3 Del. 560 (Del.Oyer.Ter. 1842), State v. Griffin

Citation3 Del. 560
Party NameTHE STATE v. JACOB R. GRIFFIN and JAMES WILSON.
AttorneyGilpin, Attorney-general, for the State. Wm. H. Rogers and Mr. Rush (of Philad'a.,) for defendant.
CourtCourt of Oyer and Terminer of Delaware

Page 560

3 Del. 560 (Del.Oyer.Ter. 1842)

THE STATE

v.

JACOB R. GRIFFIN and JAMES WILSON.

Court of Oyer and Terminer of Delaware.

1842

Fall Sessions, 1842

A convict servant is a free man for the purpose of giving evidence, as well as of punishment.

Section seventeen of the criminal code applies to others as well as the owners of such convicts.

Requisites of an indictment under this section.

The defendant, Wilson, (the only one now on trial) was indicted with Jacob R. Griffin, for exporting from this State to Virginia, two negro convicts, Emory Hand and James Hickman, contrary to section 17, of the act providing for the punishment of certain crimes and misdemeanors. ( Digest, 148.)

Emory Hand was called as a witness, and objected to, on the ground that he was not a freeman.

But the Court said:-The act of assembly ( Dig. 156,) defines the term slave and expressly says, that a person disposed of as a servant pursuant to any judgment, sentence or order of any court, shall not be deemed to be a slave within any provision of that act. Such a person has already been decided to be a free man in reference to the punishment of crime, ( The State v. Morris, 2 Harr. Rep. 534,) and he is equally so as to the privilege of giving testimony in a court of justice. On this subject the law recognizes but two classes of persons, freemen and slaves; and by the letter of the law this witness is not a slave.

In the further progress of this case the defence presented the following legal positions:-1st. That the penalty in section seventeen was aimed only at the purchaser or owner of a convict servant, and does not extend to third persons. That the terms " export, convey, transfer or assign," all have reference to purchasers or owners. That the word export, which was the one used in the indictment, had a technical meaning, which applies only to an owner. 2d. There are two provisos connected with the enacting clause, which ought to have been negatived in the indictment, viz: that Griffin had no license to export these negroes, and...

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