is conferred upon no particular District Court, and it may, therefore, be exercised by the Court of any district into which the property is carried, and there proceeded against. In like manner, if the seizure be made within the waters of a foreign nation, as was done in these cases, cognizance of the cause is given, under the general expressions of the section, as to civil cases of Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, to the Court of the district into which the property
is conducted, and on which the prosecution is in- 1824. stituted. The illegality of the service in this lat
The Merino, ter ease, has nothing to do with the question of et al. jurisdiction, as was decided by this Court, in the case of the Richmond. :(9 Cranch, 102.)
4. The last objection involves the merits of these causes. In the case of the Constitution, the counsel for the appellees rely upon the first and fourth counts in the information; and, in the two other cases, on the second count. But, we think, that the first count, in the first of these cases, must be put out of view; because, although it chargés a violation of the act of 1794, it states the offence within the words of the act of the 10th of May, 1800, and yet it alleges it to have been committed contrary to the form of the act of 1794, the title of which is specially recited. This was, 'no doubt, a mistake of the proctor; but it partakes too much of substance to be the foundation of a sentence of condemnation, in a case so highly penal as this is. But, that count is not, in the opinion of the Court, material to the decision of that case, because, we are all of opinion, that the fourth count is fully supported by the evidence in the cause, and warrants the sentence of condemnation pronounced by the inferior Court. This count is strictly within the 4th section of the act of 1818; and bo is the second count in the informations against the Merino and Louisa, and their cargoes.
The argument relied upon by the counsel for the appellants, was, that the policy of our laws, from the year 1794, down to the latest act of legislation, has been confined to the suppression of