Page images

citizens, a list of whom should be drawn up every year by the prefects, in the same manner that lists of jurors are made out. It would, no doubt, be better that good should be done by order of the constituted authorities, than not done at all ; but still it is charity that is here in question, and it is difficult to conceive of forced charity.

7.—Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Circuit Court of the United States for the First Circuit. By Charles SUMNER, Reporter of the Court. Wol. III. Boston: Charles C. Little & James Brown. 1841.

In the last December number of the London Quarterly Review, we find the following paragraph, relating to the distinguished jurist whose decisions are contained in this volume, and also to our late associate by whom they are reported. It is taken from an article on “American Orators and Statesmen.”

“Mr. Justice Story's charges to juries are also much admired; and his judgments are admirable specimens of judicial statement and reasoning. The most important are reported by Mr. Charles Sumner, barrister, who recently paid a visit of some duration to this country, and presents in his own person a decisive proof, that an American gentleman, without official rank or widespread reputation, by mere dint of courtesy, candor, an entire absence of pretension, an appreciating spirit, and a cultivated mind, may be received on a footing of perfect equality in the best English circles, social, political, and intellectual; which, be it observed, are hopelessly inaccessible to the itinerant note-taker, who never gets beyond the outskirts or the showhouses.”

8.—Reports of Cases determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of the State of Maine. By John SHEPLEy, Counsellor at Law. Vol. IV. Maine Reports. Vol. XVI. Hallowell: Glazier, Masters & Smith. 1841.

On the publication of the first volume of Mr. Fairfield's Reports, we took occasion to make the following remarks in reference to the removal of Mr. Greenleaf, and the appointment of the former gentleman, as reporter:

“Why Mr. Greenleaf was driven from the office which he had so long and so usefully filled, we have never fully ascertained. Intimations we have met, that party spirit intruded its Gorgon head into the councils of the state he had so much benefited and honored, by the laborious discharge of the duties of an unambitious office, and applied to him its baneful ostracism. Some there were, we have reason to suppose, who, from a certain restlessness of disposition, desired a change, merely for the sake of change. Others, perhaps, differed from Mr. Greenleaf on political grounds: and here we ask expressly to be understood as intending to disparage neither of the political parties, but, confining ourselves within the strict limits of our duty as journalists of the law, to reprobate, in general terms, that party spirit, no matter in what political denomination it manifests itself, which would exclude a man like Mr. Greenleaf from an office like that which he filled, merely for a difference in the shade of political opinions,—a party spirit only comparable, in its absurdity, to that custom, which, at a distant period and among a bigoted people, made the length and cut of the beard the standard of promotion to honor and office.” Mr. Fairfield, whose appointment to the office of reporter was only a step in his political progress, shortly afterwards took another in the same onward course which at length terminated in the chief magistracy of his state, and was elected to congress. His place as reporter was supplied, first, by Mr. Pierce, who died without entering upon its duties, and, then, by Mr. Shepley, whose fourth volume of reports is before us; and, now, on the occasion of Mr. Shepley's removal for political reasons, we incline to repeat, mutatis mutandis, what we said on the occasion of the removal of Mr. Greenleaf. In consequence of a resolve of the legislature of Maine, which fixes the price of the reports at so much the volume of four hundred and ninety-six pages, the reporter is obliged to make up his volumes to correspond to that number of pages, or give up his copyright profits thereof in the inverse proportion. In the five years, during which Mr. Shepley has been reporter, the cases have increased from one hundred and twenty a year to two hundred and seventy-five ; and, notwithstanding he has compressed them as much as possible, he has not been able to include the whole cases of the year in either of his last three volumes. He has now in his hands nearly enough cases for a volume of the ordinary size, which will be published without delay.

We have borne our willing testimony to Mr. Shepley's fidelity and accuracy as a reporter; and we cannot but regret, that the policy of his state makes it necessary that the office should be held by the precarious tenure of party success; but, as this policy (so far at least as the reportership is concerned) was introduced by the party to which Mr. Shepley belongs; and as he himself was indebted to that policy for the vacancy which was filled by his appointment ;-we have no doubt he will submit to his fate with as good a grace as that with which he bore the honors of office. It would be vastly better, however, we cannot help thinking, if the same wise provision, which secures the people of Maine an excellent Judge in the person of Mr. Justice Shepley, notwithstanding the downfall of the party which appointed him, were so far extended, as to retain for their benefit the services of our friend the late reporter.

9. A full and accurate Report of the Trial of William P. Darnes, on an indictment found by the Grand Jury of St. Louis county, at the September Term, 1840, of the Criminal Court of said county, on a charge of manslaughter in the third degree, for the death of Andrew J. Davis, (late of Northborough, Mass.) in the city of St. Louis, on the first of June, 1840. By Thomas S. Nelson, a member of the St. Louis Bar. Second edition. Boston: Printed by Tuttle, Dennett, & Chisholm. 1841.

The following paragraph, from the introductory notice prefixed to this edition of Darnes's trial, will explain the reasons why it is republished here:

“If any apology is appropriate, for offering to a northern public this voluminous report of a trial which took place in a distant state, it will be found in the somewhat extraordinary features of the crime itself; in the circumstance, that the unhappy victim of the crime was a native, and formerly a citizen, of our own well-governed commonwealth; in the distinguished ability with which the case was managed, both for the prosecution and defence; in the singular result of the trial; and in the perfect specimen here presented of a reported trial, which places the reader as fairly in court, as if he had been one of the crowded spectators.”

We could have wished the title somewhat shorter, but we will not quarrel with the reporter for its length, seeing that he has given us one of the fullest, most accurate, and most faithful reports, which we have ever read, of a criminal trial. We hope this kind of legal or juridical literature will receive more encouragement than it has hitherto done among us; and, for a model, we commend those who would prosecute it, to the report before us. Nothing of the kind can be better done; and, we might add, the case itself was managed with extraordinary ability.

10. Reports of Cases at Law and in Equity, argued and adjudged in the Supreme Court of Alabama. By BENJAMIN F. Port ER. Vol. IX. Containing decisions of January and June Terms, 1839. Tuscaloosa: Printed by Marmaduke J. Slade. 1840.

On the publication of Mr. Porter's second volume, we took occasion to write a notice of it, at some length, which was published in the October number for 1836. In this notice, we spoke not so much of Mr. Porter and his work, as of the glaring faults of certain other reports and reporters, whose names were not mentioned; leaving it to our readers to conjecture whom we had in view in our remarks. We, however, intimated pretty strongly our favorable opinion of Mr. Porter; and, in examining his ninth volume, we see no reason to withdraw or qualify that opinion; although the character of the cases is in many respects quite different. Several of the cases in this volume are of considerable length, as, for example, the very first, that of Hanrick v. Andrews, which occupies forty pages. Many of the discussions relate to matters of general concern, and involve questions of high interest. We should say, that this volume affords evidence of more law reading and learning, in both the court and bar, than we discovered in that which was the subject of our former notice. The works of chancellor Kent, and of Mr. Justice Story, are frequently referred to ; and, in one instance, the opinions of both are critically examined (Hanrick v. Andrews). We observe, also, that the decisions of the courts of New York and Massachusetts are often cited, and strongly relied upon. We repeat, that we can say quite as much of Mr. Porter's ninth as of his second volume Our readers will find some of the principal cases in this volume inserted in the digest of our present number.


In reference to the article in our last number, entitled, “Perjury in a deposition which is invalid as evidence in a civil suit,” we have received the following communication, together with a report of the case of Commonwealth v. Stone, the decision of which was commented upon in that article. The place appropriated to reported cases being already filled, we shall postpone the publication of the case until our next number. In the mean time, we publish our correspondent's letter, as an act of justice to the learned judge, who decided the case of Commonwealth v. Stone; and, if the writer of the article in our last finds himself somewhat severely handled in it, we trust he will recollect that his own communication is not deficient in severity.


The writer of an article on Perjury, in the last number of your journal, over the signature “G. B.,” commences his remarks with the following statement, namely: “The question lately arose in the municipal court of the city of Boston, whether one could be guilty of perjury in swearing falsely in a deposition taken in rei memoriam perpetuam, pursuant to the laws of Massachusetts, when the deposition had not been recorded within the ninety days prescribed by the statute.” If one will take the trouble to look to the case, on which this learned tyro has expended much critical remark, he will find, perhaps to his surprise, that no such question arose in the case. What constituted the crime of perjury; and whether it could be committed in a deposition of any kind, were not suggested by either of the learned counsel at the trial, nor by the judge in pronouncing his decision. The question was on a point of evidence merely, whether it was competent to read a

« PreviousContinue »