« ForrigeFortsett »
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H. OF R.
The engrossed bill to authorize the people of That, in reference to the conduct of William P. the Territory of Missouri to form a constitution Van Ness, Esq., judge of the southern district of New and State government, and for the admission of York, the committee have endeavored, by the examsuch State into the Union on an equal footing ination of voluminous documents and of a number of with the original Slates, was read the third time witnesses, to arrive at a knowledge of the transactions and passed.
to which their attention was necessarily directed by Amessage from the Senate informed the House the repor
the report of the Judiciary Committee made to this that the Senate have passed bills of the following
House on the 5th day of March last. That report litles, to wit: An act for the relief of Pierre
stated that $117,307 01 of the funds of the district
court of the southern district of New York was unacDennis de la Ronde ; an act for the relief of Rees
counted for by Theron Rudd, the late clerk thereof, Hill; an act for the relief of Gabriel Godfroy; 1. an act for the relies of Nathan Ford ; an act for lioined. As the resolution under which this com
Godtroy; and that it has been most grossly and nefariously porthe relief of David Henley; an act for the relief mittee was appointed emanated from the Judiciary of the heirs and legal representatives of Nicholas Committee, it became the first object of inquiry to Vreeland, deceased ; an act to authorize William ascertain how far Judge Van Ness was implicated in Prout to institute a bill in equity before the cir- the misconduct of the clerk. After a diligent exam-. cuit court for the District of Columbia, against ination, no evidence has been discovered to establish the Commissioner of the Public Buildings, and any participation by Judge Van Ness in the embezzleto direct a defence therein; an act authorizing ment of the funds of the court; nor does it appear tbe purchase of live oak timber for naval purpo- that he has received any of those funds, or derived ses; and an act to regulate the pay of the army any benefit from them. That there was, however, whed employed on fatigue duty; in which bills a remissness on the part of Judge Van Ness, a want they ask the concurrence of the House.
of constant vigilance of the money of the court, and
of rigor in enforcing the provisions of the law and the COASTING TRADE.
rules of court, will, in the opinion of your committee, The bill from the Senate, “supplementary to appear from a statement of the facts. Rules had ex. the acts concerning the coasting trade," which isted in the court from the 1st day of November, 1811, had been referred to the Committee of Ways and requiring the clerk to keep a distinct account in the
bank where the court moneys were deposited, as clerk Means, was reported by Mr. Smith, of Maryland,
of the court, subject to the inspection of the judge without amendment. (This bill proposes lo divide
and the district attorney, and forbidding the withthe seacoast and rivers therein into four districts,
ficts, drawing any such money from the bank without an as beretofore stated in detail.]
order signed by the clerk and countersigned by the Mr. SILSBEE moved an amendment to the judge, stating the title of the cause, and the party to bill, which proposed, in effect, to divide the whom the same was to be paid. Soon after Judge seacoast of the United States into two districts, Van Ness took his seat on tho bench, he repealed that instead of four, as contemplated by the bill ; the part of the rule requiring his signature; the reasons first district to extend from the eastern limits for which, as assigned by Judge Van Ness on a former of the United States to the southern limits of occasion, were, that the clerk was the responsible and the State of Georgia; the second district from accountable officer, in whose custody the law placed the river Perdido to the western limits of the the funds of the court; and that the check contemUnited States.
plated by the rule would give great and unnecessary This motion gave rise to a discussion of the trouble to the judge in adjusting the claims of indivimerits of the bill, as well as of the particular duals, and to the suitors who might apply to him proposition; in which Messrs. SilsbeĖ, Smith, during the vacations, at his residence, one hundred of Maryland. ORR. LIVERMORE. and WHITMAN and thirty miles from New York. The committee, took part; and the debate had proceeded for some
however, think that, in most cases, the claims of time, when
suitors must have been ascertained in the judgment
of the court; and to them it appears that, although Mr. TRIMBLE, to give further time for consid
the rule may have been originally adopted on a speering a proposition so important in its character,
cial occasion, yet the object of security to the funds moved to lay the bill on the table; which motion
was so great as to supersede all considerations of inprevailed, and the bill was laid on the table.
convenience, and to require its continuance. The DISTRICT JUDGES.
rule subjecting the clerk's account to the inspection of
the judge and the district attorney was also so modified Mr. SPENCER, from the committee appointed by Judge Van Ness as to confine the right to the on the tenth day of April last, to inquire into the judges only. official conduct of William P. Van Ness, judge It had been one of the rules of the court, and was of the southern district of New York, of Matthias adopted by Judge Van Ness, that the clerk should B. Tallmadge, judge of the northern district of exhibit to the court on the first day of each August New York, and of William Stephens, judge of and February term a full account of all the moneys the district of Georgia, made a report on the case in his hands, or standing to his credit as clerk, to be of Judge Van Ness; which was read, and ordered examined by the court or a judge, and to be filed in to lie on the table.
the office of the clerk of the northern district. From Mr. S., from the same committee, also made the certificate of the clerk of the southern district, it a report, in part, on the case of Judge Tallmadge; appears that no such account has ever been ren. which was read, and ordered to lie on the table. dered. His certificate embraces a portion of time in The reports are as follows:
which Judge Tallmadge presided in the southern dis15th Con. 2d SESS.-39
H. OF R.
trict, and the whole time when Theron Rudd was him in the custody of a sheriff by virtue of an execuclerk.
tion issued out of one of the Stato courts of the State An old act of Congress requires the clerks of dig.of New York, and had therefore committed him to the trict courts to give bonds in the sum of $2,000 for the common jail
Sum of $2.000 for the common jail of the county where he had found him. faithful discharge of their duties. Although this sum
| Further proceedings on the attachment were disconis altogether inadequate to the security of such large
tinued by direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, amounts as were paid into the district court of New
who instructed the district attorney to proceed by acYork during the time Theron Rudd was clerk, yet
tion against the clerk. The great delay in these pro. the hazard of losing even that amount would induce ceedings is apparent, and it cannot be ascribed wholly some watchfulness on the part of the clerk's sureties,
to the district attorney, as the law seems to have made Theron Rudd had been clerk of the district of New it the special duty of the judge to cause the money to York some time previous to the act dividing the State | be deposited according to its provisions. into two districts, which passed 9th April, 1814, and, According to the fair import, if not to the letter of pursuant to that division, on the 11th April, 1814, he the act of April 18, 1814, it became the duty of every was appointed clerk of the southern district. From court of the United States to designate a bank where the certificates of the clerk of that district, and of the its money should be deposited, if there should be any northern district, it appears that there has not been incorporated bank within the judicial district. On the
filed, in either of their offices, any bond by Theron 3d August, 1814, Judge Van Ness made a rule that Rudd for the faithful discharge of his duties as clerk all moneys which should thereafter be paid into his of the southern district. The omission is the more court should be paid to the clerk, who should deposite remarkable as Mr. Rudd had previously given several the same to his credit in some bank or banks to the bonds as clerk, under various reappointments, after north of the highlands, in the State of New York, having been removed.
until the further order of the court. The reason given It appears from the statements of the honorable
for this rule was, the apprehension of danger from Mr. Daggett and the honorable Mr. Hunter, of the
invasion by the enemy. Your committeo do not perSenate, that so late as the last of February, 1817,
ceive how that reason could operate to prevent the Judge Van Ness appeared to be ignorant of the per
designation of some certain bank or banks. The re. ilous condition of the funds of the court, at a time P
port of the Judiciary Committee, made at the last seswhen apprehensions were entertained by several gen-10,
sion, states the inability of that committee to prosecute tlemen of the city of New York, who had communis | its inquiries, from a want of knowing the particular cated them to their friends in Congress. Judge Van bank where the money was deposited. It is obvious Ness appeared beforo the Judiciary Committee of the that the omission of such a designation removed a Senate on the 1st March, 1817, and stated his objec
considerable check, upon the improper disposition of tions to the passage of a bill then pending before that
the funds by the clerk. The committee cannot discommittee, and which afterwards became a law, by
cover any satisfactory reason to account for the money which moneys in the courts of the United States were
being suffered to remain in that situation for two years directed to be deposited within sixty days from the 3d
after the peace was known in this country, or for its of March, 1817, in the office of the Bank of the United
not being deposited in some bank in the city of New States, when there should be one within the district,
York. and requiring the signature of the judge to an order
The report which this committee have already made for the payment of such moneys. The objections respecting the omcia,
respecting the official conduct of Judge Tallmadge were substantially the same as the reasons urged for
for will exhibit the courts held by Judge Van Ness, in the the repeal of the rule before mentioned, viz: that it northern district, during the time he received an addiwould be unnecessary, and would give much trouble.
tional allowance for his services in that district. Those He assured the committee of the Senate that the money
services do not appear to have been so great as Conwas perfectly safe ; that it was in the Middle District gress expected. With regard to the southern district, Bank, north of the highlands, where it had been carried
Judge Van Ness appears to have given great attention from apprehensions of danger during the war; that
10 its business. He has held all the stated terms of the bank was respectable, and the clerk was respon
that district, excepting two, which have occurred since sible under his bond; and that it became his duty to his appointment, and he has also held many long and see to the security of the money. The law passed. J arduous special terms. making it the duty of the judges of the different courts There have been complaints against some decisions to cause the payment of the money, as before stated, and orders of Judge Van Ness. But the respect which and directing that any officer refusing or neglecting to this committee entertain for the Constitutional rights make such payment should be proceeded against by of a judge, and for the laws, which provide adequate attachment for contempt. On the 30th April, 1817, remedies for any errors he may commit, forbids their a rule was entered by Judge Van Ness, directing the questioning any judicial opinions. clerk to pay over the moneys of the court, according One instance, however, appears, from the papers to the provisions of the law, within sixty days from they have examined, to partake more of the ministethe 31 day of March then last. On the 16th day of rial than judicial character. It was the case of a cargo June, 1817, an order was entered for an attachment which was a prize to the privateer Tickler, which had against Theron Rudd for not complying with the rule been sold, and the money brought into court. The of the 30th April. A copy of an attachment is fur.judge authorized the clerk' to draw out the money, exnished the committee, dated the 30th day of June. It ceeding $145,000, and to pay it over to the claimants, appears from a rule of the court, entered on the 23d instead of directing the payment to be made to the day of June, that the clerk had then absconded. On claimants immediately; and he ordered the duties and the 8th January, 1818, Thomas Morris, the marshal the two per centum belonging to the navy ponsion of the district, returned that, by virtue of several writs fund, exceeding $15,000, to be paid to the clerk, who of attachment, he had arrested Theron Rudd, but found was to pay it over to the collector, whenever tho court