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understanding moreover, that Mr. Huntington was desirous of having some action thereon before the next session of the Legislature, the Committee made the following report to the House.
“ The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the order of the House of the 19th of January, 1844, respectfully recommend to the House in conformity with the desire of the respondent, that a Committee be appointed to meet during the recess of the Legislature, to examine the charges which have been preferred against the said Asahel Huntington, and to make their report thereon at the next session of the Legislature. And further, that the said Committee have authority to send for persons and papers."
This report was accepted by the House on the 13th day of March, and the undersigned, in pursuance thereof, were appointed the Committee.
Having been informed that Mr. Huntington was so far recovered that he was able and ready to attend to an examination of the charges against him, the Committee issued notices on the 2d day of July, 1844, to Mr. Washburn, the member of the House from Lynn, who introduced the original order and presented the charges, and also to the respondent, that they would meet at the Court House in Salem, on Tuesday the 9th day of July then next, at 11 o'clock, A. M., to hear such evidence as might be offered on the matter submitted to them.
The Committee met at the time and place appointed. Mr. Huntington appeared and was ready to proceed. But no person appeared to sustain the charges.
The Committee, however, on examination of the charges and the authority entrusted to them by the order of the House, deemed it their duty to proceed.
Mr. Huntington, on being called on to answer to the charges, admitted that those in the second specification aforesaid, in regard to the settlement of prosecutions, were true in fact, and that the witnesses to prove these charges would not be required.
The Committee then directed all the witnesses named to support the other specifications of charges, together with Mr. Washburn, of Lynn, to be summoned.
This was done accordingly, and all appeared and were fully
examined before the Committee, except Daniel Millett, Jr., a witness to the 9th charge aforesaid, who was at the time absent from the Commonwealth, but has since returned and given his deposition, which has been submitted to and considered by the Committee.
The charges against the respondent all relate to his official administration of the laws of the Commonwealth, against selling spirituous liquors without license.
The mal-administration seems to be charged ; 1st. In taking less than might have been required on the discharge of indictments found and not tried.
2nd. In retaining movies of the Commonwealth for so long a period after having received them, as to warrant the belief that he iutended to apply them without account to his own rise.
In relation to the first class of charges, the respondent admitted, that he had in various instances and in all instances, where he thought the public good required it, discharged persons under indictments for selling spirituous liquors without license, on receiving less than might have been demanded for the offences charged in the several counts of the indictments, and he claimed the right under the laws of the Commonwealth so to do.
He contended that as by the Revised Statutes the several District attornies within their several districts, are required to appear in all cases, criminal and civil, in which the Commonwealth may be a party or be interested, -and that as since the office of Attorney General has been abolished, the District Attornies are bound to assume the entire direction and management of all prosecutions and suits in behalf of the Commonwealth; that this necessarily gave him power and required of him as a duty under his official responsibility, to dispose of all such prosecutions and suits in the manner he might deem most conducive to the public interest. And he offered evidence to show that in the administration of this branch of the law, his rule had been, never to discharge a prosecution, without full indemnity to the Commonwealth. That whenever a number of penalties had been demanded in different counts of the same
indictment, and the defendant came forward and proposed an adjustment, his usual course had been
1st. To require theparty to enter a plea of nolo contendere.
2d. To enter into an agreement to abstain from future sales of liquors without license.
3d. To pay at least one penalty to the Commonwealth, and all costs which had then accrued. And
4th. That the indictment should then stand continued as security that the defendant would fulfil his agreement, and to be further prosecuted in case the defendant still continued in his course of a wilful violation of the laws.
It was very distinctly in evidence, that this course was taken openly and publicly by the respondent, and impartially applied to all; that it was known to the Courts, the Bar, the County Commissioners, and all other persons who had occasion to take any interest in the administration of this department of the law.
And it was also clearly proved, that this course was not only known but much and justly approved as tending more than any other course in the class of cases to which it was applied; to attain the just end of all punishment, the prevention of the offence, the reformation of the offender.
II. The charges of receiving and retaining the monies of the Commonwealth are ten in number, and they embrace a period of time from 1836 to 1843.
In regard to the charges numbered, one, two, three, six, seven and ten, the Committee on full consideration of all the evidence feel bound to say, that nothing has been proved to have been received by the respondent, that has not also been proved to have been fully and promptly accounted for, and duly paid over to the County Treasurer.
In regard to the charges numbered, four, five, eight and nine, the respondent admitted the receipt of the money in whole or in part, that the same has not been paid over, and he offered the following explanations and proofs.
In charge numbered four, Samuel V. Spear paid over to the respondent one hundred dollars in January, 1843, and in charge numbered five, Benjamin F. Rogers paid over to him the sum of one hundred and thirty-four dollars, in June, 1843.
These were both cases where the defendants came forward after indictments found, to make a voluntary settlement, and where the costs and a portion of the penalties demanded were received on the defendants agreement to abstain from future violations of the laws, and where the indictments were continued in court as security for their performance of this arrangement.
The money in the eighth charge received of Farmer, was received in October, 1843, and the money in the ninth charge was received in November, 1843. The charges against the respondent were all presented in January, 1814.
It was very clearly proved that after the September term of 1843, in Essex County, the respondent's time was wholly engrossed by his official duties in the County of Middlesex, and that he only returned from the arduous and exhausting duties of the Middlesex term, to fall under the prostrating effects of the disease under which he was suffering at the time these charges were preferred.
The Committee are fully satisfied from the evidence before them, that Mr. Huntington had no time to arrange the details of his official business generally at the September term, 1843, in Essex County, before he was drawn by imperative duties to the County of Middlesex, where his severe and long continued exertions left him in a condition wholly unfitted to the performance of any public duties, until long after this prosecution was instituted. Under these circumstances the Committee are not prepared to say that any charge of misfeasance or maladministration in office, is sustained against the respondent by the evidence in the case.
On the contrary, the evidence was entirely satisfactory to the Committee, that Mr. Huntington had devoted himself with extraordinary zeal and untiring industry-even to the peril of his life, to the discharge of his official duties. And that he had thereby rightfully acquired, and has a just right to retain the wide spread—and well founded confidence of his fellow citizens in the intelligence, integrity, fidelity and ability with which these duties have been discharged. The Committee are therefore unanimously of opinion, that
the charges of mal-practice in office, brought against Asahel Huntington, Esquire, District Attorney of the Commonwealth, for the Northern District, at the last session of the Legislature, are wholly unsustained by the evidence referred to for their support, and that no farther action be had thereon by this House.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Jan. 7, 1845.
Read, unanimously accepted, and ordered to be printed.
CHARLES W. STOREY, JR. Clerk.