Open main menu

Page:United States Reports, Volume 2.djvu/254

This page needs to be proofread.


I |.|8 Casas ruled and adjudged in the t·;g6. On arguing the motion, it was contended, by the defendant': www counfel, that the defendant had aéted in his ollicial capacity, and was only refponiible to his own government for his mil`eon· du&. That the remedy of any injured American citizen was by applying;-likewife, to his own government, which is bound to proteéi is rights, and to procure a redrefs. That the commif- lion ofthe defendant gave him a general fuperintendance over the allizirs of the Illand ; and that many things were jultiliable to be done by an Executive ollicer in a revolutionary period, for which it was not juli, or reafonable to make him anfwerable by any other, than the law of the country, in which he aéied. The eounfel for the plaintilfobferved, that on a preliminary motion of this kind, it was only neeelfary to fhew a probable eaufe of aftion; and, they contended, that having proved the pIaintill"s intereli in the cargo of the brig, and the tortious fei- ‘zure by the defendant, in direét violation of the decree, pro- nounced by a competent tribunal, it was matter of defence proper for a trial before a jury, to lhew that the defendant’s eondu£t was juliiiied by his oliicial authority or duty. But, it was urged, that there was no colour for fuch a defence. The commillion of the defendant extends only to a military conttoul; it gives no appellate jurifdiéiion, from the tribunals of juliice ; g and even {tate necellity could not be pretended, as the brig and cargo were not feizcd and appropriated to the public ufe; but ‘ were confifcated for the benefit of the owners of the privateer. The refponlibility of a foreign magiflrate to his_own government exclulively, for his oilicial a&s, will not be difputed; but if a man, who happens to be the oilicer of a foreign government, does an injury to the property, or perfon, of an American citi- gen, without a public authority,.mctive, or ob'e€t, he is refpon- iible like any other individual, at the fuit of the injured party. Whedter the prefent aggreilion was a private, or an oilicial,

6}, is the gill; of the controverfy; and, on that point, the plain-

tiff is entitled to a trial; which, however, he is not likely ever . to obtain with elfeél, if the defendant, a traveller, is difcharged on common bail. ` _ Br rm: Comer. We think, that there is fuflicient caufe hewn, for holding the defendant to bail. But, it mult not be underliood, that, by this decilion, we giye any countenance to an opinion, that he is ultimately liable. It is a qucilion nf gre at delicacy, in which our regard for the rights of a fellow-citizen, and our refpe& for the fovcreignty of a foreign nation, are e- qually involved. When, therefore, the fubjeél is judicially in- veftigated, we {hall be governed, as well by the law of nations, as by our municipal law.*

  • The defendant com_.lained of his arrefl to the government of

Franc, by which it was inade a matter of public complui nt againfl the Federal government; and, eventually, the plain;ilH difcontinutl liactiou.