Title: John M. Binckley to L. V. B. Martin, 14 December 1867
Date: December 14, 1867
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: National Archives and Records Administration
Whitman Archive ID: nar.00356
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kevin McMullen, John Schwaninger, and Nima Najafi Kianfar
December 14, 1867.
L. V.B. Martin, Esq.
United States Attorney,
The Clerk of the U. S. Circuit Court for the Southern District of Alabama has recently transmitted to the Attorney General (by direction, he states, of Judge Busteed), a certified copy of a presentment by the Grand Jury at the April term of said Court, 1867, in which they find as follows:
"That in or about the month of January, 1867, the said District Attorney, (meaning yourself), filed libels of information, or prepared them to be filed, against certain steamboats, for alleged violations of certain Acts of Congress, passed for the more effectual protection of lives and safety of passengers,—and thereupon caused the seizure and detention of certain steamboats; and afterwards, and while such steamboats were subject to his power as an officer, or supposed to be so subject, and before the actions were brought into court, or placed on the docket of the Court, for trial, he entered into agreement with the managing agents of said steamboats, to the effect that if they would pay the costs of court, of which they were to pay him the sum of $100 in each case, which he then represented to be the regular fee allowed him by law, he would procure the libels to be discharged, on the imposition by the Court of a merely nominal fine;—that, upon these representations the managing agents paid said sum of money in many instances—while, in fact, the fee allowed him by law could not have exceeded $20 in any of the cases."
The attention of the Attorney Gen'l has also been called to the same matter by the Secretary of the Treasury, who has referred to this office written statements relating thereto from subordinates in his Department.
The case thus laid before the Attorney General involves a charge of official misconduct in you, by exacting and receiving illegal fees, which is declared a misdemeanor by Statute. Deeming it fair, however, to afford you an opportunity to be heard, before taking definitive action thereon, you are accordingly instructed to make a full report to this office in regard to the matter adverted to, immediately upon the receipt hereof.
I am Sir, very respectfully,
John M. Binckley,
Assistant Attorney General