Annotate this Case
16 U.S. 435 (1818)
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U.S. Supreme Court
The Anne, 16 U.S. 3 Wheat. 435 435 (1818)
16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 435
The captors are competent witnesses upon an order for further proof, where the benefit of it is extended to both parties.
The captors are always competent witnesses as to the circumstances of the capture, whether it be joint, collusive, or within neutral territory.
It is not competent for a neutral consul, without the special authority of his government, to interpose a claim on account of the violation of the territorial jurisdiction of his country.
Quaere whether such a claim can be interposed even by a public minister without the sanction of the government in whose tribunals the cause is pending?
A capture made within neutral territory is, as between the belligerents, rightful, and its validity can only be questioned by the neutral state.
If the captured vessel commence hostilities upon the captor, she forfeits the neutral protection, and the capture is not an injury for which redress can be sought from the neutral sovereign.
Irregularities on the part of the captors, originating from mere mistake or negligence, which work no irreparable mischief and are consistent with good faith will not forfeit their rights of prize.
The British ship Anne, with a cargo belonging to a British subject, was captured by the privateer Ultor, while lying at anchor near the Spanish part of the Island of St. Domingo on 13 March, 1815, and carried into New York for adjudication. The master and supercargo were put on shore at St. Domingo, and all the rest of the crew, except the mate, carpenter, and cook, were put on board the capturing ship. After arrival at New York, the deposition of the cook only was taken before a commissioner of prize, and that, together with the ship's papers, was transmitted by the commissioner under seal to the District Judge of Maryland District, to which district the Anne was removed by virtue of the provisions of the Act of Congress of 27 January, 1813, ch. 478.
Prize proceedings were duly instituted against the ship and cargo, and a claim was afterwards interposed in behalf of the Spanish consul, claiming restitution of the property, on account of an asserted violation of the neutral territory of Spain. The testimony of the carpenter was thereupon taken by the claimant, and the captors were also admitted to give testimony as to the circumstances of the capture, and upon the whole evidence the district court rejected the claim and pronounced a sentence of condemnation to the captors. Upon appeal to the circuit court, peace having taken place, the British owner, Mr. Richard Scott, interposed a claim for the property, and the decree of the district court was affirmed, pro forma, to bring the cause for a final adjudication before this Court.