Thursday, May 23, 2013

Little v. Barreme case brief

Little v. Barreme case brief
6 U.S. 170, 2 Cranch 170, 2 L. Ed. 243 (1804)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Respondents sought review of an order from the circuit court, which affirmed the district court's grant of judgment in favor of claimants in an action alleging that claimants violated the non-intercourse law with France by attempting to travel to a jurisdiction under the authority of the French republic and awarded claimants damages for the capture and detention.

FACTS: A Danish vessel was captured on a voyage from Jeremie to St. Thomas's by the United States frigate, captained by one of the appellants. The captain believed that the vessel was of American origin and in violation of the non-intercourse law. However, it was determined that the vessel was not American and was on a voyage from, not to a French port. The district court entered judgment in favor of claimants, but declined to award damages because it found that there was probable cause to suspect the vessel to be American. The appellate court reversed, finding that even if the vessel had been American it should not have been captured because it was on a voyage from a French port. On further appeal, the Court affirmed. In so doing, the court found that although the captain had instructions from the President to make stop suspected American vessels from traveling to a French jurisdiction, such instructions did not change the nature of the transaction or legalize an act which without the instructions would have been trespass.

CONCLUSION: The Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment and award of damages in favor of claimants.

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