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1514 H street NW. On the 24th of July they adopted rules and regulations, which, together with the notice of their next session, were duly published. The court then adjourned to Thursday the 1st of October, in order that claimants might file their memorials and prepare for trial. The rules adopted by the court were as follows:
“RULES OF THE COURT OF COMMISSIONERS OF 'ALABAMA' CLAIMS. “1. The clerk of the court is directed to file of record all claims which may be transmitted to him, and to enter the same on the docket in the order of time in which they may be received.
“Claims transmitted by mail may be addressed to “John Davis, esq., clerk of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims, Washington, D.C.'
“II. All claims must be verified by the affidavit of the claimant, and filed in this court within six months from the 22d day of July 1874.
“III. Every claim shall be stated in a petition addressed to the court, and signed by the claimant or his attorney.
“The petition shall set forth“1st. The title of the case, with the full Christian names and surnames of all the claimants, the places and times of their birth, and the places of their residence between the 13th day of April 1861 and the 9th day of April 1865, both inclusive.
" If any of the claimants be naturalized citizens, an authenticated certificate of their naturalization shall be appended to the petition, and the petition shall also state whether the claimants, or any of them, have been naturalized in any other country than the United States; and if not so naturalized, whether any and what steps have been taken toward being so naturalized.
“2d. A plain and concise statement of the facts and circumstances, giving place and date, free from argument, and stating all assignments and transfers, whether in whole or in part.
“3d. The prayer, in which the claimant shall state distinctly the amount of the actual loss or damage for which he asks judgment, and the date from which he claims interest thereon.
“ The claimant shall also give the post-office address of himself and of his attorney; and may append to his petition, as exhibits, the instruments or documents to which it refers, but shall not insert the same in the body of the petition. Immediately upon the filing of any petition, fifty copies of the same and the accompanying documents shall be printed in octavo form, under the direction of the clerk, for the use of the court and counsel.
“IV. Parties having a common interest, growing out of the destruction of the same vessel or its cargo, may unite in one petition for the recovery of their respective claims, which may be heard together, but separate judgments shall be rendered in the case of each claimant.
“V. Any person of good moral character admitted to practice as attorney or counsel in the supreme court of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, or in any of the Federal courts, on filing with the clerk a written statement of the date and place of such admission, with his name and post-office address in full, may, on motion, be admitted to practice in this court.
“VI. It shall not be necessary for the United States to deny, specially, in writing, the validity of any claim; but a general denial of every claim shall be entered of record by the clerk as of course, and thereby every material allegation shall be considered as put in issue by the United States.
“Objections as to the law of the case may be raised by the United States at any stage of the proceediưgs by demurrer, stating the grounds of such objections with reasonable certainty.
“VII. Testimony to be used in this court may be taken before a commissioner empowered by any circuit or district court of the United States to take testimony, on a rule entered of record in this court for that purpose by either party in any pending case, provided twenty days' notice be
given to the adverse party; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the taking of testimony before any other person, with the leave of this court, nor prevent counsel from accepting, by agreement in writing, a shorter notice than twenty days.
“VIII. It shall be the duty of the counsel of the claimant, at least ten days before the day of hearing, to file with the clerk of the court fifty copies of a brief (printed in octavo form) of the argument in behalf of the claimant.
“IX. Claims supported by printed or written testimony shall be first beard in the order in which they stand on the docket, unless otherwise specifically ordered by the court; and afterward those claims shall be heard in support of wřich the claimant may desire to introduce oral testimony.
" X. In cases where the amount claimed exceeds the sum of one thonsand dollars, the claimant shall be at the expense of printing his own brief and testimony. In cases not exceeding that amount the printing shall be done, under the direction of the clerk of the court, at tho expense of the United States.
“XI. The time to be occupied in the oral arguments of counsel shall be regulated by the rule in force in the Supreme Court of the United States.
"XII. Whenever any deposition or document shall have been filed in any case before this court, either party to any other case may use such testimony on the hearing thereof: Provided, That the party so desiring to use such testimony in a case in which the same was not originally taken shall file a notice in the case in which such testimony is sought to be used five days beforo the hearing thereof of his intention so to do, specifying therein particularly the depositions or documents sought to be used and the case or cases in which the same were originally taken.”
When the judges reconvened they found that, conDelay in Presentation trary to their expectations, very few cases were ready
for trial, or had even been filed. Indeed, only 3 petitions were filed in July, 5 in August, and 64 in September, making in all only 72 when the court reassembled. It was not until October that the number largely increased, and 312 more petitions were filed in January 1875 alone than in the previous five months together. By the 22d of January, on which day the period for the presentation of petitions terminated, 1,382 claims had been filed, and of these 767 were filed during that month. The court remained very constantly in session during the winter of 1874-75, considering amendments to the rules, hearing extended arguments on points of law arising on demarrers, and deciding all claims presented for final hearing. In the preparation of cases however there was great delay, and in order to hasten the dispatch of business the court on the 26th of January 1875 passed an order by which it was directed that the clerk should enter on the trial docket, in their numerical order, all claims in which no decision had been rendered; that this docket should be called three times, but that a greater number than 50 cases should not be called in one day; that at each calling of the docket parties who had not previously been heard would have an opportunity to submit their proofs and arguments; and that on the third calling of the docket every claim should be disposed of by final judgment. On the first calling of the docket it was found that comparatively few claims were ready for final hearing, and the court, after deciding every case that was ready, adjourned until the 28th of April 1875, at the same time publishing an order to the effect that the second calling of the trial docket would be commenced on its reassembling, and that no case would then be passed without the assignment of a sufficient reason for so doing.
During the preceding session the court adopted rules Rules for Taking
to govern the taking of testimony. These rules, with Testimony.
certain explanations which it was afterward found necessary to make, were as follows: “COURT OF COMMISSIONERS OF 'ALABAMA' CLAIMS,
Washington, D, C.,
-, 1875. “Sir: I inclose herewith interrogatories and cross-interrogatories to be used in the examination of
of - in the claim of against the United States, No. “In the examination of this witness, you will be pleased to conform to the following rules.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
“1. You will require the witness to hold up his right hand, and make solemn oath [or if he have conscientious scruples against taking an oath, to affirm] to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth relative to the matters now to be inquired of.
“2. You will allow no person to be present except the witness, unless it be needful for you to employ a third person to write down for you the witness's answers.
"3. You will put each interrogatory, and write down in full the answer thereto, before proceeding to the next succeeding interrogatory. Endeavor to reduce to writing, so far as possible, the exact words of the witness. Should any alteration be necessary, note it over your initials, without making erasure or interlineation.
“4. After the witness has fully answered all the interrogatories, and you have reduced his answers to writing, you will read over to bim each question and his answer thereto, and permit him to make at the end of his deposition such correction as he may desire, and give reason for. He will then sign his deposition, as will you, with your full name and title.
“5. You will begin the deposition as directed in the accompanying form A.
“6. You will add to the deposition a certificate, as per accompanying form B.
“7. Should it be necessary to adjourn the hearing, you will make a note of it in the deposition.
“8. The sheets should be carefully connected, and the interrogatories which you receive with the deposition should be mailed to my address.
“9. You will also sign your name at the bottom of each page of the deposition.
** FORM A.
“The deposition of
taken in the case of claimant, vs. The United States, No. upon written interrogatories filed by the claimant, and cross-interrogatories filed by the United States, at
a duly appointed commissioner, on the day of
1875, to be used in the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims. " FORM B.
a commissioner duly appointed by the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims to take the testimony of
-, to be used in the case of
vs. The United States, before the said court, do hereby certify that on the day of -, 187-, I caused the said
to appear before me at the said and permitted
no other person than himself to be present except
before me; that I administered an oath to said
that he would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth relative to the matters to be inquired of; that his deposition was then reduced to writing by me, [by a clerk appointed by me for that purpose,] and no interrogatory was put to the witness until the previous interrogatory had been answered by him; that the whole deposition was carefully read by him, and that he subscribed the same.
“And I do further certify that I have no interest whatever in any of the claims referred to in this deposition.
“In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this day of
“COURT OF COMMISSIONERS OF 'ALABAMA' CLAIMS,
“1514 H street N. W., Washington, D. C., 187–
“SIR: Owing to a very general misunderstanding as to the manner of taking testimony to be used before this court, I would call your attention to the annexed rules, which must be observed in every case except where a special order of the court is obtained to the contrary. No testimony will be placed on file until all the requirements of these rules shall have been complied with. “I am, sir, your obedient servant,
“JOHN Davis, Clerk.
“RULES. “1. No commissioner shall take testimony except after receipt of a certificate of record of a rule for that purpose, as per inclosed blank.
“2. The certificate must be filled out on the face, and signed by the clerk of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims, and must have the seal of said court attached.
“3. The certificate must show on the back a notice to the counsel on behalf of the United States for the full twenty days required by Rule VII. of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims.
“4. The certificate must show on the back also the acceptance of said notice by said counsel on behalf of the United States.
“5. When testimony is taken in the same case before different commissioners, a certificate must be filed with each coinmissioner.
“6. When the testimony in any case has been filed with the clerk of this court, further testimony may be taken in the same case before the same comunissioner without another certificate; provided a written agreement to that effect is filed with the said commissioner, signed by the assistant counsel of the United States present when the testimony was first taken, and the counsel for the claimant.
“7. After the certificate shall have been obtained, and the counsel on behalf of the United States shall have received and accepted notice for the full twenty days, special agreements in writing may be made by the assistant counsel of the United States in charge of any case, and the counsel of the claimant, changing the date of taking testimony.
“8. The certificate of record and all written agreements of counsel must be forwarded to the clerk of the Court of Commissioners of Alabama Claims with the testimony."
When the court reassembled on the 28th of April, it Extension of Time. was found that a considerable number of cases were
ready for trial. Less than three months now remained of the year within which the business was to be completed. To dispose of all the cases within that time was obviously impossible. The President therefore on the 2d of June 1875 issued, in accordance with act of Congress,
a proclamation extending the duration of the court for a period of six months after the 22d of July, the day on which the first year after its organization expired. Between the 28th of April and the end of October 1875, 643 cases were argued and submitted. Of these, 140 were dismissed for want of jurisdiction, while a large proportion of those allowed were small in amount and presented fow points for discussion; but of the cases that remained to be submitted, some involved large sums and required a more extended examination and a more thorough argument than could be made within the less than two months remaining of the court's existence.
The causes of the delay in the business of the court Further Extensions of
were various. Apart from the fact that the court or
ganized in the summer, when the transaction of legal business is likely to be somewhat intermittent, many of the claims were for losses sustained by mariners who, when the time came to prepare their cases, were at sea, while other claims were dependent upon the testimony of seafaring men whom it was difficult to reach. Commissions for the taking of testimony were sent out to all parts of the world, and it is stated that in some cases the commission followed the witness from port to port, during a long voyage, reaching him at last thousands of miles from the place to which it was first forwarded. Many claimants had died, and their papers were lost or left in disorder. In some cases the claimants, or important witnesses, were absent on whaling or other long voyages. Moreover, the claims were for the most part in the hands of compartively few attorneys, who, during the period prescribed for the presentation of claims, were constantly occupied in drawing and filing petitions, and had had no opportunity to prepare their cases for trial.
On the 1st of November 1875 Mr. Davis, by direction of the court, informed the Secretary of State of the condition of its business. Of the 1,382 cases filed, 688 had been argued and submitted. Of the latter, 147 had been dismissed, judgment being entered for the United States; and 535 judgments had been rendered for the claimants. In all, 682 judgments had been entered. There thus remained 700 cases yet to be disposed of, and of these only 12 were ready for trial.' In view of these facts President Grant, in his annual message to Congress of December 7, 1875, recommended that legislation be adopted to enable the court to complete the work before it. In accordance with this recommendation Congress, by an act approved December 24, 1875, extended the existence of the court to the 22d of the following July; and the powers of the clerk were extended for an additional period, not to exceed two months from the termination of the existence of the court, for the purpose of enabling him to close his accounts and deposit the records of the tribunal in the office of the Secretary of State.3 By another act, approved March 6, 1876,' it was made the duty of the court to receive and decide all claims which might be filed within three months after the act took effect, provided it should satisfactorily appear that the claim had not been filed within the time previously limited by reason of the claimant's absence from the United
1 For. Rel. 1875, I. XXXI.