DUPONT v. PICHON, 4 U.S. 321 (1805)

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U.S. Supreme Court

DUPONT v. PICHON, 4 U.S. 321 (1805)

4 U.S. 321 (Dall.)


Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

March Term, 1805

THE plaintiff had issued a capias against the defendant, in an action upon the case, &c. and a citation was served upon him, in the following terms:-

Page 4 U.S. 321, 322


    'You are hereby cited to show your cause of action, and why the defendant, claiming privilege as charge d'affaires of the French republic, should not be discharged from the process issued against him, at the city hall, in the city of Philadelphia, at 10 o'clock to-morrow forenoon. Philadelphia, 1st of March 1805.

The citation was returned to the Judges of the Supreme Court, then holding a Court of Nisi Prius;1 and after argument, by Du Ponceau and Dallas, for the defendant; and by Ingersoll and Wallace, for the plaintiff, the following order was made by the Judges, who did not think, that individually, or sitting at Nisi Prius, they could quash the process:

    'It is ordered, that the defendant be discharged on common bail; and that at the next Supreme Court, in Bank, on the 4th day of this instant March, it may be considered by that Court, whether the defendant should, or should not, be discharged from the process issued against him; or whether he should be held to bail, and the present order be discharged.'

At the opening of the Court, on the first day of the term (all the Judges being present) Du Ponceau and Dallas moved, that the defendant be discharged absolutely from the process. They produced. Mr. Pichon's credentials, by which it appeared, that he had not only been appointed commissary general of commercial relations, but, also, charge d'affaires of the French republic; his continuance in the latter character, however, being limited, until a minister plenipotentiary should arrive in the United States from France. It appeared by Mr. Pichon's deposition, that the minister, general Toureau, had arrived in the United States about the 12th of November 1804; that in compliance with Mr. Pichon's instructions from his government, he had been anxiously making all the necessary arrangements, for his return to France with his family; that his detention in the United States, since the arrival of general Toureau, had solely and exclusively been owing to the business of closing his official transactions as charge d'affaires, and to the delay in receiving his public papers and documents, which were shipped in a vessel from Alexandria for Philadelphia, but were carried into New-York, in consequence of the obstructed navigation of the Delaware: and to the impracticability of obtaining a passage for Europe at the port of Philadelphia, for a considerable time past; that Mr. Pichon had never, in the slightest degree, abandoned, or suspended, his intention of returning to France; but, on the contrary, was determined to go thither, with all possible dispatch, as soon as the obstacles, which [4 U.S. 321, 323]

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