United States Statutes at Large/Volume 2/6th Congress/1st Session/Chapter 4

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United States Statutes at Large, Volume 2
United States Congress
Public Acts of the Sixth Congress, 1st Session, Chapter IV

Jan. 6, 1800.
Chap. IV.—An Act for the relief of persons imprisoned for Debt.[1]

Prisoners entitled to the limits of gaols as persons confined under process from state courts.Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That persons imprisoned on process issuing from any court of the United States, as well at the suit of the United States as at the suit of any person or persons in civil actions, shall be entitled to like privileges of the yards or limits of the respective gaols, as persons confined in like cases on process from the courts of the respective states, are entitled to, and under the like regulations and restrictions.

Prisoners in execution may have an oath of insolvency administered to them by the District Judge,Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That any person imprisoned on process of execution issuing from any court of the United States in civil actions, except at the suit of the United States, may have the oath or affirmation hereinafter expressed, administered to him by the judge of the district court of the United States, within whose jurisdiction the debtor may be confined; and in case there shall be no district judge residing within twenty miles of the gaol wherein such debtor may be confined, such oath or affirmation may be administered by any two persons who may be commissioned foror by commissioners that purpose by the district judge: The creditor, his agent or attorney, if either live within one hundred miles of the place of imprisonment, or within the district in which the judgment was rendered, having had at least thirty days previous notice by a citation served on him, issued by the district judge, to appear at the time and place therein mentioned, if he see fit to show cause why the said oath or affirmation should not be so administered: At which time and place, if no sufficient cause, in the opinion of the judge,If no cause is shown to the contrary, (or the commissioners appointed as aforesaid) be shown, or doth from examination appear to the contrary, he or they may, at the request of the debtor, proceed to administer to him the following oath or affirmation, as the case may be, viz. “You solemnly (swear or affirm) on making oath or affirmation, that you have no estate, real or personal, in possession, reversion or remainder, to the amount or value of thirty dollars, other than necessary wearing apparel; and that you have not, directly or indirectly, given, sold, leased, or otherwise conveyed to, or intrusted any person or persons with all or any part of the estate, real or personal, whereof you have been the lawful owner or possessor, with any intent to secure the same, or to receive or expect any profit or advantage therefrom, or to defraud your creditors, or have caused or suffered to be done any thing else whatsoever, whereby any of your creditors may be defrauded.” Which oath or affirmation being administered, the judge or commissioners shall certify the same under his or their hands to the prison-keeper, and the debtor shall be discharged from his imprisonment on they shall be discharged. such judgment, and shall not be liable to be imprisoned again for the said debt, but the judgment shall remain good and sufficient in law, and may be satisfied out of any estate which may then, or at any time afterwards, belong to the debtor. And the judge or commissioners, in Proceedings to be filed in district court. addition to the certificate by them made and delivered to the prison-keeper, shall make return of their doings to the district court, with the commission, in cases where a commission hath been issued, to be kept upon the files and record of the same court. And the said judge, or commissioners,Powers of the judge and commissioners, to send for books and papers. may send for books and papers, and have the same authority as a court of record, to compel the appearance of witnesses, and administer to them, as well as to the debtor, the oaths or affirmations necessary for the inquiry into, and discovery of the true state of the debtor’s property, transactions and affairs.

Debtor may be removed to facilitate proceedings, and may be remanded.Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That when the examination and proceedings aforesaid, in the opinion of the said judge or commissioners, cannot be had with safety or convenience in the prison wherein the debtor is confined, it shall be lawful for him or them, by warrant under his or their hand and seals, to order the marshal or prison-keeper, to remove the debtor to such other place convenient and near to the prison as he or they may see fit; and to remand the debtor to the same prison, if upon examination or cause shown by the creditor, it shall appear that the debtor ought not to be admitted to take the above recited oath or affirmation, or that he is holden for any other cause.

Penalty on taking a false oath or affirmation.
1790, ch. 9, sec. 18.
1798, ch. 49, sec. 2.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That if any person shall falsely take any oath or affirmation, authorized by this act, such person shall be deemed guilty of perjury, and upon conviction thereof, shall suffer the pains and penalties in that case provided. And in case any false oath or affirmation be so taken by the debtor, the court, upon the motion of the creditor, shall recommit the debtor to the prison from whence he was liberated, there to be detained for the said debt, in the same manner as if such oath or affirmation had not been taken.

Thirty days after judgment, debtor imprisoned may take the benefit of this act, although no execution is sued out.Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That any person imprisoned upon process issuing from any court of the United States, except at the suit of the United States, in any civil action, against whom judgment has been or shall be recovered, shall be entitled to the privileges and relief provided by this act, after the expiration of thirty days from the time such judgment has been or shall be recovered, though the creditor should not, within that time, sue out his execution, and charge the debtor therewith.

Approved, January 6, 1800.