Title: Amos T. Akerman to H. H. Wells, 15 December 1871
Date: December 15, 1871
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.02254
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Anthony Dreesen, John Schwaninger, and Nima Najafi Kianfar
Dec. 15, 1871.
Hon. H. H. Wells,
U. S. Attorney,
Mr. F. S. Tukey, U. S. Commissioner, informs me that in Essex County, Virginia, Washington Fauntleroy has been prosecuted for perjury in the State Court, and that the trial is expected to take place on the 18th instant.
The alleged perjury is said to consist in testimony given by Fauntleroy before the U. S. Commissioner in a prosecution against Thomas Croxton for violation of the Enforcement Act. As the result of the hearing before the Commissioner, Croxton was committed to answer the charge.
If this information be correct, the prosecution of Fauntleroy in the State Courts is manifestly a device to keep him and other witnesses from testifying in the U. S. Courts against parties prosecuted under that act.
Without having given a particular examination to the subject, I am disposed to question the right of the State Courts to take cognizance of perjury before the United States tribunals, when the trial is for a violation of the laws of the United States.
Though ordinarily the Government does not undertake the defence of private parties in the State Courts, the character and objects of this proceeding are so grave, that you are directed to repair at once to the place, ascertain the facts, and, if you learn that the prosecution against Fauntleroy is such as I have above stated, to appear in the defence, to raise the question of jurisdiction—to carry the case, if the decision should be adverse to the accused in the lower courts, to the highest courts of the State,—and thence, if the of adverse decision, to the Supreme Court of the U. S.
For this service you will receive a reasonable compensation, to be determined by this Department.
A. T. Akerman,