The Times, Wednesday, Sep 05, 1821; pg. 3; Issue 11343; col B


                              SUMMER ASSIZES.
                                    --------------
                     CARLISLE, FRIDAY, AUG. 31.

At half past six yesterday, both the Judges were conducted into this city by
John MARSHALL, Esq., the High Sheriff for the county. There are 12 prisoners in
the calendar, but there is no charge of importance. In the cause list there are
48 causes, and three of them have special juries.

                                       Nisi Prius.

Mr. Justice HOLROYD came into court at nine o'clock, and the first cause, being
an action for false imprisonment by a magistrate at the last election for the
city of Carlisle, attracted an immense crowd and excited very great interest.

     FALSE IMPRISONMENT. - CROSBY V. FORSTER, ESQ.

Messrs. BROUGHAM, LOSH, and TINDALL, conducted the plaintiff's case; Messrs.
SCARLETT, LITTLEDALE, and COURTENAY, the defendant's.

Mr. BROUGHAM. - May it please your Lordship, gentlemen of the Jury, the person
whom I have the honour of representing here is in very humble circumstances, a
joiner by profession, and having a wife and a large family. So far there is
nothing extraordinary in the case. But the injury which this person sustained,
the person who committed it, and the circumstances in which it was committed,
seem to me to call, if ever there was a case which called, for full and
deliberate consideration, and to require ample compensation in damages. The
defendant is a gentleman whose name and functions are well known to you - a
justice of the peace, an active magistrate - (active he will soon appear to you
to have been) - a gentleman of great wealth and respectability. At the last
election he was a warm partisan and attached to that party who were defeated. In
the latter part of the day, the 24th May, the plaintiff attended as a spectator.
He had been there before, but had retired early. On his return he found, what is
certainly an unusual sight on such occasions, a military force formed into a
hollow square. The people were waiting to hear the result of the day's polling,
which is usually a peaceful operation. But there the military were with muskets
and bayonets, and in the act of loading with ball-cartridges. There had been in
the morning what at present I am content to call disturbances, though they were
only the bustles and confusions which are perfectly usual at contested
elections. But I care not; I allow them to have been riotous proceedings; they
were over long before the period now in question. But as it is an idea that it
is always proper to read the riot act, because it is falsely thought that any
violence may afterwards be offered with impunity, the riot act had been read at
2 o'clock. But the plaintiff returned not till 3 o'clock, and knew nothing of
the operation of reading the riot act. He came back at the close of the poll,
and saw an extraordinary military array on the ground. Astonished, as well he
might, he and several others, he did what I will not say was his right, but what
was his duty to do - he enquired why this extraordinary and unsusual appearance
was made. When he went to Dr. HEYSHAM to make this inquiry, he took the right
and regular way. Dr. HEYSHAM is connected in local politics with the defendant.
The plaintiff asked Dr. HEYSHAM civilly and peaceably, why the soldiers were
there, whether the riot act had been read, where, and by whom. I believe he was
told it had been read by Dr. LOWRIE at two o'clock. The plaintiff was most
peaceably disposed: instead of aiding or bearing a part in any tumult, he was
occupied to allay the irritated feelings of those around him. So far was he from
considering himself excused for any violent act by seeing the military present,
that when others called out "Manchester massacre," and what not, he said, "Pray
be silent, it is no fault of the soldiers that they are here," in order to
prevent any ferment on the part of those around him. While so engaged, there was
a great pressure of the people to get to the centre, and the plaintiff was
thrust violently forward, and I understand against Dr. HEYSHAM. The doctor
turned round and seized him by the collar. Hardly a minute elapsed when Mr.
FORSTER seized him also, and gave him in charge to the soldiers, and desired him
to keep him and carry him to the Castle. I impute no blame to Dr. HEYSHAM. His
back had been turned; and, for aught I know or care, he acted rightly. Whether
Mr. FORSTER was right or not, is equally immaterial so far. Two hours afterwards
Mr. FORSTER thought proper to give a warrant "of commitment, and the warrant
directs the keeper of his Majesty's gaol in Carlisle, to detain William CROSBY
for an assault on Dr. HEYSHAM, for further examination." This shows that Mr.
FORSTER then knew nothing of it. But what did he do next, gentlemen? He never
inquired at all; there was no further examination; and I believe there would
have been no other warrant but for what I am to mention to you. This was on the
24th of May. Mr. FORSTER was bound within a convenient and reasonable time to
institute the examination, that the plaintiff might be no longer confined than
was necessary for the purpose of police and justice. But another warrant was
given on the 27th, of a very different description, and was followed by
consequences which are now complained of. It is a warrant to the constable of
Caldewgate, to deliver to the gaoler William CROSBY, "charged on the oath of
John HEYSHAM, Esq., for that he, the said William CROSBY, was then and there
with 12 or more, unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together, and
continued so unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled after the riot
act was read, and before the assault." No hour is mentioned. That alone is
wanting to make it a capital felony. The assault was thus mixed up with this
other offence, which it might puzzle any lawyer to separate from a felony. The
evident tendency was to make it be believed that he was committed, not for the
assault, but for a felony. They knew very well that the plaintiff was not five
minutes there after the riot act was read; but the warrant was so made out to
give it the colour and semblance of a commitment for felony. You will naturally
ask what took place between the 24th and 27th to cause this difference in the
conduct of Mr. Justice FORSTER. I will tell you, and you will then judge whether
he was a party man. On the 25th Mr. ELLIS, a very respectable gentleman, and the
Rev. Mr. STANLEY, took some interest in the liberation of CROSBY, and Mr.
FORSTER knew well what party they were of. Mr. ELLIS, concerned for a man
dragged from his family, ruined if his confinement should be continued, his wife
being nearly brought to bed, offered bail with a humanity that does him credit.
What was the answer of this conservator of the peace? Raising a stick which I
might call a bludgeon, without any figure of speech, he ordered him to get away
and not trouble him. Mr. STANLEY had learnt at the gaol that CROSBY was
committed for further examination. He waited three days, as a reasonable time
for examination, and called again on the 27th, when he learnt from the gaoler
that it was no longer a bailable offence. It was of no use to attempt any thing
further. From the 24th of May to the 24th of July CROSBY lay in gaol: his name
appeared in the calendar, for what, to all but a lawyer, appeared a capital
felony. This justice of the peace, who bound none to prosecute, who took no
examination, and who, if he took an oath, took it in the absence of the person
accused, to the astonishment of all, of the grand jury and others, wrote three
lines to the gaoler, ordering the immediate liberation of William CROSBY. He had
done enough - he had imprisoned for two months, and well nigh ruined the poor
man and his family. Now, gentlemen, it is unnecessary for me to say one word
more on the subject. If such things may be done with impunity, and no
compensation is to be given to him to whom they are done, in the language of a
reverend Judge on the Bench, a Judge as little disposed as any man to restrain
the right exercise of authority - I mean Mr. Justice PARK - if such things can
be done with impunity, and without redress in this country, it is no longer
worth living in. You will take care that it shall not, by giving to the
plaintiff a reasonable but fair compensation, and by teaching the defendant that
the authority intrusted to him is not for private, spiteful purposes, - not for
enabling him to serve a political party, or to swell his own personal pomp and
consequence, but for the public good, for protecting and not oppressing his
neighbour. You will take care to let him know, that if it is his duty to
preserve the King's peace, it is as much his duty not to violate the liberty of
the subject.