The Samuel - 14 U.S. 9 (1816)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Samuel, 14 U.S. 1 Wheat. 9 9 (1816)
14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 9
Where, in an admiralty cause, on a seizure, the evidence is so Contradictory or ambiguous that the Supreme Court finds a decision difficult, it will order the cause to further proof.
A libel on a seizure in the admiralty in its terms and in its essence, is an information, and the word "information" is not exclusively applicable to common law proceedings.
That the deponent is a seaman on board a gunboat in a certain harbor, and liable to be ordered to some other place and not to be able to attend the court at the time of its sitting, is not a sufficient reason for taking his deposition de bene esse under the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20, s. 30.
In such a case, the proper course is to apply to the court for a commission.
And even if the deposition might lawfully be taken in such a case without applying to the court for its aid, still the deposition is taken de bene esse, not in chief, and a deposition so taken can be read only when the witness himself is unattainable.
If such a deposition be offered before or at the time of trial and used in the court below without objection, this Court may infer that the requisites of the law in respect to proof of the absence of the witness were complied with or waived.
But its being filed after the trial by order of the court below will not justify such an inference. The party is not necessarily in court after his cause is decided, and is not bound to know the fact that a deposition is thus ordered to be filed.
The brig Samuel sailed from St. Bartholomews, an island belonging to his Majesty the King of Sweden, in the month of November, 1811, with a cargo consisting of rum, molasses, and some other articles, and arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, on the 8th of the following December, where the vessel and cargo were seized and libeled in the district court as being forfeited to the United States under the act of Congress prohibiting the importation
of articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of Great Britain or France, their colonies or dependencies. The vessel and cargo were claimed by John Pierce and George Beach, both citizens of the United States. The district court condemned both vessel and cargo. The circuit court condemned the vessel and the rum, but restored the residue of the cargo. From the sentence of the circuit court both the libellants and the claimants appealed to this Court.