ARON DOAN, being attainted of a robbery in the county of Bucks, by procefs of Outlawry, he was brought before the Court on the 24th day of September 1784 ; and, after hearing his Counfel upon feveral exceptions to the outlawry, (which were all over-ruled) execution was awarded againft him on the 9th day of October. The following correfpondence then took place between the Honorable the Supreme Executive Council, and the judges ; in the counrfe of which feveral important points of law were ftated and confidered.[♦]
On the 22d of November 1784, the Prefident and Supreme Executive Council addreffed the following to the Judges.
we have perufed, and attentively confidered, the tranfcript of the record tranfmitted by you, of the attainder of Aaron Doan ; and as it appears to us, a cafe of a novel and extraordinary nature, which, being once eftablifhed as a precedent, may greatly affect the lives, liberties, and fortunes, of the Freemen of this Commonwealth, we cannot, confiftently with our ideas of duty, iffue a warrant for his execution, (illegible text) the doubts and difficulties that prefent themfelves to our view, and removed.
To take away the life of man without a fair and open trial, upon an implication of guilt, has ever been regarded as fo dangerous a practice, that the law requires all the proceedings in fuch a mode of putting to death, to be ‘‘ exceedingly nice and circumftantial’’ as Blackʃtone fays ; and ‘‘ any fingle minute point omitted, or mifconducted, renders the whole outlawry illegal, and it may be reverfed ; upon which reverfal the party accufed is admitted to plead to, and defend himfelf againft the indictment.’’ 4. Blackʃtone 315.
This liberality of fpirit feems to have advanced with the improvement of the human mind, and of thofe laws, from which our own are compofed : For, by the ftatute of 4& 5 W. & M.c.22. wifely and benevolently reciting, that, ‘‘ it is agreeable to juftice, that proceedings in out-lawries in criminal cafes, fhould be as public and notorious, as in civil caufes, becaufe the confequences to perfons out-lawed in criminal cafes, are more fatal and dangerous to them, and their pofterities, than in any other caufes ;’’ it was enacted, that, ‘‘ upon iffuing an exigent in a criminal cafe, there
[♦]As the opinions given, upon this occafion have governed feveral fubfequent cafes, I am perfuaded, it will not be thought improper to infert them here, though they do not come within the ftrict idea of judicial decifions.