United States v. Neurea
THIS was an appeal from the District Court of the United States for the northern district of California.
The case presented a general demurrer to the following libel for information:
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA. IN ADMIRALTY.
To the Hon. Ogden Hoffman, Jr., Judge of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California:
The libel of Samuel W. Inge, attorney of the United States for the northern district of California, who prosecutes on behalf of the said United States against the brig Neurea, and against all persons intervening for their interest therein, in a cause of forfeiture, alleges and informs as follows:
1. That Richard P. Hammond, Esq., collector of the customs for the district of San Francisco, heretofore, to wit, on the thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-four, at the port of San Francisco, and within the northern district of California, on waters that are navigable from the sea by vessels of ten or more tons burden, seized as forfeited to the use of the said United States the said brig Neurea, being the property of some person or persons to the said attorney unknown.
2. That one Kohler, master of the said brig Neurea, which is a vessel owned wholly or in part by a subject or subjects of the kingdom of Sweden, did on the first day of June, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-four, at the foreign port of Hong Kong, in China, take on board said vessel two hundred and sixty-three passengers, which was a greater number of passengers than in the following proportion to the space occupied by them and appropriated for their use on board said vessel, and unoccupied by stores or other goods not being the personal luggage of such passengers, that is to say, on the lower deck or platform, one passenger for every fourteen clear superficial feet of deck, with intent to bring said passengers to the United States of America, and did leave said port with the same; and afterwards, to wit, on the twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-four, did bring the said passengers, being two hundred and sixty-three in number, on board the said vessel, to the said port of San Francisco, within the jurisdiction of the United States, and that the said passengers so taken on board of said vessel, and brought into the United States as aforesaid, did exceed the number which could be lawfully taken on board and brought into the United States as aforesaid, as limited by the first section of the act of Congress approved February 22, 1847, entitled 'An act to regulate the carriage of passengers' 'in merchant vessels,' to the number of twenty in the whole, in violation of the act of Congress of the United States in such cases made and provided, and that by force and virtue of the said acts of Congress, in such case made and provided, the said vessel became and is forfeited to the use of the said United States.
And the said attorney saith, that by reason of all and singular the premises aforesaid, and by force of the statute in such case made and provided, the aforementioned vessel became and is forfeited to the use of the said United States.
Lastly, that all and singular the premises aforesaid are true, and within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and of this court.
Wherefore the said attorney prays the usual process and monition of this court in this behalf to be made, and that all persons interested in the said vessel may be cited in general and special to answer the premises, and all due proceedings being had, that the said vessel may be, for the causes aforesaid and other appearing, be condemned by the definitive sentence and decree of this court, as forfeited to the use of the said United States, according to the form of the statute of the said United States in such case made and provided.
The act of Congress referred to will be found in 9 Stat. at Large, 127.
The court below sustained the demurrer and dismissed the libel, from which decree the United States appealed.
It was argued for the United States by Mr. Cushing, (Attorney General.)
Mr. Justice GRIER delivered the opinion of the court.