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Memorandum by Martin Howard concerning the case against the Regulators
Howard, Martin, ca. 1730-1781
August 30, 1772
Volume 09, Pages 333-334

Copy of the Chief Justice's Opinion.

To His Excellency The Governor,

I have considered the several questions proposed to me by your Excellency and submit the following answers.

To the first.

I know of no Insurgents in a state of Outlawry in the law sense of that word as far as I can recollect indictments were found against several persons at New Bern in March 1771, for Felonies and Trespasses committed at Hillsborough and proclamations were issued by the Court to compel their appearance upon pain of being adjudged guilty of the offences charged in the Indictments and also of being killed by any person whatever with Impunity but whether those proclamations were ever published or set up according to the directions of the Riot Act so as to effect the attainder intended by it, is a material point and cannot be ascertained but by a Tryal in the Courts of Law.

To the second.

This question is also upon a point that will most probably come before the Court whenever any one of the persons who have taken Arms against his Majesty's Government shall be tried for such offences I therefore conceive it to be improper for me to give my opinion upon this question till it shall come in judgment before me

-------------------- page 334 --------------------

To the third.

It is not easy for me to say in what light the Legislature will view the Insurgents or whether their criminality will appear to them with greater dignity after a conviction than it would before but I give it as my opinion that if the peace and quiet of the Country is the object in view it would be wiser to pass a General Amnesty without making any further stir concerning the criminality of the Insurgents.

To the fourth.

I have no means to know what state any accused individual is in till a verdict of Jury has acquitted him or found him guilty if any of the Insurgents should be excepted in the proposed act of Grace they will be in the same state then that they are now that is subject to be taken up and tried by the Laws of their Country for any offences they may have committed.

M. HOWARD, C. J.

Hillsborh 24 Augst 1772.