U.S. Supreme Court
CASE OF STARRET, 1 U.S. 356 (1788)
1 U.S. 356 (Dall.)
Circuit Court, Pennsylvania District
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
September Term, 1788
Henry Starret, while attending the Court as a suitor, was taken by a Ca. Sa. and Chambers moved that he might be discharged from the arrest, citing 4 Bac. 421. 3 Bl. C. 289. 2 Stra. 1094. 1 Barn. 17.
Yeates and C. Smith opposed the motion, and contended, that there was a distinction between an arrest on mesne, and on judicial, process; for, though, in the former case, the Court would discharge a suitor, witness, & c. from an arrest made during an attendance upon them, yet, in the latter, they would not, because the party would afterwards be remediless. Wood's Inst. 503. 600. 4 Com.Dig. 475. II Mod. 234. 252. There is, likewise, another reason: the Capias on mesne process might be taken out merely on a suggestion; but in judicial process, the debt is certain, and fixed by the judgment of the Court.
Chambers and Hartley, in reply. The protection of suitors &c. is established to promote an equal administration of justice, and to prevent the oppression of a rich and powerful man, over a poor one who is soliciting justice. There is no express authority that extends the doctrine to this case; but in 4 Cum. 575. tit. Priv. it is laid down, that an execution shall not be discharged, yet, if the party who procured it, will not consent to a discharge, he shall himself be committed. The books cited in Comyns, Crompton, and Wood's Inst. are of little authority.
M'Kean, Chief Justice.
Wood is a writer of great authority, and frequently cited with respect in Westminster Hall. In the case before us, the execution has regularly issued, upon a judgment regularly obtained; and although we should certainly protect suitors, witnesses, and jurors, from an arrest on mesne process, during their attendance upon the Court, and for a reasonable time in coming and going, yet no case has been shown, which will justify our interference to discharge a man taken in execution on the ground of such a protection. It is, indeed, the privilege of the Court that is infringed; and, it is discretionary, to grant it on some occasions, and to refuse it upon others.
By the Court: The prisoner must be remanded.