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United States Supreme Court

25 U.S. 19

Martin  v.  Mott

ERROR to the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and Correction of Errors of the State of New-York.

This was an action of replevin, originally brought in the Supreme Court of New-York by the defendant in error, Mott, against the plaintiff in error, Martin, to which an avowry was filed, containing, substantially, the following allegations: That on the 18th of June, 1812, and from thence until the 25th of December, 1814, there was public and open war between the United States of America, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and its dependencies, and the citizens and subjects of the said countries respectively; and that during the continuance of the said war, to wit, on the 4th day of August, 1814; and also, on the 29th day of the same month, in the same year, at the city of New-York, to wit, at Poughkeepsie, in the county of Dutchess, his Excellency Daniel D. Tompkins, Esq. was then and there Governor of the State of New-York, and Commander in Chief of the militia thereof, and being so Governor and Commander in Chief, he, the said Daniel D. Tompkins, as such Governor and Commander in Chief, on the several days last aforesaid, and in the year aforesaid, and at the place aforesaid, upon the previous requisitions of the President of the United States, for that purpose made, and to him directed, as such Governor and Commander in Chief, did issue two several general orders, bearing date respectively on the said 4th and 29th days of August, in the year aforesaid, in and by which said two general orders, among other things, the said Daniel D. Tompkins, as Governor and Commander in Chief as aforesaid, pursuant to such requisitions, and in compliance therewith, did detail certain parts and portions of the militia of the State, as he was required to do, in and by the requisitions of the President of the United States, as aforesaid, and did order the militia so detailed into the service of the United States of America, at the city of New-York, within the third military district of the said United States, as in and by the said two general orders may more fully appear. That the said Jacob E. Mott, on the several days, and in the year aforesaid, and until the 25th day of December, in the same year, being a white citizen of the said State of New-York, inhabiting and residing within the same, and between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, was liable to do military duty in the militia of the said State, and was a private in the militia of the said State that was so detailed and ordered into the service of the United States aforesaid, and as such private in said militia was bound to do military duty in the militia of the said State so detailed and ordered into the service of the United States, in the third military district of the United States. That on the 24th of September, 1814, Morgan Lewis, Esq. was a Major General, commanding the army of the United States, of the third military district of the said United States, in which district the militia of the State of New-York, detailed and ordered into the service of the United States as aforesaid, had been ordered to do military duty in the service of the United States. And the said Morgan Lewis, so being a Major General, and commanding as aforesaid, did, on the day, and in the year last aforesaid, as such Major General and commander, issue general orders to convene a general Court Martial for the purpose in the said orders expressed, composed of so many, and such militia officers in the service of the United States, in the said third military district, as in the said orders are mentioned; it having been then and there considered and adjudged by the said Morgan Lewis, that a greater number of officers than those detailed on the said Court Martial, could not be spared from the service of the United States without manifest injury to the said service; which said general orders are in the words and figures following, to wit: 'Adjutant General's Office, 3d M. D. New-York, 24th September, 1814. General Orders. A General Court Martial, under the act of Congress of the 28th of February, 1795, for the trial of those of the militia of the State of New-York, ordered into the service of the United States, in the third military district, who have failed to rendezvous pursuant to orders, will convene on Monday, the 26th instant, at Harmony Hall, and will consist of the following members,' (enumerating them, being six in number,) which General Court Martial was continued (although varied as to its members) by various general orders set out in the avowry until the 13th of May, 1818. That the said J. E. Mott, being so liable, &c. did fail, neglect, and refuse to rendezvous and enter into the service of the United States, in obedience to the orders issued by the Governor of the State, on the requisition of the President of the United States, and in compliance therewith. That on the 30th of May, 1818, the said Court Martial convened at Poughkeepsie, within the said third military district, at which time and place, the said Jacob E. Mott was duly summoned to appear before the said Court Martial; and did then and there appear before the said Court Martial, and make his defence to the charges alleged against him a aforesaid. That the said General Court Martial then and there tried the said Jacob E. Mott for having failed, neglected, and refused to rendezvous, and enter into the service of the United States, in obedience to the orders aforesaid, issued in compliance with the requisition aforesaid; and after hearing the proofs and allegations, as well on the part of the United States, as on the part of the said Jacob E. Mott, then and there convicted the said Jacob E. Mott of the said delinquency; and thereupon the said General Court Martial imposed the sum of 96 dollars as a fine on the said Jacob E. Mott, for having thus failed, neglected, and refused to rendezvous, and enter into the service of the United States, when thereto required as aforesaid. That before the said last mentioned day, to wit, on the 25th of December, 1814, a treaty of peace was made and concluded between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its dependencies; and that the said Morgan Lewis, and Daniel D. Tompkins, the Major Generals who issued the orders organizing, convening, and continuing the said General Court Martial as aforesaid were not continued as such Major Generals as aforesaid, in the service of the United States aforesaid, at the time herein next afterwards mentioned, nor was there any other officer of equal grade with the said last mentioned Major Generals in the service of the United States, commanding in the military district aforesaid, at the time the said Court imposed the fine and sentence aforesaid on the said plaintiff as aforesaid, by whom the said sentence could be approved; but that the said fine, sentence, and proceedings of the said Court Martial, so far as they related to the case of the said Jacob E. Mott, were duly approved by the President of the United States, before the same were certified by the President of the Court Martial aforesaid, to the Marshal of the Southern District of the State of New-York, as hereinafter mentioned, and before the 4th day of June, 1814. That the President of the said General Court Martial, afterwards, to wit, on the day and year, and at the place last aforesaid, in pursuance to the statute of the United States, in such case made and provided, did make a certificate in writing, whereby he did, under his hand, certify to the Marshal of the Southern District of New-York, that the sum of 96 dollars was imposed as a fine on said Jacob E. Mott, for having thus failed, neglected, and refused, to enter the service of the United States, when hereunto required as aforesaid, and that the said Jacob E. Mott was sentenced by the said General Court Martial, on failure of the payment of said fine imposed on him, to twelve months imprisonment.

The avowry then proceeded to state the authority of the plaintiff in error, Martin, as Deputy Marshal, to execute such certificate, and that, in the execution thereof, he took the said goods, &c.

To this avowry the plaintiff in replevin demurred, and assigned the following causes of demurrer:

1. The said defendant, in his said avowry, does not allege that the President of the United States had adjudged that there was an invasion, or imminent danger of an invasion; or that any of the exigencies had occurred, in which the President is empowered to call out the militia by the Constitution of the United States.

2. The said defendant in the said avowry does not aver that any such previous requisition upon the Governor was, in fact, made by the President of the United States; no such requisition is set forth, nor is the date or substance thereof, or the number of militia thereby required, stated in the said avowry.

3. The said avowry does not state that the said militia were ordered into actual service, in compliance with such requisition; nor does it appear that the militia were required by said requisition to rendezvous or act within the territory of the United States.

4. The said avowry does not sufficiently show or set forth either the particulars or substance of the said orders of the Governor of the State of New-York, in the said avowry mentioned, in such manner that it can appear whether the said orders, or either of them, directed all those of the militia called out thereby, to rendezvous or enter the service of the United States upon the requisition of the said President, solely, or whether the said orders also called out a part of the same militia, by, under, and pursuant to the authority and laws of the State of New-York, without the requisition of the said President, and without designating which were ordered to rendezvous and enter the service by the said respective authorities.

5. The said avowry does not show that the two said several orders of the Governor were cumulative, explanatory of, auxiliary to, or in any way connected with each other; nor whether both of the said orders embraced the same or different persons, and required the same or different duties; nor with such certainty that it can appear whether a disobedience of the other or both of the said orders would be the same, a different, or an additional offence, subject to the same or different jurisdiction; nor does it state the number of the militia called out by the said orders, so that it can appear whether in that respect the said orders were in compliance with the requisitions of the President, nor by which of the said orders the said plaintiff was called forth into the service of the United States; in all which the said avowry is uncortain and insufficient.

6. The said avowry is double and uncertain, inasmuch as therein the said plaintiff is charged with having committed two several offences in the disobedience of the two said several orders of the Governor, without showing that both offences were necessary for the trial and conviction of the said plaintiff; or any reason why the said orders should be so blended together; and because the said orders are so blended together without showing any dependence upon each other, or any connexion between them.

7. The general orders in the said avowry set forth, under and by virtue of which the said Court Martial was convened, and tried, convicted, and fined the said plaintiff, are deficient, uncertain, vague, inoperative, void, and of no effect, and conferred upon the said Court Martial, or the members thereof, no jurisdiction over the said plaintiff, or the offence with which he is charged in the said avowry, inasmuch as the said last mentioned general orders convened said Court Martial for the of those of the militia of the State of New-York, ordered into the service of the United States, in the third military district, who had failed to rendezvous pursuant to orders, without specifying in any manner when, by whom, to whom, or by what authority, or in what manner such orders should have been issued in regard to the said militia, or when such militia had failed to rendezvous, or whether the orders pursuant to which said militia should have failed to rendezvous, were the same orders calling said militia into service in said third military district, or required them to rendezvous elsewhere or otherwise.

3. The said defendant in his said avowry states, that the said Court Martial was duly convened in pursuance of the said several general orders, in the said avowry set forth, on the 24th day of October, 1814; a day long before the last of the said general orders, by which the said Court is stated to have been duly convened, was issued, as appears by the said avowry, all which is repugnant and contradictory.

9. The orders for convening the said Court Martial, as in the said avowry set forth, are further uncertain, because by the said orders, the said Court Martial is stated to have been convened under the act of Congress of the 28th day of February, 1795, without showing which of the acts of Congress of that date is intended.

10. The trial of the said plaintiff by the said Court Martial, as appears by the said avowry, was in a time of profound peace.

11. The said Court Martial had no power or authority under the said general orders by which they were convened, to try, convict, and fine the said plaintiff, for having failed, neglected, and refused to rendezvous and enter the service of the United States, in obedience to the orders aforesaid, issued in compliance with the requisitions aforesaid.

12. The said Court Martial, consisting of less than thirteen members, had no power nor authority to try, convict, and fine the said plaintiff, at the time said trial was had, it being a time of peace, without showing that thirteen militia officers could not at that time be spared without manifest injury to the service.

13. By the said avowry it doth not appear whether all or how many of the persons detailed by the said general orders as members of the said Court Martial, continued to remain in the service of the United States at the time when the said plaintiff was tried; or that the places of such as had resigned were supplied by others appointed in their stead; or in what manner the said Court was duly convened; or of how many members it was then composed; and whether all the persons who acted as members of the said Court Martial, at the time when the said plaintiff was tried, were then commissioned officers of the militia, of competent rank, and in the service of the United States.

14. The said avowry does not allege that the orders by which the said Court Martial was continued in service until further orders, remained still unrevoked at the time when the said plaintiff was tried.

15. The said avowry does not show in what manner, when, or by whom the said plaintiff was duly summoned to appear before the said Court Martial.

16. The said avowry does not show at what time the said Morgan Lewis and Daniel D. Tompkins were discontinued; nor but that they were such major generals commanding as aforesaid, on the said 13th day of May, 1818; nor but that at the time of the said trial there was a major general, of equal rank with the said Morgan Lewis and Daniel D. Tompkins, commanding an army in the service of the United States, or some other officer of competent authority, in some military division of territory comprising the said third military district, by whom the sentence of said Court Martial could have been approved.

17. By the said sentence of the said Court Martial, as the same is in the said avowry set forth, the said Gerard Steddiford, president of the said Court, had no power or authority to issue such a certificate as is in the said avowry mentioned, inasmuch as the said certificate is variant from the said sentence.

18. The said defendant does not in his said avowry allege that the said plaintiff ever was in the service of the United States before, at the time when, or after, the said orders of the Governor, of the 4th and 29th days of August, 1814, were issued, or at the time when the said orders for detailing the said Court Martial were issued, when said Court Martial convened, or when the said trial took place, and the said fine was imposed.

19. The said certificate of the said Gerard Steddiford, as in the said avowry set forth, does not show with sufficient certainty by what Court, or by whom, or by what authority the said fine was imposed; nor does it appear that the said Gerard Steddiford made the said certificate, as such president of the said Court Martial, or signed the same in his official capacity.

And also, that the said avowry is, in other respects, uncertain, informal, and insufficient, &c.

The defendant in replevin (now plaintiff in error) joined in demurrer; and judgment was rendered in behalf of the plaintiff in replevin, in the Supreme Court, which was affirmed by the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and Correction of Errors.

The cause was then brought before this Court, by writ of error, under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20.

Jan. 17th.

The cause was argued by the Attorney General, and Mr. Coxe, for the plaintiff in error, and by Mr. D. B. Ogden, for the defendant in error. But as the grounds of argument are fully stated in the opinion of the Court, it has not been thought necessary to insert it. Feb. 2d.

Mr. Justice STORY delivered the opinion of the Court.

NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).