Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Caesar Augustus Rodney, 31 August 1807

Wilmington August 31. 1807.

Honored & Dear Sir

On my return this evening from New Castle I received your favor of the 26th. inst I remember perfectly, when the subject of an attachment was spoken of, I was of opinion, that however parties, who were able to pay for them, might purchase any number of subpenas, & summon with their own process, whom they pleased; the Court would not enforce an obedience by attachment, which is the process of the Court, to subpenas served on those who had duties to perform paramount to the obligations of a witness. So many cases of this kind may be adduced, that I think the principle must be conceded. I was also of opinion that there was no officer that I knew of, whose duty it was to serve an attachment issued by a Court of one District into another. Not the Marshall of the District in which the Court sits, because by the express language of the law he is only to serve the process of the Court within his District: Nor the Marshall of the other District, because he is not an officer of the Court from whom the process issues nor amenable to them for refusing to serve it. I am also of opinion they could not compel a person to give a deposition who was out of their jurisdiction.

Such are my present impressions, but I shall proceed to investigate & maturely to consider the questions proposed & give you a formal opinion as soon as possible agreeably to your request. We are trying the suits by the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Company [agn.] the subscribers to the Stock. If we succeed the work will progress, & I am anxious for it, in a national view.

Will you be good enough to inform me, whether you received a letter I enclosed you from—Capt. Crowningsheild.

I was delighted with Hay’s opening speech. It was sound & manly, and worthy of the great public cause he supported. I see they wish to overturn the opinion of the Supreme Court, which at the very time it was delivered I thought would fin Burr’s case. It is impossible tho’ that they should succeed.

I remain Dr. Sir Yours Very Sincerly & Affeccy.

C. A. Rodney

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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