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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/251

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We have received the interesting and able opinion delivered November 7, 1887, by Judge Davis, in the Court of Claims, in the French Spoliation Cases.

After a careful review of the authorities the Court decides that the treaties of 1778 were annulled by the United States by the abrogating act of July 7, 1798. It is shown that a limited war existed between France and the United States. The perils from privateers were such that many of our merchant vessels were compelled to arm for their protection; and the Court concludes that the mere arming of such a vessel whose object was trade, even if an instruction or license under the acts of 1798, authorizing her to recapture American vessels, and to take armed French vessels within the jurisdiction of the United States, or elsewhere on the high seas, was found on board, did not authorize her seizure and condemnation.

The naval warfare on the Atlantic coast from the year 1793 to the year 1800 is reviewed at length, to show that the British West Indies were not in a state of blockade, and, therefore, that a provision-laden ship bound for Martinique was not properly liable to condemnation.

The Court also held that, owing to the unfair treatment received by our shipping at the hands of the French, an American man-of-war was entitled to salvage for rescuing an American vessel from a French privateer, although the United States was a neutral nation. The opinion is a very interesting review of the controverted questions between France and the United States during the latter part of the last century.

A pamphlet on Trial by Jury,[1] which has been kindly sent to us by Ex.-Gov. Chamberlain, contain some interesting statistics of the recent bribery trials in New York:—

“Four trials of indicted aldermen, and one of the briber Sharp, have taken place. The whole number of days occupied by four trials and one re-trial, including Sundays, holidays, and adjournments, was 61, or about 12 each. . . . It is of interest also to note that in the fourth trial the whole number of jurors summoned was 324, the whole number examined, 205; while the prosecution exercised 13 of its peremptory challenges and the defence only 6; that in the fifth trial the whole number of jurors summoned was 1,050, the whole number examined, 594; the prosecution exercising 17 peremptory challenges, and the defence 20. The trial of Jacob Sharp was begun May 16, 1887, the jury was completed June 15, and the verdict of guilty was given June 29. In this trial the whole number of jurors summoned was 2,100; the whole number examined, 1,196; the prosecution exercising 15 peremptory challenges, and the defence 20. In this case 44 calendar days elapsed from the beginning to the end, and, if I am correctly advised, 31 full court days were consumed, 22 of which were occupied in selecting the jury. Thus it appears that in these five trials and one re-trial about 90 days were actually occupied; about 4,524 jurors were summoned, of whom about 2,610 were examined in order to secure 6 panels, or 72 in number, of trial jurors. Before these jurors, thus selected, four convictions were secured, — three of the bribe-taking aldermen, and the arch-briber, — while one mis-trial of an alderman occurred.”

  1. The American System of Trial by Jury: an address delivered by D. H. Chamberlain, before the American Social Science Association, 1887.