La Nereyda - 21 U.S. 108 (1823)
U.S. Supreme Court
La Nereyda, 21 U.S. 8 Wheat. 108 108 (1823)
21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 108
Quaere whether a regular sentence of condemnation in a court of the captor, or his ally, the captured property having been carried infra praesidia, will preclude the courts of this country from restoring it to the original owners, where the capture was made in violation of our laws, treaties, and neutral obligations?
Whoever claims under such a condemnation must show that he is a bonae fidei purchaser for a valuable consideration, unaffected with any participation in the violation of our neutrality by the captors.
Whoever sets up a title under any condemnation as prize is bound to produce the libel or other equivalent proceeding under which the condemnation was pronounced, as well as the sentence of condemnation itself.
Where an order for further proof is made and the party disobeys or neglects to comply with its injunctions, courts of prize generally consider such disobediencey or neglect as fatal to his claim.
Upon such an order, it is almost the invariable practice for the claimant (besides other testimony) to make proof by his own oath of his proprietary interest, and to explain the other circumstances of the transaction, and the absence of such proof and explanation always leads to considerable doubts.
Quaere whether a condemnation in the court of an ally of property carried into his ports by a co-belligerent is valid?
This was an allegation filed by the Spanish consul against the brig Nereyda, a public vessel of war belonging to the King of Spain, stating that the vessel had been captured by the privateer Irresistible, John O. Daniels, master, in violation of the laws, treaties, and neutral obligations of the United States. The claim given in by Henry Child, as agent in behalf of the claimant, Antonio Julio Francesche, set up a title in him acquired under a sale in pursuance of a sentence of condemnation, as prize to the captors, pronounced by the Vice-Admiralty Court at Juan Griego, in the Island of Margaritta, in Venezuela. The capture was made under an alleged commission from Jose Artegas, chief of the Oriental Republic of Rio de la Plata, and the prize carried into Juan Griego, as to a port of an ally in the war for adjudication. The capturing vessel was built, owned, armed, and equipped in the port of Baltimore, and having provided herself with the commission, sailed from that port on a cruise, and captured the Nereyda at sea, in the year 1818. The sentence of condemnation was pronounced, and the alleged sale took place in March, 1819, and the name of the captured vessel having been changed to that of El Congresso de Venezuela, and a commission obtained for her as a privateer from the government of Venezuela, she set sail for Baltimore
under the command of Henry Childs, who was the original prize master, where she arrived, and was libeled as before stated. It appeared in evidence that the vessel had continued from the time of the capture under the direction and control of Daniels and Childs, both of whom were citizens of the United States, and domiciled at Baltimore. No bill of sale to Francesche was produced, and no other evidence of his purchase, except a certificate from the auctioneer. A decree of restitution to the claimant was pronounced in the district court, which was affirmed pro forma in the circuit court, and the cause was brought by appeal to this Court.