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ble considers it part of his duty to inquire whether the assault has not been provoked by libel or slander, if that is alleged, in some cases they consider themselves authorized to decide as to whether a report shall be presented; that is, in effect, whether a prosecution shall go on.
The centeniers are elected by the ratepayers of a parish for three years. The duties of these officers are subordinate to those of the connétable. If they seize any person for a misdemeanour, or a crime, they must make a written report of the attendant circumstances to the connétable, who presents it, together with the persons accused or arrested, to the Court. The office of centenier is, accordingly, one of trust and responsibility in the absence of the constable, the centenier may act as his substitute. The centenier is, moreover, a conservator of the peace, and can act independently of the constable in police cases, excepting that his report is addressed to the connétable, whereas the connétable reports to the Court. It might, then, reasonably be expected that officers thus intrusted with important local duties should possess some modicum of legal knowledge, some slight conception of the requirements and formalities of criminal procedure. It does not seem, however, that this is sufficiently cared for by our Jersey neighbours.
"In one instance a centenier of St. Helier's had in his hand a forged bank-note, which had been traced to a party who said that he had received it of a person whom he did not know. The centenier proposed to this party that he should pay the amount to the holder, and that the note should be destroyed; and this being acceded to, the centenier himself burnt the note in the presence of the two." "He did not," remark the Commissioners, " appear to have understood that there was other than a pecuniary question between two parties; and the importance of preserving evidence of the crime had, as far as we could judge, not suggested itself to him." This officer, nevertheless, had been centenier for three years, and a police officer of a lower rank for many years.-(Report, p. 38.)
It is, however, but fair to call to mind that since the date of the Report of the Commissioners, important changes have been effected by the States, with the sanction of her Majesty
VOL. I. NO. I.
in Council. A Court has been established for minor criminal offences, the judge of which is the Bailiff, the LieutenantBailiff, or one of the jurats specially appointed by the Bailiff. The judge of this Court sits four days a week, or oftener if necessary. All persons arrested by the police must be presented at this Court; and the judge, after hearing witnesses, is empowered, for minor offences, to sentence the offender to an imprisonment not exceeding eight days, and in graver cases he can decide whether there are grounds for committing the accused parties to prison for trial before the Royal Court, or whether they may be liberated, or admitted to bail.
The judge of the Police Court is also the judge of a new Court for the recovery of debts not exceeding 51.
Important changes have also been introduced in the constitution of the police. The officiers du connétable are now no longer elected by the parish assemblies, but by the inhabitants, or rather ratepayers of districts. The number of centeniers in the parishes of St. Helier's and St. Martin's has been increased, and the powers of the police officers have been enlarged. In addition to these changes, is also the appointment of a paid police, particularly for night duty, in the town of St. Helier's. Let us now say one word specifically respecting the volume before us. It is evidently written bond fide, and by one who has a thorough acquaintance with the various topics of which it treats. Mr. Le Quesne speaks fully and clearly of the constitutional history, laws, and customs of the island of Jersey; we are, nevertheless, struck with one omission in his work:-he does not sufficiently indicate the legal relations which subsist betwixt the island and its fostering parent. He does, indeed, speak of the right of appeal from the Royal Court to the Queen in Council; he does enter at considerable length into the doings of the various Commissions emanating from the Crown, which have from time to time inquired into and made suggestions for improving the local institutions of Jersey; but he does not speak at all of the jurisdiction which our Courts may exercise therein by writ of Habeas corpus, nor of the various important cases in which the extent of that jurisdiction has been discussed and finally determined. It is impossible that
our author, a jurat of the Royal Court, and manifestly conversant with his duties, can be ignorant of Carus Wilson's case (7 Q. B. 984); of the somewhat elaborate judgment of Lord Langdale in re Belson (7 Moore P. C. C. 114), and other decisions touching the matter in question, which are to be found in the recent English law reports, but which we care not just now to enumerate. It would, we think, have been more becoming in the author of a book of six hundred pages on local constitutional law, not wholly to have ignored the existence of the writ of Habeas corpus, nor to have abstained from presenting to his readers some information-brief and succinct though it might be touching the efficacy and applicability of that writ in the island, whose institutions he has proposed to himself to illustrate and describe.
Thus qualified, we must, however, accord sincere praise to the author of "A Constitutional History of Jersey," for the manner in which he has performed his by no means light or easy task; and we doubt not, from the internal evidence which his book affords, that by him the scales of Justice are held equally, and her decrees impartially awarded, when sitting as a jurat of the Royal Court.
ART III.-LIFE PEERAGES.
NE of the most important questions of constitutional law which have been raised for many years, was forced upon Parliament by the very ill-advised, and, it may most confidently be said, ill-considered-apparently, indeed, never at all considered-measure of creating Sir James Parke, on his retiring from the Bench, a Baron of the United Kingdom for and during the term of his life, instead of the ordinary limitation to the heirs male of his body. An opinion had prevailed among lawyers, grounded entirely upon a very loose and inaccurate passage in Lord Coke's First Institute, that the prerogative of the Crown extended to legalize such a grant.
When the matter was
examined closely, this opinion appeared to be erroneous; but at all events, if the prerogative ever existed, it was admitted that it had not been exercised for centuries; and this of itself, if not decisive of the question, was at least an undoubted reason for fully considering the legality of the patent before the Crown was advised to issue it. Nevertheless, it turns out that the ordinary precaution had not been taken of requiring the opinion of the Crown lawyers, and there is no doubt entertained in Westminster Hall that their answers would have been given against the grant, because it is well known that such is now the opinion of those learned persons. We are not about to enter at large into this discussion, upon which the most ample information will be found in the paper of Mr. Lewis, read before the Juridical Society; the pamphlet of Mr. Macqueen; and the speeches of Lords Brougham, Campbell, and St. Leonard's, corrected and published by themselves. It is much to be lamented that Lord Lyndhurst, whose motion gave rise to the debate in the House of Lords, did not pursue the same course; but the report of his speech in Hansard is given with great fulness. We shall only bring a few propositions before our readers, sufficient to explain the grounds upon which, whatever doubts may for a moment have been entertained in consequence of the subject never having been narrowly examined, all lawyers are now satisfied that there exists no such power in the Crown as that of which the Ministers, without inquiry, almost without reflection, advised the exercise.
The validity of any claim of prerogative must of necessity depend upon the exercise of that prerogative. If any branch of the constitution has been in the practice of using certain powers, it is presumable that its claim to possess them has been undisputed by the other branches, and acquiesced in by the nation at large. If it has been opposed in the exercise of them, and has notwithstanding persisted, until the opposition ceased, and then the exercise was continued, the possession of the right
1 Mr. Macqueen's Letter to Lord Lyndhurst incidentally touches on the subject, but not so satisfactorily as might have been expected from one so peculiarly learned on the constitution of the House of Lords. It contains important information on the history of the Lords' jurisdiction.
became even more clear than if it never had been questioned. But a power only exercised in a few instances, even if unresisted, more especially if these instances occurred two centuries ago, can only be admitted as lawful if established by positive law, either by statute or by judicial declaration of the common law. Now, the power claimed for the Crown, of granting peerages for life, is admitted never to have been exercised for much more than two centuries; it is, indeed, not shown that in a single instance a commoner ever was admitted to sit in Parliament upon a creation for life, unless that title was given by assent of the other estates, and was, therefore, a statutory creation; but all the alleged cases are in times when the constitution could not be said to exist in the form which it has assumed for the last century and a half; that is, since the Revolution.
The supposed precedents in favour of the Crown, drawn from the times of the Plantagenets and the Tudors, are manifestly of no value whatever. They would be of little more weight were they in the times of the Stuarts. To be assured of this, we need only recollect the exercise of the prerogative in those days; nay, its undisputed, and, far more, its unrestricted, exercise on many things of the greatest importance, and on which it is now admitted on all hands that such prerogative is illegal, although neither Act of Parliament nor judicial decision have declared it to be so. One of the Plantagenet kings prohibited, by the writs issued, any lawyer being elected to serve for a county; one of the Tudors sent his instructions to a sheriff to return one of his servants; boroughs were constantly enfranchised and disfranchised by the writs being sent to them or withheld; and Queen Elizabeth in this way gave, of her own mere will and pleasure, the power to petty boroughs of returning no less than sixty members. All these, and other prerogatives of the same age, were exercised without dispute; and they were never declared illegal by any statute, nor by any decision of either the Houses themselves, or the Courts of Law. Indeed, we have sufficient proof of the meekness with which the judges received the most violent stretches of prerogative, when by a majority of their number, after the fullest argument at the bar, they pronounced their memorable decree in the case of ship