Hudson & Smith v. Guestier - 10 U.S. 281 (1810)
U.S. Supreme Court
Hudson & Smith v. Guestier, 10 U.S. 6 Cranch 281 281 (1810)
Hudson & Smith v. Guestier
10 U.S. (6 Cranch) 281
The jurisdiction of the French courts as to seizures is not confined to seizures made within two leagues of the coast.
A seizure beyond the limits of the territorial jurisdiction for breach of a municipal regulation is warranted by the law of nations.
When the reversal is in favor of the defendant upon a bill of exceptions, a new trial must be awarded by the court below.
Error to the Circuit Court for the District of Maryland in an action of trover for coffee and logwood, the cargo of the brig Sea Flower, which had been captured by the French for trading to the revolted ports of the Island of Hispaniola contrary to the ordinances of France and carried into the Spanish port of Baracoa, but condemned by a French tribunal at Guadaloupe, and sold for the benefit of the captors and purchased by the defendant Guestier.
Upon the former trial of this case in the court below, a statement of certain facts was agreed to by the counsel for the parties and read in evidence to the jury, which then found a verdict for the plaintiffs. One of the facts so admitted, and which was then deemed wholly immaterial by both parties, was that the Sea Flower was captured within one league of the coast of the Island of Hispaniola. Upon this fact, which was the only fact in which this case differed from that of Rose v. Himely, 8 U. S. 241, the Supreme Court reversed the first judgment of the court below, see ante, 8 U. S. 8 U.S. 293, which had been for the plaintiffs, and remanded the cause for further proceedings.
Upon the second trial in the court below, the verdict and judgment were for the defendant.
The plaintiffs took a bill of exceptions to the opinion of the court, who directed the jury
"That if it finds from the evidence produced that the brig Sea Flower had traded with the insurgents at Port au Prince in the Island of St. Domingo, and had there purchased a cargo of coffee and logwood, and, having cleared at the said port and coming from the same, was captured by a French privateer, duly commissioned as such, within six leagues of the Island of St. Heneague, a dependency of St. Domingo, for a breach of said municipal regulations, that in such case the capture of the Sea Flower was legal, although such capture was made at the distance of six leagues from the said Island of St. Domingo, or St. Heneague, its dependency, and beyond the territorial limits or jurisdiction of said island, and that the said capture, possession, subsequent condemnation, and sale of the said Sea Flower, with her cargo, divested the said cargo out of the plaintiffs, and the property therein became vested in the purchaser. "