Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/148

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Sessions does not originate the town-authorities, it cannot remove functionaries whom it does not appoint. Moreover, a perpetual investigation would be necessary to convict the officer of negligence or lukewarmness; and the Court of Sessions sits but twice a year, and then only judges such offences as are brought before its notice. The only security of that active and enlightened obedience, which a court of justice cannot impose upon public officers, lies in the possibility of their arbitrary removal. In France this security is sought for in powers exercised by the heads of the administration; in America it is sought for in the principle of election.

Thus, to recapitulate in a few words what I have been showing:

If a public officer in New England commits a crime in the exercise of his functions, the ordinary courts of justice are always called upon to pass sentence upon him.

If he commits a fault in his official capacity, a purely administrative tribunal is empowered to punish him; and, if the affair is important or urgent, the judge supplies the omission of the functionary[1].

Lastly, if the same individual is guilty of one of those intangible offences, of which human justice has no cognizance, he annually appears before a

  1. If, for instance, a township persists in refusing to name its assessors, the Court of Sessions nominates them; and the magistrates thus appointed are invested with the same authority as elected officers. See the Act quoted above, 20th Feb. 1787.