« PreviousContinue »
“To Viscount Melbourne. “My Lord,—The royal courts of Jersey and Guernsey having received an order of His Majesty in council to register the acts of parliament relating to the habeas corpus of 31 Charles II., and 56 Geo. III., and having thought it their duty to suspend the registry of those acts until the humble representations of the states of those islands should be heard, the undersigned deputies do now respectfully submit those representations to the consideration of His Majesty's government.
By the constitution of King John, the royal courts are invested with most extensive powers, even to the passing and executing sentence of death, without appeal to the crown ; ercept treason, false coining, and laying violent hands on the bailiff or jurats whilst exercising their judicial duties. All the royal charters are equally explicit. That of Queen Elizabeth which confirmed previous grants, and again confirmed by Charles II., and James II., (the latter granted since the passing the Habeas Corpus Act), invests the bailiff and jurats with full power to have cognizance and jurisdiction of all sorts of pleas, suits, actions, and causes arising within the island, whether real, personal, mixed, criminal or capital, and not elsewhere. That no inhabitant shall be cited or summoned, or forced to leave the island, by any writ or process issued by any of the courts in England, but that they may safely abide therein, without fine, contempt, or otherwise; that all suits between the islanders, or wherein one of the parties was an islander, for matters arising within the island, should be there heard and determined, subject to an appeal to his Majesty in council. (Signed) John DE VEULLE,
Bailiff of Jersey,
Bailiff of Guernsey.
Deputies of Guernsey. King's Procureur. Nothing then can be more clear, than that the jurisdiction of the island, wherein-to hear and determine suits, is confined solely to causes arising within it. But let it not be understood, that because the crown came to a compromise as to the release of Capes from Guernsey, that it has not the power at this moment to enforce obedience to a writ of habeas corpus,—the reason was, that the two paupers in question were children of soldiers, and could obtain no legal settlement there.
Lord Coke has determined the question for ever; and upon his
authority have all acts of parliament, in which the island is specially named, been declared law. By a minute of the lords of the privy council, dated 28th April, 1806, it appears to have been the opinion of the law officers of the crown, that His Majesty's subjects in the islands of Jersey and Guernsey are bound to take notice of every act of the British parliament, wherein they are specially named, although no registration thereof shall have taken place.
I am, Sir, yours,
J. B. ART How can the bailiff reconcile his conduct as legislator and
judge? In the former capacity he declares that the court has not cognizance of causes arising out of the island; whilst in the latter, he decides that it has ;-see the cases of Capt. Collins, Mr. Boustead, and numerous others. We think that Sir John owes it to unfortunate debtors, to explain himself on this head ; for the same law which he propounded to Lord Melbourne, ought to be administered in the royal court.-Editor,
[ No. 4.] To the Editor of the Jersey News.— June 30, 1842. Sır,-Much has been stated, that the islands are independent of every other jurisdiction, and that they owe that enviable state to certain constitutions and charters of King John, which have from time to time been confirmed by subsequent Kings and Queens, and parti. cularly by Queen Elizabeth. I have waited, since the publication of my last letter to you on this subject, to see if the upholders of the present mal-administration of the laws, had anything to say on the enforcing judgments obtained in England, and whether it was disputed, that they had represented to Lord Melbourne, in 1832, that they were not liable to answer elsewhere, and that they had jurisdic. tion over causes solely arising within the island, they have, however, remained silent on the point, and I take it for granted that Sir John De Veulle, will sooner or later, have the common honesty and justice to acknowledge, that with all other causes he has nothing to do, and that he will immediately liberate the unfortunate and ill-used Captain Collins, now suffering unjust imprisonment.
Since the subject is become of manifest importance, let us take the pains to go back as far as the commissioners' report in 1811, as well also, that of an ancient writer in the reign of King Charles II., and
see what were the opinions then formed between two such distinct periods, and ask ourselves, what is it that subsequent Kings and Queens have confirmed ?
The latter says—"Let me describe this document. It is a mere list or schedule of sundry and promiscuous articles of polity and regulation. It bears on the face of it, no form, formality and style, equally characterising charters, statutes or institutes. It is headed or prescribed, 'constitutions and provisions constituted by the Lord John, the King,' after Normandy was alienated, but the people for whom they were intended, are not named; the place of emanation is not stated, nor is the date given. The King's signature is not to it, neither is that of any councillor, secretary, or functionary, to authenticate it. No seal is appended or affixed to it, nor any other mark whatever, to give it the force of law. It is not addressed to any authorities whatever, in or out of the islands. The original charter is not extant, nor is it known ever to have had birth-it bears the appearance of a compilation more than anything else, and at an epoch certainly posterior to King John's death-it is a sort of memorandum of an uncertain tradition.”
The commissioners, in their report of the manner of electing jurats, say—“That before the reign of King John, there are neither documents nor tradition to show what was the constitution of Jersey, farther than that it was part of the duchy of Normandy. After the alienation of the rest of that duchy from the crown of England, certain constitutions and provisions were made for the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, and jurisdiction was given to them (the Jurats) in the absence of the King's justices itinerant, together with those justices when they were present, over nearly all causes arising in the respective Islands."
What, sir, must the public think of the representations made to Lord Melbourne in 1832, in answer to the order for registering the Habeas Corpus Act? It must be apparent to every one, that under the charter of King John (which exists in name only) the jurats never, in the annals of history, possessed jurisdiction over causes arising out of the island, &c.; the more you sift this matter, the more certain is it, that Capt. Collins is wrongfully deprived of his liberty, which, by the farce the royal court is playing, in postponing the day for hearing witnesses from England, may be further postponed for the next three years. I am, Sir, yours,
[No. 5.) To the Editor of the Jersey News—July 9, 1842. Sir-I now come to the Habeas Corpus Acts, and in recurring to the representations made to Lord Melbourne, in 1832, in answer to the writ of habeas issued by Lord Tenterden, and directed to the authorities of Guernsey, in Capes' case, let us take an additional review of these representations of Sir John de Veulle and Mr. Dupré, and it will be seen how jesuitically the subject was treated, and how the statute of 56 Geo. 3, “ for more effectually securing the liberty of the subject," was attempted to be passed over.
“ All our charters (say they) were again confirmed by Charles II. and by James II.; the latter (granted since the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act) invests the bailiff and jurats with full power over all matters arising within the island. If a judge should issue a writ of habeas corpus cum causa, the defendant might, though certainly with difficulty, be brought up, and the cause removed to a court appointed ? But if no mandate to the other party_if no subpæna to the witnesses would be of any avail, the ends of justice would be defeated.
Every one knows that a subpæna issuing from any of the courts of Westminster would be of no avail, if served on a witness in Jersey. But would a habeas, backed by the present Chief Justice Denman, share a similar fate? A habeas directing the removal of the body of Capt. Collins, particularly in a cause arising out of the island, must be obeyed. The bailiff dare not refuse executing the writ.
What say they in their representations to Lord Melbourne about the above act of 56 Geo. III., directed to the islands for securing the liberty of the subject ? Not one word, further than that James II., after the passing of 31 Chas. II., called the Habeas Corpus Act, confirmed all their privileges, without being compelled to answer in the courts at Westminster. This is no answer to the order in council of June 11, 1832, which directs the courts of Jersey and Guernsey to register the 56 Geo. III.; and although it was not acted on in Capes' case in 1832, on account of the pauper's not having obtained a legal settlement, it is still the law of the land, and can be enforced in either of the islands.
Lord Coke holds it to be an indisputable axiom in law, that where the islands are specially named in any act of the British parliament, it is their bounden duty to obey it, although there has been no registration at all.
Are the two responsible advisers of the crown, Mr. Le Breton and Mr. Dupré, so ignorant of the laws that govern them, and so lost to the welfare of the islands, as not to advise the lieut.-governor and the bailiff, that by 7 & 8 William III., c. 22, it is enacted, “ That all laws, by-laws, usages, and customs, which shall be in practice in any of the possessions of the crown, repugnant to any law MADR or TO BE MADE in England, relative to the said possessions, SHALL BE UTTERLY VOID AND OF NO EFFECT?".
What, then, can bemore clear, than that this statute being both retrospective as well as prospective, has reference to the times of Charles and James, as also to George the Third. I should like to know where the defenders of those obsolete customs and usages called Jersey laws, can go for an answer to these facts-facts which will stand the test of inquiry, whenever it comes. The enforcement of arrest for debt, on the person, as well for causes arising within or without the island, under an ordre provisoire, whilst the debtor has effects, down to trial and proof, is illegal, degrading, and barbarous.
That men laying claim to reason and common sense, who sit as judges in the royal court, should, from week to week, arrive at such incongruous, absurd, and unjust decisions as they do, is to reflecting minds a matter of surprise and regret, and that they should incarcerate a man for an indefinite period, who has already suffered two years' unjust imprisonment, under the sham plea of summoning witnesses from England, to give evidence against him, is a case which ought to resound from one part of the kingdom to the other ; and all men who prize their liberty should be invoked in bringing Capt. Collins's case before parliament.
To those respectable and intelligent individuals who have withdrawn from the Mechanics' Institute, and formed themselves into a British Association, I would say—continue to uphold an editor who has had the courage to denounce and expose the bondage under which his countrymen are suffering, and they will have the support of all honest men on this side the water, who abhor the practices of barbarism in an enlightened age.
Already has a warrant from the county of Somerset been executed in Jersey, and an alleged murderer apprehended, although Jurat Edward Nicolle, on being applied to, stated, he did not think the instrument legal, and could not be served in the island, without a breach of its privileges. If a warrant can be served, why not a writ of habeas corpus ? It was tolerably clear, that the attorney-general, on being applied to by Capt. Inman, did not like the business, for he shuffled the question, when in court, and tacitly allowed the warrant to be executed.
This is only the beginning of things ; for I think I may safely prognosticate that the insult offered to the government by Judges