Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/150

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of inspection and of prosecution as well as all the other functions of the administration. Grand-jurors are bound by the law to apprize the court to which they belong of all the misdemeanours which may have been committed in their county[1]. There are certain great offences which are officially prosecuted by the State[2]; but more frequently the task of punishing delinquents devolves upon the fiscal officer, whose province it is to receive the fine: thus the treasurer of the township is charged with the prosecution of such administrative offences as fall under his notice. But a more especial appeal is made by American legislation to the private interest of the citizen[3]; and this great principle is constantly to be met with in studying the laws of the United States. American legislators are more apt to give men credit for intelligence than for honesty; and they rely not a little on personal cupidity for the execution of the laws. When an individual is really and sensibly injured by an administrative abuse, it is natural that his personal interest should induce him to prosecute. But if a legal formality

  1. The Grand-jurors are, for instance, bound to inform the court of the bad state of the roads. Laws of Massachusetts, vol. i. p. 308.
  2. If, for instance, the treasurer of the county holds back his accounts. Laws of Massachusetts, vol. i. p. 406.
  3. Thus, if a private individual breaks down or is wounded in consequence of the badness of a road, he can sue the township or the county for damages at the sessions. Laws of Massachusetts, vol. i. p. 309.