Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

decision of the Supreme Court was otherwise ;, and it seems now to be settled, that the federal courts, as courts of admiralty, are to exercise such criminal jurisdiction as is conferred upon them expressly by acts of Congress, and that they are not to exercise any other. This limitation does not, however, apply to private prosecutions in the District Court, as a court of admiralty or prize court, to recover damages for a marine tort. Such cases are cognizable in the admiralty, by virtue of its general admiralty jurisdiction, and so it was held in the case of The Amiable Nancy."

The civil jurisdiction of the English admiralty is according to the forms of the civil law, and before a single judge; but the criminal jurisdiction, in which all maritime felonies are tried, is in the Court of Admiralty sessions, before commissioners of oyer and terminer, being the judge of the Court of Admiralty, and three or four associates. It has cognizance of all crimes and offences committed at sea, or on the coasts, out of the body of a county; and in that court, the proceedings are by indictment, and trial by jury, according to the course of the common law.. The criminal jurisdiction of the English admiralty received its present modification by the act of 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15.; but it had a very extensive criminal jurisdiction, coeval with the first existence of the court. It proceeded by indictment and petit

a 1 Wheaton, 415.

6 3 Wheaton, 546. It was held, in Chamberlain v. Chandler, 3 Mason, 242, that the admiralty had jurisdiction of personal torts and wrongs committed on a passenger on the high seas, by the master of the ship, whether the torts were by direct force, as trespasses, or were consequential injuries. So, in Plumer v. Webb, 4 Mason, 380, it was held, that a father or master might sue in the admiralty for wages earned by maritime service, and for torts committed on the high seas, as in the abduction of a minor or apprentice, per quod servitium amisit. If the tortious act happens in port, but is a continuing injury from sea, or if there be a trespass at sea upon property, and continued upon land, it becomes a maritime tort of admiralty jurisdiction.

C 4 Blacks. Com. 265.

jury, before, and independent of, the statute of Hen. VIII. ; and all criminal offences cognizable by the admiralty, and not otherwise provided for by positive law, are punishable by fine and imprisonment. The better opinion, however, is, that the ancient common law, or primitive criminal jurisdiction of the English admiralty, has become obsolete, and has not been in exercise for the last one hundred years ; and that no offence of a criminal nature can be tried there, which does not fall within the jurisdiction specially conferred by the statute of Hen. VIII. There is, therefore, a very strong precedent for the doctrine of the Supreme Court of the United States, which refuses to the federal courts any criminal jurisdiction in admiralty cases, not derived from statute. And to whatever extent the criminal jurisdiction of the admiralty may extend, the judiciary act of 1789 provides, that the trial of all issues in fact in the District Courts, in all causes except civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, shall be by jury.

(3.) As to the division line between the jurisdiction of the admiralty, and of courts of common law.

There has existed a very contested question, and of ancient Limits of standing, touching the proper division or boundary line be- risdiction. tween the jurisdiction of the courts of common law and the courts of admiralty. The admiralty jurisdiction in England originally extended to all crimes and offences committed upon the sea, and in all ports, rivers, and arms of the sea, as far as the tide ebbed and flowed. Lord Coke's doctrine was, that the sea did not include any navigable waters within the body of a county; and Sir Matthew Hale supposed,d that prior to the statute of 35th Edw. III., the common law and the admiralty exercised jurisdiction concur

a 4 Rob. Rep. 74. note.

b 2 Bro. Civ. and Adm. Law, appendix, No. 3. Opinion of Law Officers of the Crown, ibid.

C 4 Inst, 135.
d 2 Hale's P. C. ch. 3.

With respect

rently in the narrow seas, and in ports and havens within the ebb and flow of the tide. Under the statutes of 13 R. II. c. 5. and 15 R. II. c. 3., excluding the admiralty jurisdiction in cases arising upon land or water within the body of a county, except in cases of murder and mayhem, there have been long and vexatious contentions between the admiralty and the common law courts. On the sea shore, the common law jurisdiction is bounded by low water mark; and between high and low water mark, where the sea ebbs and flows, the common law and the admiralty have a divided or alternate jurisdiction."

respect to the admiralty jurisdiction over arms of the sea, and bays and navigable rivers, where the tide ebbs and flows, there has been great difference of opinion, and great litigation, in the progress of the English jurisprudence. On the part of the admiralty, it has been insisted, that the admiralty continued to possess jurisdiction in all ports, havens and navigable rivers, where the sea ebbs and flows below the first bridges. This seemed also to be the opinion of ten of the judges at Westminster, on a reference to them in 1713. On the part of the common law courts, it has been contended, that the bodies of counties comprehended all navigable rivers, creeks, ports, harbours, and arms of the sea, which are so narrow as to permit a person to discern, and attest upon oath, any thing done on the other shore, and so as to enable an inquisition of facts to be taken. In

a 1 Blacks. Com. 110. Constable's case, 5 Co. 106, 7. Barber v. Wharton, 2 Lord Raym. 1452. 2 East's P. C. 803. 4 Blacks. Com. 268.

b Cited in Andrew's Rep. 232.

c King v. Soleguard, Andrew's Rep. 231. The resolution of the judges in 1632, cited in Bro. Civ. and Adm. Law, 78. Stanton, J., Fitz. Abr. Corone. 399. 8 Ed. II. 4 Inst. 140. Hawkins' P. C. b. 2. c. 9. sec. 14.. East's P. C. 804. 5 Wheaton's Rep. 106. note. Com. Dig. tit. Adm. E. 7. 14. Bacon's Abr. tit. Adm. A. United States v. Grush, 5 Mason, 290.

[ocr errors]

the case of Bruce, in 1812, all the judges agreed, that the common law and the admiralty had a concurrent jurisdiction in bays, havens, creeks, &c., where ships of war floated. The high seas, mean the waters of the ocean without the boundary of any county, and they are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the admiralty up to high-water mark when the tide is full. The open ocean which washes the sea coast, is used in contradistinction to arms of the sea enclosed within the fauces terre, or narrow headlands and promontories; and under this head is included rivers, harbours, creeks, basins, bays, &c. where the tide ebbs and flows. They are within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States; but if they are within the body of a county of any particular state, the state jurisdiction attaches.b

The extent of the jurisdiction of the District Courts, as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, was very fully examined, and with great ability and research, by the Circuit Court of the United States for Massachusetts, in the case of De Lovio v. Boit. It was maintained, that in

very early periods, the admiralty jurisdiction, in civil cases, extended to all maritime causes and contracts, and in criminal cases to all torts and offences, as well in ports and havens within the ebb and flow of the tide, as upon the high seas; and that the English admiralty was formed upon the same common model, and was co-extensive in point of jurisdiction with the maritime courts of the other commercial

of Europe. It was shown, by an exposition of the ancient cases, that Lord Coke was mistaken, in his attempt to confine the ancient jurisdiction of the admiralty to the high seas, and to exclude it from the narrow tide waters, and

[ocr errors]

powers

a 2 Leach's Crown Cases, 1093. case 353. 4th edit.

b Hale's Hist, P. C. vol. 1. 424. Ibid. vol. 2. 13. 18. 54. 3 Inst. 113. Constable's case, 5 Co. 106. a. Lord Hale, Harg. L. T. ch. 4. p. 10. United States v. Grush, 5 Mason, 290.

€ 2 Gallison, 398.

from ports and havens. The court agreed with the admiralty civilians, that the statute of 13 R. II. and 15 R. II. and 2 H. IV., did not curtail this ancient and original jurisdiction of the admiralty, and that consistently with those statutes, the admiralty might exercise jurisdiction over torts and injuries upon the high seas, and in ports within the ebb and flow of the tide, and in great streams below the first bridges; and also over all maritime contracts, as well as over matters of prize and its incidents. It appeared from an historical review of the progress of the controversy for jurisdiction, which lasted for two centuries, between the admiralty and tne courts of common law, that the latter, by a silent and steady march, gained ground, and extended their limits, until they acquired concurrent jurisdiction over all maritime causes, except prize causes, within the cognizance of the admiralty. The common law doctrine was, that the sea, ex vi termini, was without the body of any county ; but that all ports and havens, and all navigable tide waters, where one might see from one land to the other what was doing, were within the body of the county, and under the exclusive jurisdiction of the common law courts. On the sea shore or coast, high and low-water mark determined what was parcel of the sea, and what was the line of division between the admiralty and the courts of law; and it was held, that it ought to be so considered, by parity of reason, where the tide ebbs and flows, in ports and havens ; and that the admiralty jurisdiction extends to all tide waters in ports and havens, and rivers beneath the first bridges. It was admitted, however, that the common law originally had jurisdiction on the high seas, concurrent with the admiralty; and that in cases manifestly within the admiralty jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, the common law now claimed concurrent jurisdiction.

The result of the examination in that case was, that the jurisdiction of the admiralty, until the statutes of Richard II., extended to all maritime contracts, and to all torts, injuries, and offences, on the high seas, and in ports and

« AnteriorContinuar »