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12 corrections, most recently by ianstone - Show corrections

To the Editor of the Perth Gazette.

SIR,-Believing that you are as anxious as the Inquire? " occulta vitia inquirere," although not making much parade about it, I beg to lay before you and your readers a few facts which have come under my observation during a recent visit to the

York and Beverley districts. I allude to the mode of administering justice in the

magisterial court, held generally on every  

Saturday at York. Capt Meares, late 2nd   Life Guards (I give him his title as he is fond of it), is the Government Resident at York, but resides at a distance of 5 miles from the town-site. He is likewise the presiding magistrate. A case was lately brought before him at the instance of Ma lichi Hogan, a discharged soldier of the 21st Regt., against Mr. Knight, the partner of Mr. Henry Landor, for assault and bat- tery, and wages due to him as a servant. The hearing of this case was fixed for Sa- turday last at 3 o'clock. The complainant was at the Court-house a few minutes before

the hour, and I arrived there, on the part of the man, just as Capt. Meares alighted from his poney. I intimated to him my intention of conducting the complainant's case, having been requested to do so by Hogan. Capt. Meares went into the Court- house, where Mr. Knight was standing, and after exchanging a few words in pri- vate with him, came out again in a few minutes, and in a state of excitement ex- claimed, " I dismiss this case-I dismiss this case." I asked him calmly, for what

reason, and he wrathfully made answer,  

" because Hogan has not been here at the   time appointed;" and pulled out his watch, stating it was 20 minutes past 3. I re- marked that he himself had just galloped into town, and according to his own shew- ing was 20 minutes behind time. I like wise pointed out Hogan to him, saying, "there is the man ready to enter into the   case." However, all would not do; and notwithstanding the remonstrances of my- self and Hogan, he refused to go on with it, and was preparing to mount his poney, when, as a last resource, I insisted on on his taking another information for the assault and battery, to be heard on the fol- lowing week, and also to issue a summons for£11 5s., being wages due to Hogan;   and in the event of his refusal, I intimated my intention of complaining to a higher quarter. With considerable unwillingness he proceeded again to the Court-house, and repeatedly said it was a private chamber, and I had no right to be there. I however remained, and as he would not allow me to speak, I whispered to the man his plan of procedure. This was construed to be an offence, and I was obliged to desist, or else, I plainly saw, I ran the risk of being committed to custody. The information was taken, and in administering the oath, Capt. Meares says to Hogan, "stand up, sir, as if you were in the ranks !" Malichi stood bolt upright, as if on parade, and this novel mode of swearing a complainant was proceeded with. The man then reminded him of his wages, and asked fora summons but Capt. Meares positively refused to   grant one, stating, that as £11 5s. was claimed in the former summons, the case was beyond his jurisdiction. The question was naturally asked, "why then did he grant a former summons and refuse one now?" To this poser the only reply was,  

" I shall issue no summons until I hear

from the Government." On my remark- ing that I did not see what the government had to do with the case, I was asked if I had any government authority for appear- ing before him? The question only ex-   cited a smile, and I endeavored to convince him, that if Hogan chose io abandon £1 5s. 6d., and make Messrs. Landor and Knight a present of it, he might restrict his claim to £9 19s. 6d., and bring it under the jurisdiction of the Magistrates, instead of incurring the heavy expense of Civil Court proceedings, and that a further delay of the case would be great injustice to Hogan, who wished to have his wages. I was interrupted in the following manner, "If you say another word, I shall order the consta- ble to take you to prison." I had only one answer, which was, that I would com- plain of his conduct to His Excellency the

Governor. The matter has in the mean- time s0 far ended.

On a previous occasion, Messrs. Landor and Meares fined a party for an assault on one Mr. Niemen, grounded wholly on the oath of the prosecutor, without a single witness being adduced in support of it.

Mr. Landor remarking that the appearance of violence on Niemen's face were sufficient

evidence against the defendant. "Yes,"

says the defendant, "if you can prove they    

were inflicted by me, but I deny the charge,   and it is unfair to condemn me without evi-

dence. Mr. Niemen might have fallen and broke his face for ought I know." Such reasoning, was of no avail-the ma gistrates found the assault and battery proved, and fined the defendant.

In another case before the same magis

trate, in which Mr. Seymour Meares, son of Capt. Meares, was complainant, and Thomas White, a lately imported English- man, was defendant, on a charge of breach of contract, the father insisted on sitting as a magistrate, stating " that he wished to see justice done to his son." This conduct was persisted in, although protested against by the defendant. Mr. H. Landor and Capt. Meares, after hearing the son's statement, and reading some letters from Mr. M. Clarkson,also protested against because the writer was not present to be cross-examined, sentenced White to two months imprison- ment in Fremantle Jail, in presence of his weeping wife and an infant baby at her breast, and a crowd of amazed spectators. These magistrates refused to hear White's defence, and would not allow Thomas McGrau, a most material witness for the defendant, to be examined by him, for the pithy reasoiuthat no subpoena had been is- sued, although McGrau was present, and had come a distance of twenty miles to give his evidence touching the case. The whole matter would have been brought before W. H. Mackie, Esq., as possessing the powers and authority of the Lord Chief Justice of England, had not Mr. Seymour Meares found it prudent to give White a full dis- charge on his abandoning all claims for

wages.

I am satisfied, Mr. Editor, that no cor- rection can be more powerful than a faithful exhibition of such scenes to the public eye, by means of the press, before which misrule and ignorance hide their diminished heads. In a matter like this I disdain to use an

anonymous name, and subscribe myself,

Yours obediently

W.N.CLARK,

Solicitor and Notary Public. York, Jan. 23,1843.

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