The Green Bag
ment being subject to parol or discharge before majority if the minor shall have sufficiently reformed to justify such a step. The Court (Beck, J.) unanimously held that the sentence was legally imposed and that habeas corpus would not lie. The provisions of the Penal Code in question were held not to violate the guaranty in the Fourteenth Amendment of equal protection of the laws, merely because the sentence to the reformatory was for a term much longer than sentences of other persons to the county jail and hard labor for similar offenses. It was also decided that the conviction would not be held void because of the trivial value of the chattel stolen. The facts of the case have evidently been grossly exaggerated in the public press. During his three years in the reformatory the boy had "learned to read a passable letter," and some thing of the treatment to whch he had been subjected may be gathered from the fact that he had been allowed to return to his home for a month's stay shortly before the habeas corpus proceedings were instituted. Marriage and Divorce. Illegitimate Issue of Slave Marriages. Mass. The Dred Scott decision was recalled in the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massa chusetts March 14, which ordered a new trial in the case of Frederick H. Merrick and others, who sought to secure rights in property occupied by George F. Betts. The property involved, which was in Cambridge, was left by Frederick Merrick to his heirs upon the termination of certain life estates. Merrick, the testator, who was once a slave, died in Cambridge in 1888. The Land Court, and later the Superior Court, found for those seeking an interest in the prop erty, for $4080. It was contended by the tenant that there was no legal right in the demandants to the property, because they were offspring of invalid marriages. This contention was over ruled by Judge Morton in the lower court and the case taken to the Supreme Court on excep tions. The Court (Sheldon, J.) said in part: — "The Justice at the trial overruled as a matter of law the tenant's contention that slaves held as such in slave states before the war could not marry, and ruled that under proper conditions they could marry and have legiti mate issue. He explained his meaning as to this by his statement to the tenant's counsel, that the marriage between the father and mother of Fred Merrick was a lawful marriage. . . .
"Looking at the decisions in other courts, under the common law, the great weight of authority appears to be that slaves, while held as such, were incapable of contracting a valid marriage and of having legitimate offspring. The Supreme Court of the United States has declared it to be 'an inflexible rule of the law of African slavery, that the slave was incapable of entering into any contract, not excepting the contract of marriage.' "The wretched condition of slaves (even of free negroes) and their utter deprivation of all civil rights were described in the opinion of Taney, C. J., in the Dred Scott case, and however the authority of that decision may have been shaken by later events, the accuracy of his state ments as to negro slaves has not been disputed." Martial Law. Power of State Governor to De clare State of War. W. Va. In an opinion handed down by the West Vir ginia Supreme Court of Appeals, March 21, the right of the Governor not only to declare martial law, but to appoint a military commission, is reaffirmed. The opinion was rendered in the case of "Mother" Mary Jones, Charles H. Boswell, Paul J. Paulson and Charles Bartley, against Governor Hatfield and members of the Military Commission, asking for a writ of habeas corpus to compel the Governor and mili tary authorities to turn the petitioners over to the civil authorities. The petition denied the right of the Governor and the Military Commis sion to try persons apprehended outside the mili tary zone of the Eanawha County coal fields. The opinion stated that the Governor has the right to arrest out of the military district all persons who shall willfully give aid, support or information to persons within the zone who break the laws. It further states that the Gov ernor and Military Commission has the right to detain or imprison persons apprehended out side the martial law section. The court does not consider that the declaration of martial law or the creation of a Military Commission are in contravention of the constitutions either of the state or of the United States. A similar opinion was rendered Dec. 19 by Judge Poffenbarger in the habeas corpus cases decided by the same court. We quote from the syllabus (State ex rel. Mays v. Brown, 77 S. E. 243) : — "The Governor of this state has power to de clare a state of war in any town, city, district or county of the state, in the event of an inva sion thereof by a hostile military force or an