26 Nov. 1807
Had the penalty been incurred under a revenue law, the Secy. of the Treasury might have remitted it; and the Statement of facts transmitted by the district judge is, in such cases, made by law the evidence on which the Secretary must judge.
May not in instances like this, the same statement of facts be taken by the President as sufficient evidence, without waiting for the trial? It must also be observed that in this case, the collector Hawks who is entitled to one half of the penalty, admits the facts & supports the petition; and that the district Attorney whose duty it is to prosecute does the same. Finally the certificate of the dist. judge would be as good as his decree; and according to a decision in Maryland, there should be no trial by jury in this case, it being considered as an Admiralty case. It is true that from that decision (of judge Winchester) there is an appeal now pending before the Supreme Court.
Upon the whole, I think that relief may be granted at this time without any impropriety; but whether through pardon or nolle prosequi, I do not feel competent to decide.
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.