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[off,) and destroying or throwing any of the goods overboard ; - was to be deemed piracy. Moreover, by statute 18 Geo. II. c. 30, any natural-born subject or denizen, who in time of war shall commit hostilities at sea against any of his fellow subjects, or shall assist an enemy on that element,-is liable to be tried and convicted as a pirate (m)] And, lastly, in our own times, a further addition has been made to the list of piratical offences. For, with a view of putting an effectual stop to the slave trade, the statute 5 Geo. IV. c. 113(n), enacts, that if any British subject, wherever residing - and whether within the dominion of Great Britain, or of any foreign country, or in the colonies, – shall (except in some particular cases therein specified), within the jurisdiction of the admiralty, knowingly convey or assist in conveying, persons as slaves, or to be dealt with as slaves, or ship them for that purpose, he shall be deemed guilty of piracy, felony and robbery (o).
Formerly the punishment for most piratical offences was death. But it has been thought expedient to relax this severity; and, now, whoever shall be convicted of piracy, is liable to be sentenced to penal servitude for life or any term not less than five years; or to be imprisoned, (with or without hard labour,) for any term not more than two years (p). But whoever, with intent to commit,
(m) Blackstone remarks (vol. iv. ships and goods taken from pirates, p. 73), that, under the statutes re- and the salvage payable by the lating to piracy, commanders or owners, vide sup. vol. II. p. 18. seamen wounded, and the widows (n) See also the enactments in of seamen slain in any engagement repression of the slave trade, cited with pirates, are entitled to a bounty vol. 1. p. 109, n. (x). to be divided amongst them, not (v) See R. v. Zulueta, 1 Car. & exceeding one-fiftieth part of the Kir. 215; Buron r. Denman, 2 Exch. value of the cargo on board. Aud 167. further, that if the commander dis- (P) 5 Geo. 4, c. 113; 7 Will. 4 & plays cowardice, he shall forfeit all 1 Vict. c. 88; 9 & 10 Vict. c. 24; his wages, and suffer six months' 16 & 17 Vict. c. 99; 20 & 21 Vict. imprisonment. As to the condem- c. 3; 27 & 28 Vict. c. 47. nation in the Court of Admiralty of
or at the time of or immediately before or after committing, the crime of piracy, shall assault with intent to murder, or stab or wound, or unlawfully do any act by which the life of any person on board of or belonging to any ship or vessel may be endangered,-is liable to suffer death as a felon (7).
(9) 7 Will. 4 & 1 Vict. c. 88, s. 2. As to the general law with respect
to wounding, &c. with intent to murder, vice sup. pp. 78, 79.
OF OFFENCES AGAINST JUSTICE.
We are now arrived, according to the arrangement before laid down, at the consideration of offences against justice (a). Of these, some are felonious, others only misdemeanors.
1. The first of these which we shall mention, are stealing, injuring, forging or falsifying records ; which practices are high offences against public justice. For no man's property would be safe if records might be suppressed or falsified, or persons' names be falsely usurped in courts (6) With regard to the stealing or injuring of records, this is provided against by 24 & 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 30; and it is made felony, punishable by penal servitude to the extent of five years (c), or imprisonment not more than two years, with or without hard labour and solitary confinement, to steal or fraudulently take from its proper deposit or custody,-or maliciously cancel, obliterate, injure or destroy, -any record, writ, return, panel, process, interrogatory, deposition, affidavit, rule, order, or warrant of attorney, or any original document whatever, belonging to any court of record or equity, or relating to any matter in such court (d). And the forgery or falsification of records is provided against by 24 & 25 Vict. c. 98, ss. 27, 28, which enact that it shall be a felony punishable by
(a) Vide sup. p. 149.
also bind over the offender to keep the peace. (24 & 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 30.)
imprisonment as above mentioned, or penal servitude to the extent of seven years, to forge, or fraudulently alter or utter, any such court record or document as above specified. And that the above penalties shall also attach to any person who, as clerk of any court or otherwise, shall knowingly utter any false copy or certificate of any record, or forge the seal or process, of any court of record (e). There are also provisions on this subject contained in an earlier statute, viz., the 1 & 2 Vict. c. 94, intituled “ An Act for keeping safely the Public Records.” And by that statute it is enacted, that for any person employed in the Public Record Office to certify any writing as a true copy of a record in the custody of the Master of the Rolls,
' knowing the same to be false in any material part,- shall be felony: and he is punishable with penal servitude for life, or not less than five years; or imprisonment for not more than four, nor less than two years (f). Moreover, by 14 & 15 Vict. c. 99 (the “ Evidence Amendment Act, 1851"), if any officer authorized or required by that Act to furnish any certified copies or extracts shall wilfully certify any document as being a true copy or extract, knowing that the same is not so, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding eighteen months (9)
II. [Striking, or other outrage, in the superior courts of justice, in Westminster Hall, or at the assizes, is highly penal. Indeed by the antient common law before the Conquest, striking in the king's courts of justice, or drawing a sword therein, was a capital felony (h); and
(e) If the court think fit, it may also bind over the offender to keep the peacc. (24 & 25 Vict. c. 98, s. 51.)
(f) 1 & 2 Vict. c. 94, s. 19; 16 & 17 Vict. c. 99; 20 & 21 Vict. c. 3;
27 & 28 Vict. c. 47.
(9) 14 & 15 Vict. c. 99, s. 15.
(1) Wilk. Leg. Anglo-Sax. LL. Inæ, c. 6; LL. Canut, c. 56; LL. Alured. c. 7.
[our modern law retains so much of the antient severity, as only to exchange the loss of life for the loss of the offending limb. Therefore a stroke or blow in the superior courts, or courts of assize or oyer and terminer, whether blood be drawn or not; or assaulting a judge sitting in the court, by drawing a weapon, even without any blow struck;—is punishable with the loss of the right hand (i), imprisonment for life, and forfeiture of goods and chattels, and of the profits of the offender's lands during life (k). Moreover, not such only as commit actual violence of this description, but such as use threatening or reproachful words to any judge sitting in the courts, are guilty of a high misprision; and have been punished with large fines, imprisonment, and other corporal punishment(?). And even in the inferior courts, an affray or contemptuous behaviour is punishable with a fine, by the judges there sitting; as by the steward in a court leet, or the
(i) Lord Thanet and others were prosecuted by an information filed by the attorney-general, for a riot at the trial of Arthur O'Connor and others for treason, under a special commission at Maidstone. Two of the defendants were found guilty, generally. The three first counts charged (inter alia,) that the defendants did riotously make an assault on one J. R., and did then and there beat, bruise, round and illtreat the said J. R., in the presence of the commissioners. When the defendants were brought up for judgment, Lord Kenyon expressed doubts, whether, upon this information, the court was not bound to pronounce the judgment of amputation of the right hand, &c. as required in a prosecution expressly for striking in a court of justice. In consequence of these doubts, the
attorney-general entered a nolle prosequi upon the three first counts; and the court pronounced judgment of fine and imprisonment, as for a common riot.-(Christian's Blackstone.)
(k) Staundf. P. C. 38; 3 Inst. 140, 141; Hawk. b. 1, c. 21, s. 3. So it is laid down that a rescue of a prisoner from any of the said courts, is punishable with perpetual imprisonment and forfeiture of goods, and of the profits of lands during life; but if no actual blow be given, amputation of the hand is excuscd. (4 Bl. Com. p. 125.) See as to rescue in other cases, post, p. 230.
(1) Harrison's case, Cro. Car. 503. The court itself, also, against which the contempt is committed, has power to punish it in a summary way by fine or imprisonment. (n) IIawk. P. C. b. 1, c. 21, s. 11.