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I do not say how and
after what consideration it maybe considered as definitively
decided. In the first instance it may be misunderstood or
feebly presented. It may have been misapprehended by the
judges, and not considered in all its bearings, or they may
have wanted time and means for a careful and thorough
investigation, and may therefore consent and desire to
reconsider it one or more times. But I only say that, when
thus definitively adjudged, the decision must be deemed
conclusive and stand as a rule of law.

Unfortunately the United States has no "well-ordered system of
jurisprudence." A citizen may be tried, condemned, and put to
death by the erroneous judgment of a single inferior judge, and
no court can grant him relief or a new trial. If a citizen have a
cause involving the title to his farm, if it exceed two thousand
dollars in value, he may bring his cause to the Supreme Court;
but if it involves his liberty or his life, he can not. While we
permit this blemish to exist on our judicial system, it behooves
us to watch carefully the judgments inferior courts may render;
and it is doubly important that we should see to it that twelve
jurors shall concur with the Judge before a citizen shall be
hanged, incarcerated, or otherwise punished.

I concur with the majority of the Committee that Congress can not
grant the precise relief prayed for in the memorial; but I deem
it to be the duty of Congress to declare its disapproval of the
doctrine asserted and the course pursued in the trial of Miss
Anthony; and all the more for the reason that no judicial court
has jurisdiction to review the proceedings therein.

I need not disclaim all purpose to question the motives of the
learned Judge before whom this trial was conducted. The best of
judges may commit the gravest of errors amid the hurry and
confusion of a _nisiprius_ term; and the wrong Miss Anthony has
suffered ought to be charged to the vicious system which denies
to those convicted of offenses against the laws of the United
States a hearing before the court of last resort--a defect it is
equally within the power and the duty of Congress speedily to
remedy.

MATT H. CARPENTER.

Mr. Tremaine, from the House Judiciary Committee, reported adversely
on the prayer of Miss Anthony's Petition, and Benjamin F. Butler
favorably.

Forty-third Congress, 1st Session, House of Representatives,
Report No. 608, Susan B. Anthony, May 25, 1874, recommitted to
the Committee on the Judiciary and ordered to be printed.

Mr. B. F. BUTLER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted
the following Report to accompany bill H. R. 3492:

_The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the
memorial of Susan B. Anthony, of the city of Rochester, in the
State of New York, praying that a fine alleged to have been
unjustly imposed on the petitioner by a judgment of the Circuit
Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York,
may be remitted, having considered the prayer of the petitioner
and the statement of facts set forth in the memorial,
respectfully beg leave to report_:

* * * * *

Are these positions of the petitioner well founded? By necessary
division there arise two questions: First, has Congress any
power, or is there any precedent for entertaining such petition
for such purpose? And, secondly, are the acts and order of the
judge in accordance with the law of the land, and not in
derogation of the right of the citizen to trial by jury at common
law as guaranteed by the Constitution, as known and practiced in
the courts of the United States? If the first should be answered
in the negative, of course the committee and the House would be
spared the discussion of the second.

It seems to your committee that there are two very noted and
historical cases which may form the precedents for this
application, and favorable action thereon by Congress--in the
proceeding concerning the fines imposed by the courts on Matthew
Lyon and General Jackson.

Lyon was fined by a United States judge for a seditious libel. He
petitioned for a remission of fine upon the ground that the law
was unconstitutional under which he was convicted. That petition
was very fully considered, and, in 1820, a report was presented
to the Senate by Mr. Barbour, of Virginia, which, after
elaborating the considerations, concludes thus:

In this case, therefore, the committee think the Government
is under a moral obligation to indemnify the petitioner.

In this claim of Lyon, after remaining before Congress until
1840, a bill, upon a favorable report of the Committee on the
Judiciary, was passed by the House, restoring the fine with
interest, by a vote of 124 to 15. This case, however, is subject
to the criticism, that in it Congress undertook to do justice to
a citizen suffering from an unconstitutional law which it had
enacted, and thereby distinguishes it from the present
application: but the case of General Jackson, so familiar to all
that its facts need not be recited, covers that point. There was
the remitting of a fine imposed by a judge in excess of his
authority in acting without warrant of law.

Assuming, therefore, that this application is properly before us,
we come to the second question of whether, by the proceedings in
court, the legal rights of the petitioner have been infringed,
from which she has suffered. It would not seem to be germane to
this question to inquire whether or not the petitioner had the
legal right to vote, because that was a question of law fully
within the competency of the judge to decide, and his decision
did not necessarily work a hardship to the defendant, even if
mistaken in judgment. Or, in other words, it was a rightful
execution of a power intrusted to him by law, from which there
was no appeal to this or any other jurisdiction.

We come, therefore, to the great question in this case: whether
the judge erred in withdrawing the case from the jury. Upon this
question it would seem that the judge himself vacillated in the
trial, because he permitted evidence to be gone into on both
sides as a question of fact, tending to show whether the
petitioner did or did not vote, knowing that she had no right so
to do; but afterward withdrew the consideration of that evidence,
upon the fact of intention or guilty knowledge, wholly from the
jury, and ordered a verdict to be entered up upon his own
decision, without allowing the question either to be argued or
submitted to the jury, or the jury to pass upon it.

There certainly can be no graver question affecting the rights of
citizens than this. The whole theory of trial by jury at common
law consists in the fundamental maxim that before any conviction
can be had for a crime it must be passed upon by twelve good and
lawful men, the peers of the accused; and the very oath
prescribed to jurors by the common law most distinctly guaranteed
this right to the accused: "You shall well and truly try and true
deliverance make, between the King and the prisoner at the bar,
according to your evidence;" while at the common law the oath
prescribed in civil cases gave a right to a judge to direct the
jury in the matter of law, and to direct the verdict one way or
the other, as he saw fit, the oath being substantially as
follows: "You shall well and truly try the issue between party
and party according to the law and the evidence given you."

Whatever changes may have been made in the practice of the States
since the time of the earlier amendments to the Constitution,
certain it is that at that time, after a jury had been impaneled,
there was no way that the accused could be put in jeopardy of
life or limb without his cause being submitted to twelve men, and
their unanimous verdict passing upon the fact of his guilt or
innocence. And this right your committee deem is not one lightly
to be sacrificed. Burke once said that the whole English
Constitution and machinery of government--not quoting words--were
only to put into a jury-box twelve honest men. What advantage
could it be to an accused to put twelve honest men into the
jury-box, if the judge, without asking for their opinion, or
without their intervention, can order a verdict of guilty to be
entered up against the accused?

Nothing, therefore, can be of more consequence to the citizen in
troublous times to protect him against the exercise of usurped or
other power for oppression, than the intervention of the judgment
of his peers upon the question whether he has been guilty of a
crime, or alleged offense against the Government. And in the
judgment of your committee, we can not too scrupulously guard, in
the interest of the liberty of the citizen, this great and almost
invaluable right. The friends of liberty under the common-law
system have stood for it and stood by it, strenuously and
assiduously, as the palladium of their liberties and the
impenetrable shield of the people from oppression. By the order
of the judge the defendant was deprived of this right, and if, in
this case of minor consequence so far as regards the punishment
inflicted, this can be done, so in the trial for murder or
treason a judge may order a verdict of the jury without allowing
them to pass upon the fact.



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