The Treason Trial Act Of The United States

1923 Words8 Pages
Despite the concessions Hedges made to combat the obvious disadvantage defendants in piracy cases faced, it is also clear that Hedges was not willing to provide suspected pirates with an avenue to escape justice. To the Chief Justice, these minor concessions in no way hampered the court’s ability to ascertain the truth. To that end, Hedges withheld two crucial components of the Treason Trial Act from his piracy legislation which conflicted with his approach to trying pirates. One of the most important and radical changes in trial procedures derived from the Treason Trials Act was that it changed the court’s interaction with the accused, from a combative environment, to seeing defendants as possible victims. This was contradictory to…show more content…
Prior to 1706, only three gentlemen from Massachusetts travelled to England to study law, all of them focusing on common law training at the Inns of Court. William Penn, proprietor of Pennsylvania, argued vehemently against the perceived usurpation of charter rights and complained about the difficulty in following the statute since no one in the colonies understood civil law procedure. Robert Quarry, recent judicial appointee to Pennsylvania’s new vice-Admiralty court confirmed Penn’s analysis when he wrote “I have not so much vanity as to pretend myself learned in the Civil Law…” continuing, “If none but a person learned in the law must be Judge of the Vice-Admiralty in Pennsylvania, then the crown must be without justice there, or send a person so qualified to England.” The Board of Trade’s solution to this serious impediment was to send George Larkin to the colonies in the spring of 1700 to instruct colonial officials in civil law and the proper procedures relating to piracy trials. This whirlwind tour sent Larkin to nine colonies, where he spent roughly two weeks in each colony giving a crash course to unprepared, and at times, unwilling recipients. He skipped the proprietary colonies completely. In Massachusetts, no high ranking official was present for Larkin’s training, and those that did show up proved highly resistant to accepting civil law procedures in their courts. Bermuda’s Governor
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