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rules of proceeding, as well as into the rights and powers of the House of Commons in their impeachments.
RELATION OF THE JUDGES, &c. TO THE COURT OF
PARLIAMENT. Upon examining into the course of proceeding in the House of Lords, and into the relation which exists between the peers on the one hand, and their attendants and assistants, --the judges of the realm, barons of the exchequer of the coif, the king's learned counsel, and the civilians masters of the chancery, on the other ; it appears to your committee, that these judges, and other persons learned in the common and civil laws, are no integrant and necessary part of that court. Their writs of summons are essentially different ; and it does not appear that they or any of them have, or of right ought to have, a deliberative voice, either actually or virtually, in the judgments given in the high court of parliament. Their attendance in that court is solely ministerial; and their answers to questions put to them, are not to be regarded as declaratory of the law of parliament, but are merely consultory responses, in order to furnish such matter (to be submitted to the judgment of the peers) as may be useful in reasoning by analogy, so far as the nature of the rules, in the respective courts of the learned persons consulted, shall appear to the House to be applicable to the nature and circumstance of the case before them, and no otherwise.
JURISDICTION OF THE LORDS. Your committee finds, That in all impeachments of the Commons of Great Britain for high crimes and misdemeanours, before the peers in the high court of parliament, the peers are not triers or jurors only, but by the antient laws and constitution of this kingdom, known by constant usage, are judges both of law and fact; and we conceive that the lords are bound not to act in such a manner as to give rise to an opinion, that they have virtually submitted to a division of their legal powers; or that, putting themselves into the situation of mere triers or jurors, they may suffer the
evidence in the cause to be produced or not produced before them, according to the discretion of the judges of the inferiour courts.
LAW OF PARLIAMENT. Your committee finds, that the lords, in matter of appeal or impeachment in parliament, are not of right obliged to proceed according to the course or rules of the Roman civil law, or by those of the law or usage of any of the inferiour courts in Westminister Hall; but by the law and usage of parliament. And your committee finds, that this has been declared in the most clear and explicit manner, by the House of Lords, in the year of our Lord 1387 and 1388, in the 11th year of King Richard the Second.
Upon an appeal in parliament then depending, against certain great persons, peers and commoners, the said appeal was referred to the justices and other learned persons of the law; “ At which time” (it is said in the record) “ that the justices and serjeants, and others the learned in the law civil, were charged, by order of the king our sovereign aforesaid, to give their faithful counsel to the lords of the parliament, concerning the due proceedings in the cause of the appeal aforesaid. · The which justices, serjeants, and the learned in the law of the kingdom, and also the learned in the law civil, have taken the same into deliberation ; and have answered to the said lords of parliament, that they had seen and well considered the tenour of the said appeal ; and they say, that the same appeal was neither made nor pleaded according to the order which the one law or the other requires. Upon which the said lords of parliament have taken the same into deliberation and consultation, and by the assent of our said lord the king, and of their common agreement, it was declared, that in so high a crime as that which is charged in this appeal, which touches the person of our lord the king, and the state of the whole kingdom, perpetrated by persons who are peers of the kingdom, along with others, the cause shall not be tried in any other place but in parliament, nor by any other law than the law and course of parliament: and that it belongeth to the lords of
parliament, and to their franchize and liberty by the antiept custom of the parliament, to be judges in such cases; and in these cases to judge by the assent of the king; and thus it shall be done in this case, by the award of parliament : because the realm of England has not been heretofore, nor is it the intention of our said lord the king, and the lords of parliament, that it ever should be governed by the law civil: And also, it is their resolution, not to rule or govern so high a cause as this appeal is, which cannot be tried any where but in parliament, as hath been said before, by the course, process, and order used in any courts or place inferiour, in the same kingdom ; which courts and places are not more than the executors of the antient laws and customs of the kingdom, and of the ordinances and establishments of parliament. It was determined by the said lords of parliament, by the assent of our said lord the king, that this appeal was made and pleaded well and sufficiently, and that the process upon it is good and effectual, according to the law and course of parliament, and for such they decree and adjudge it.”
And your committee finds, that toward the close of the same parliament, the same right was again claimed and admitted as the special privilege of the peers, in the following manner :-“ In this parliament, all the lords then present, spiritual as well as temporal, claimed as their franchize that the weighty matters moved in this parliament, and which shall be moved in other parliaments in future times, touching the peers of the land, shall be managed, adjudged, and discussed by the course of parliament, and in no sort by the law civil, or by the common law of the land, used in the other lower courts of the kingdom, which claim, liberty, and franchize, the king graciously allowed and granted to them in full parliament.”
Your committee finds, that the Commons, having at that time considered the appeal above mentioned, approved the proceedings in it; and, as far as in them lay, added the sanction of their accusation against the persons who were the objects of the appeal. They also, immediately afterwards, impeached all the judges of the common pleas, the
chief baron of the exehequer, and other learned and eminent persons, both peers, and commoners; upon the conclusion of which impeachments it was that the second claim was entered.
In all the transactions aforesaid, the Commons were acting parties : yet neither then, nor ever since, have they made any objection or protestation that the rule laid down by the lords, in the beginning of the session of 1388, ought not to be applied to the impeachments of commoners as well as peers. In many cases they have claimed the benefit of this rule ; and in all cases they have acted, and the peers have determined upon the same general principles. The peers have always supported the same franchizes ; nor are there any precedents upon the records of parliament subverting either the general rule or the particular privilege ; so far as the same relates either to the course of proceeding or to the rule of law, by which the lords are to judge.
Your committee observes also, that in the commissions to the several lords high stewards, who have been appointed on the trials of peers impeached by the Commons, the proceedings are directed to be had according to the law and custom of the kingdom, and the custom of parliament ; which words are not to be found in the commissions for trying upon indictments.
- As every court of justice” (says Lord Coke) “ hath laws and customs for its direction, some by the common law, some by the civil and canon law, some by peculiar laws and customs, &c. So the high court of parliament, suis propriis legibus et consuetudinibus subsistit. It is by the lex et consuetudo parliamenti, that all weighty matters in any parliament moved, concerning the peers of the realm, or Commons in parliament assembled, ought to be determined, adjudged, and discussed by the course of the parliament, and not by the civil law, nor yet by the common laws of this realm used in more inferiour courts.”_And after founding bimself on this very precedent of the 11th of Richard II, he adds, “ This is the reason that judges ought not to give any opinion of a matter of parliament, because it is not to be decided by the common laws, but secundem
legem et consuetudinem parliamenti : And so the judges in divers parliaments have confessed."
RULE OF PLEADING. Your committee do not find, that any rules of pleading, as observed in the inferiour courts, have ever obtained in the proceedings of the high court of parliament, in a cause or matter in which the whole procedure has been within their original jurisdiction. Nor does your committee find, that any demurrer or exception, as of false or erroneous pleading, hath been ever admitted to any impeachment in parliament, as not coming within the form of the pleading; and although a reservation or protest is made by the defendant (matter of form, as we conceive) “ to the generality, uncertainty, and insufficiency of the articles of impeachment ;" yet no objections have in fact been ever made in any part of the record ; and when verbally they have been made (until this trial) they have constantly been over-ruled.
The trial of Lord Strafforde is one of the most important æras in the history of parliamentary judicature. In that trial, and in the dispositions made preparatory to it, the process on impeachments was, on great consideration, research, and selection of precedents, brought very nearly to the form which it retains at this day ; and great and important parts of parliamentary law were then laid down. The Commons at that time made new charges, or amended the old, as they saw occasion. Upon an application from the Commons to the lords, that the examinations taken by their lordships, at their request, might be delivered to them, for the purpose of a more exact specification of the charge they had made, on delivering the message of the Commons, Mr. Pim, amongst other things, said, as it is entered in the lords' journals, “ According to the clause of reservation in the conclusion of their charge, they (the Commons) will add to the charges, not to the matter in respect of comprehension, extent, or kind, but only to reduce them to more particularities, that the earl of Strafforde might answer with the more elearness and expedition—not that they are bound by this way of SPECIAL charge ; and therefore they have taken