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commanding officer of every vessel in the navy entitled to or claiming an award of prize money, shall, as early as practicable, after the capture, transmit to the navy department a complete list of the officers and men of his vessel, entitled to share, inserting thereon the quality of every person rating.”
By the seventh section of the same act, forfeiture of prize money is declared to be also a portion of the penalty upon any person in the navy who shall “take out of any prize, or vessel seized as prize, any money, plate, goods, or any part of her equipment, before the same shall be adjudged lawful prize by a competent court, unless it be for the better preservation thereof, or absolutely necessary for the use of any of the vessels or armed forces of
the United States." Armed ves- By the sixth section of the act,“ armed vessels in
me the service of the United States, which shall make entitled as if a capture," or be within signal distance of a vessel in the navy.
of the navy, when making a capture, are declared to be “entitled to an award of prize money, in the same manner as if such vessels belonged to the navy."
sels overn ment service
Merchant ves- Merchant vessels making a capture are not ensels making captures not titled, by strict law, to any share whatever of the entitled in Strict law proceeds of the captured property; but it has not but in practice been the practice to exact in such cases the legal a share is awarded them right of the government to the entire proceeds, but, commensurate with the meri- on the contrary, to award the merchant captors a
· portion of the proceeds, and sometimes even the acter of the service. whole, according to the circumstances of the case,
and the meritorious character of the service per formed.
By this practice it is understood that the concession of the strict legal rights of the government is optional with the navy department, and the courts in such cases, act upon such concession, in their decrees of distribution.
Such was the recent case of The Agnes H. Ward, captured by the merchant California steamer, Northern Light, and adjudicated in the District Court of the United States for the District of New York.
A lieutenant in the navy of the United States happened to be on board the merchant steamer as passenger, and took part in the capture. Upon the concessions of the secretary of the navy, the court decreed three twentieths of the captor's moiety to the lieutenant on board, as if in command of a single ship, acting independently, and the residue of the captor's moiety to the merchant vessel, to be distributed in designated proportions among owners, officers, and men.
Who are the lawful distributees of prize money as captors or joint captors, is settled by the final decree of distribution of the prize-court.
This decree of distribution is not, as it was prior Decree of disto the Act of Congress of March 25th, 1862, a de
QG de tribution.
002, a UE How required cree of detailed distribution setting forth not only to be rendered
by the act of the vessels entitled, but the individuals, and the March 25th, amount to be paid to each.
By the provisions of that act, the decree of final distribution, now only determines what ships are entitled, and whether the captured vessel was of superior, equal, or inferior force to the capturing vessel.
This decree is to be based upon the report of
And how and the prize commissioners to the court, setting forth same is to be the evidence produced before them upon these
points by the government and the captors.
Upon the basis of this decree, the amount to which each person is entitled as captor, is then ascertained at the navy department, where the prize lists are required by law to be sent by commanders, where the respective rates of pay of all on board the vessels entitled, is known, and where the prize money is to be paid under the direction of the secretary.
the costs and disbursements.
COSTS AND DISBURSEMENTS IN PRIZE
PROCEEDINGS. Character of The sending in, safe keeping and adjudication of
a captured property, necessarily involve large expen
ditures. These consist of pilotage, towage, wharf. age, insurance, the expenses of an unlivery of cargo, where such unlivery is necessary to its preservation, storage, and the numerous expenses incident to the
adjudication, appraisement and sale. How to be These costs and expenses constitute a charge liquidated.
upon the proceeds of the property, if the same should be condemned and sold. But many of these expenses are of such a nature as to require immediate disbursement, and the liquidation of none of them should be postponed to the termination of a protracted litigation, especially if the litigation be protracted by appeals from final decrees of condemnation.
To provide against such delays, which have occasioned very great embarrassment in the recent judi
cial proceedings upon maritime captures in the Embarrass
ments resultcourts of the United States, the obviously proper ing from the course is that pursued in the British Admiralty, prom
want of an apnamely, the provision of a fund by the government, pay the neces
? sary expenses for the purpose of prompt liquidation of these ex- of adjudicapenses, under such regulation as shall insure its proper application, as an advance by the dominus litis, upon the security of the property in his possession. By the provisions of the act of Congress of March Attempted
remedy by 25th, 1862, it was attempted to effect the payment statute proof the expenses referred to out of the proceeds of visi the sale of captured property, without further delay than that requisite for its condemnation; and in view of the ordinary and requisite celerity in prize proceedings, it was thought that a provision for payment at such time, might supersede the necessity of providing a special fund, and tend to relieve the embarrassments arising from the delay.
The second section of the act referred to, accordingly provides that the several charges and expenses enumerated, “having been audited and allowed by the court, shall, in the event of a decree of condem. nation, be paid out of the proceeds of any sale of the property, final or interlocutory, in the custody of the court." An appeal from a decree of condemnation in a Reasons for
, such construcprize cause, should not, it was urged, as in England tion of the it does not, stay the execution of the decree, except statute as so far as to postpone the final distribution of the the remedy. net proceeds of the property.
In the case of a capture by a private armed vessel, the captors are entitled to the possession of the property upon security, after a condemộation, not
withstanding an appeal; and where the capture is made by a public ship, a sale of the property, and deposit of the proceeds, as required by law, should, in all cases, follow directly upon a decree of con. demnation, even though an appeal be interposed.
It would be intolerable, it was said, to allow a · claimant of captured property, after it has been
condemned on the proofs and argument, by the intervention of an appeal which, in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, is for delay simply, and upon his giving an appeal-bond for the paltry sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, as required by law, to tie up property, perhaps to the value of half a million, which not being perishable, cannot be sold, during the months, and it may be years, of the pendency of the several appeals, the expenses upon which, for safe custody and insurance, exceed the amount of his appeal bonds, during each week of the litigation—and which expenses he is in no event bound to pay—but which must be deducted from the proceeds of the property, thus reducing, by thousands, the amount subject to the final decree of distribution.
Such a practice, it was said, would seem even more intolerable and unjust, when it is considered that it is the established rule of prize-courts, that a decree of condemnation, in the first instance, being conclusive evidence of the highest character, of the probable and justifiable cause of capture, subjects the claimants to the payment of all the costs and expenses, even although such decree should be reversed on appeal.
Indeed, the captured property is invariably charged with the costs and expenses, by the decisions of prize-courts, wherever probable cause for