Haskins v. Young, 19 N.C. 527, 2 Dev. & Bat. 527 (1837)

Dec. 1837 · Supreme Court of North Carolina
19 N.C. 527, 2 Dev. & Bat. 527


A warrant for the apprehension of a man’s person cannot he rightfully altered after it has finally left the hands of the magistrate who issued it. And if it be altered by another magistrate after it has been so issued, by inserting the name of another person to be apprehended, it will be no justification to the officer who executes it for taking such other person.

Where a person went voluntarily before a magistrate, and while there, an officer, to whom a warrant against him for a criminal charge was directed, said to him, “ there is a warrant against you; do you submit ?” and he answered that he did; and then entered into a recognizance for his appearance to answer the charge specified in the warrant, it was held to he an arrest amounting to an imprisonment of the person.

This was an action of the same kind with the preceding one of Mead v. Young, arose out of the same transaction, and was tried at the same time. In addition to the circumstances mentioned in that case, it is necessary to a proper understanding of the objections taken to the charge of the judge in this, to state, that the present plaintiff was in company with John A. Mead at the time of the beating of the slave of the defendant, Young, but was not arrested at the same time with Mead. The warrant sued out was granted by a magistrate, also of the name of Young, and a relation of Young, the defendant; but was returned before Mr. Reed, another magistrate of the county, because the magistrate who issued it refused, after it was issued, (on *528account of this connection,) to interfere any further with the matter. On reading the warrant, Mr. Reed remarked, that it called for the company, and inquired who were the company; upon which John A. Mead mentioned himself, the plaintiff, and Theophilus Mead; and thereupon Reed, without saying any thing to the magistrate, Young, who was in the room, but took no part in the proceedings, inserted the names of Theophilus Mead and of the plaintiff in the first part or recital of the warrant, so as to cause the same to read, that complaint had been made that John Mead-, Theophilus Mead, and Edward Haskins and company had beaten the slave of the defendant, Young; but made no alteration in the preceptive or mandatory part of the warrant, which yet remained, “ to apprehend the said company.” On hearing the evidence, the magistrate Reed decided on binding over the parties; when it was proposed (it does not appear by whom,) to send for the plaintiff; and the two Meads went for him. On his arrival, he was asked by the Magistrate if he was Haskins; and upon his answering in the affirmative, the defendant, Boyd, said to him, “ there is a warrant against you,” (pointing to the warrant upon the table,) “ do you submit 1” The plaintiff answered, that he did; and thereupon, after hearing what he had to say, the magistrate decided on binding him over also. The difficulties occurred about finding securities, which are stated in the case of Mead against these defendants. The deposit of money was made, as therein set forth, for the relief of Haskins, as well as of Mead; and on the succeeding day recognizance with sufficient security was entered into for the appearance of the plaintiff, at the ensuing term of the Court.

His Honor charged the jury, that the alteration made in the warrant by the magistrate Reed, without the authority of the magistrate Young, was illegal; and the arrest of the plaintiff under a warrant so altered, was without authority ; and that if the jury collected from what passed between the defendant Boyd and the plaintiff, after the latter came before the magistrate, and from what occurred afterwards, that the plaintiff submitted himself into custody, and was so considered and treated by the defen*529dants, then the plaintiff was arrested; and if arrested without authority, such arrest was in law a false imprisonment. The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff. The defendants appealed.

Gaston, Judge.

This action of trespass and false imprisonment has grown out of the same transaction which gave rise to the action of John A. Mead against these defendants, in which an opinion has just been pronounced. For the proper understanding of the exceptions taken in this case, it is necessary to state, in addition to the circumstances mentioned in the opinion referred to that, &c. (Here his Honor stated the circumstances of the case, and the charge of the judge thereupon, as mentioned above ; and then proceeded as follows:) We hold both parts of the charge to be correct. A warrant for the apprehension of a man’s person is an act of no unimportant character; and certainly no alteration can be rightfully made in it after it has finally left the hands of the magistrate who issued it. He decides upon his official responsibility, whether a warrant shall issue, and against whom it shall issue. Altered without his authority, it is no longer his warrant —and if it be not the warrant of the magistrate under whose signature it is sent forth, whose warrant is it ? It may be remarked, however, that independently of the ground upon which the judge held the apprehension of the plaintiff illegal, the warrant, supposing it rightfully altered, was yet open to the same objection which we have held fatal in the other case. In its mandatory part it contained no names of the persons to be arrested, nor in any way described them, but as the ‘ said company.’ We think, also, for the reasons given in the former cáse, that the other part of the instruction complained of was correct. Boyd, claiming authority to take the plaintiff under the warrant directed to Boyd, inquired of him whether he submitted to such arrest — received his submission — and detained him in custody under it until he ransomed his person from restraint. The judgment is affirmed.

Per Curiam. Judgment affirmed.