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same kind with the sheriffs of the Anglo-Saxons. This is a strong evidence of their high antiquity, as well as general respectability. In some of the Gothick constitutions, the sheriffs were elected by the people, but confirmed by the king. The election and appointment were made in this manner: the people chose twelve electors ; those electors nominated three persons to the king; from those three the king selected one, who was the confirmed sheriff.c


The popular elections of the sheriffs, in England, were lost by the people in the reigns of Edward the second and Edward the third; and a new mode of appointment was substituted in their place. In the time of Lord Chancellor Fortescue, the manner of the election of sheriffs was as follows. Every year there met, in the court of exchequer, all the king's counsellors, as well lords spiritual and temporal, as all other the king's justices, all the barons of the exchequer, the master of the rolls, and certain other officers. All these, by common consent, nominated of every county three persons of distinction, such as they deemed best qualified for the office of sheriff, and presented them to the king. Of the persons so nominated and returned, the king made choice of one, who, by virtue of the king's letters patent, was constituted high sheriff of that county, for which he was so chosen. This mode of nomination and appointment still continues in England. f


It has been usual to appoint them annually. But in the reign of Henry the fifth, we find from this custom a

b 2. Hen. 245.

e Fort. de laud. c. 24.

1. Bl. Com. 340.

d 4. Bl. Com. 420.

f Wood. 70.

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parliamentary exception, rendered very remarkable by the reason assigned for it. The king is permitted to appoint sheriffs for four years; "because by wars and pestilence there are not a sufficient number remaining, in the different counties, to discharge this office from year to year."

By a parliamentary regulation made in the reign of Edward the second, and repeated in that of Edward the third, it was directed that sheriffs should be chosen from such persons as had lands in their shires; and that those lands should be sufficient to answer to the king and his people, if grieved.


Bar. on St. 386.

By a law of the United States, a marshal is appointed for each district for the term of four years; but is removable from his office at pleasure. As no particular mode is specified by the law for appointing the marshal, his appointment falls, of course, under the general provision made by the national constitution. The president nominates, and, with the advice and consent of the senate, appoints him. His powers and his duties are, in general, coincident with those of a sheriff. k

h 2. Reev. 78.

j Art. 2. s. 2.

i Laws. U. S. 1. công. 1.sess. c. 20. S. 27.

k "The marshals of the several districts, and their deputies, shall have the same powers in executing the laws of the United States, as sheriffs and their deputies, in the several states, have by law, in executing the laws of the respective states." Laws U.S. 3. cong. 2. sess. c. 101. s. 9. The same provision was contained in a prior law, repealed by that above cited. Laws U. S. 2. cong. 1. sess. c. 28. s. 9. Ed.

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By the constitution of Pennsylvania,' sheriffs are chosen by the citizens of each county: two persons are chosen for the office; one of the two is appointed by the governour. We observe, here, another instance of the old Saxon and German customs revived in the constitution of this commonwealth.

Our sheriffs are élected and hold their offices for three years, if they behave themselves well; but no person shall be twice chosen or appointed sheriff in any term of six years. The converse of this regulation we find in an act of parliament-No man, who has served the office of sheriff for one year, can be compelled to serve it again within three years afterwards. m The reason of this converse regulation may be collected from another act of parliament. The expense which custom had introduced in serving the office of high sheriff became so burthensome, that it was enacted, that no sheriff should keep any table at the assizes, except for his own family, or give any presents to the judges or their servants, or have more than forty men in livery: yet, for the sake of safety and decency, he may not have less than twenty men in England and twelve in Wales."

An attention to the powers and duties of the sheriff will disclose, I think, a peculiar propriety in the compound mode of election and appointment, directed by our constitution. He executes the process of courts, and, in his county, is the principal conservator of the peace: so far he is an executive officer, and should be appointed by the governour. He returns jurors: for this reason, he

1 Art. 6. s. 1.

n St. 13 and 14. C. 2. c. 21. 1. Bl. Com. 346.

m St. 1. R. 2. c. 11. 1. Bl. Com. 343.

should be chosen by the people. Invested with the double character, he should receive his authority partly from both. As he is elected and appointed for three years, and can serve only once in the period of six years; he is, in a considerable degree, independent, and may, therefore, be presumed impartial in the exercise of his very important duties and powers. Those duties and powers we are now concisely to describe.

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The judicial power of the sheriff, which, in former times, was very great and extensive, is, by our juridical system, transferred, with great propriety, to other establishments: for it is obviously incongruous, that execu tive and judicial authority should be united in the same person.

-Permit me here to observe, that the accumulation of unnecessary and even inconsistent powers seems to be the principal objection against the old Saxon institutions. In most other respects, they are not more venerable on account of their antiquity, than on account of their matured excellence. Permit mé also here to observe, that, in the correct distribution of the powers of government, the constitution of Pennsylvania approaches, if it does not reach, theoretick perfection.

The ministerial power of the sheriff is of great importance to the impartial administration of justice, and to the internal peace and tranquillity of the commonwealth. He is the chief officer, says my Lord Coke, within the shire. To his custody the county is committed. This custody is three-fold. 1. Of the life of justice; for no suit begins, and no process is served, but by the sheriff. It belongs to him also to return indifferent juries, for the


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trials of men's properties, liberties, and lives. 2. Of the life of the law; for, after suits long and chargeable, he makes execution, which is the life and fruit of the law. 3. Of the life of the republick; for, within the county, he is the principal conservator of the peace, which is the life of the commonwealth..

With regard to process issuing from the courts of Justice, the sheriff's power and duty is, to execute it, not to dispute its validity: though the writ be illegal, the sheriff is protected and indemnified in serving it. P From this general rule, however, one exception must be taken and allowed. He must judge, at his peril, whether the court, from which the process issued, has or has not jurisdiction of the cause.

The selection and the return of jurors is a most momentous part of the power and duty of a sheriff. It is that part, in which abuses are most fatal: it is that part, in which there is the greatest opportunity and temptation to commit them. Let us speak of former times. In the reign of Edward the first, the parliament was obliged to interpose its authority to give relief to the people against sheriffs, who harassed jurors unnecessarily, by summoning them from a great distance, and who returned such as would not give an impartial verdict. This last abuse, says a modern writer on the English law, was never perfectly removed till the late act was made for balloting juries. In an account of Cornwall, written by Mr. Carew, we are informed, that, in the reign of Henry the seventh, an article of charge for the


• 1. Ins. 168, a.

a 10. Rep. 76. 2. Wil. 384.

P 6. Rep. 54. 9. Rep. 68,

r Bar. on St. 185.

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