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There were two courtrooms, one at each end with fireplaces. This was in order to accommodate both the local courts as well as the federal circuit and district courts with their respective clerks and marshal. Of course, the courtrooms were supplied with sufficient spittoons. The Greek Revival courthouse was in use until , when it was demolished to make way for yet a later court building.
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The leading lawyers of the Savannah bar during these years included James Moore Wayne, destined to become a justice of the U. District Attorney in due to the imminent collision between the administrations of President Adams and Governor Troup. When the state was divided up into judicial circuits in , the Eastern Circuit contained the counties of Burke south to that of Camden.
County after county, except Chatham, Bryan, and Mcintosh, were taken out and placed into other circuits.
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As the early roads and bridges were bad or non-existent, travelling the early circuit was a strenuous affair. Generally, the judge, lawyers, litigants, and witnesses often travelled together from court town to court town, staying together in public houses or taverns. The clerk of court packed the necessary court records and papers onto a wagon, and off they went.
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Of course, there was considerable conviviality, and cardplaying, drinking, and swapping stories was the order of the day. On one occasion, there was so much conviviality that the prisoners were able to escape before they could be tried, the court officers and lawyers all having fallen asleep. Travelling the circuit could also be dangerous. Judge George Walton, himself, was attacked and beaten by highwaymen on his way to court.
On another occasion, a stagecoach full of lawyers went into the Ogeechee River when the bridge collapsed. The most successful lawyers were the bold ones. Joe was attending court on the circuit, and arrived one evening at a tavern in a rural courthouse village. Passing through a crowd of people before the door, he entered the sitting room. Here one man was seated before the fire, sprawled out on several chairs, with his hat cocked on one side, chewing tobacco and spitting right and left around him, while the landlord stood behind the bar with his hands in his pockets and a most disconsolate look upon his face.
Taking his seat with his back to the wall, Joe Jackson took out a paper and began to read, first calling to the landlord for a glass of brandy. Seeing the drink placed in front of Joe, the man by the fire got up, threw his tobacco quid into the fireplace and deliberately walked to Joe's table. There he took Joe's drink and saying, "Stranger, your good health," drank the contents and wiped his mouth.
He then walked back to his seat by the fire, cut a quid from his tobacco and recommenced chewing.
Joe Jackson quietly called for another glass. When it was placed on the table the scene was enacted as before, but with a different conclusion. As the bully said, "Stranger, your good health," and reached out to take the glass, Joe slammed his dirk through the man's hand, pinning it firmly to the table. Rising and bowing politely, Joe said, "Stranger, your good health," drank the brandy, drew the dirk from the bully's transfixed hand, returned it to its sheath, and sitting down quietly, resumed his reading. As he ran out the door the wounded man was stopped by the witnesses who asked him what he was going to do.
He replied as he rushed out, "I'm a gwine to let that 'ere feller alone! The lawyers of that day wore no robes. Instead, they wore black coats and trousers, boots, and stovepipe hats.
Their vests were topped by a white shirt with a straight or rolled collar secured at the throat by a stock. In he slipped aboard a ship bound for Boston. When he reached that port, he attempted to pass himself off as a Spaniard after having been caught in the act of burglary. Upon examination, his true identity became known. After Sims' capture, James Potter had Robert Milledge Charlton, the former judge of superior court and mayor of Savannah, prepare for him a special power of attorney to Mordecai S.
DeLyon and John B. Bacon authorizing and directing them to proceed to Boston and obtain the return of Sims to Savannah. The ensuing habeas corpus hearing in Boston turned on the authenticity of Charlton's power of attorney and the carefully-worded authorization it contained. Seth J. Thomas, the Massachusetts lawyer representing DeLyon and Bacon, obtained the dismissal of Sims' action. Despite the formation of an immense mob to stop them, DeLyon and Bacon successfully brought Sims back to Savannah.
He became one of the few fugitive slaves returned to the South pursuant to the Fugitive Slave Act. After the war he worked for the government in Washington, D. Tom Sims' brother James M. Simms became the first black judge in Georgia in James Potter, the owner of Colerain Plantation, died during the war and was buried in New Jersey, his residence.
From time to time the state legislature changed the jurisdiction of the Court of Common Pleas. Minor changes of the structure and jurisdiction of the City Court continued until , when the jurisdictional limits of the City Court of Savannah were significantly expanded so as to embrace Chatham County. Despite this, in the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the City Court of Savannah was a "city controlled" court rather than a "county controlled" court.
The rapid growth in popularity and usage of the City Court led to yet another name change, one finally recognizing its county-wide jurisdiction. The State Court of Chatham County is not only the oldest small claims court in Georgia, but remains unique among such tribunals in the state. The State Court remains one of the most popular of Chatham County's courts. In the U.
Congress passed an act which effectively ended the importation of slaves into the country. Pursuant to the Non-lmportation Act of Congress of 15 May , moreover, Congress declared the African slave trade to be piracy, punishable by death. Consequently, when the yacht Wanderer was taken off of Jekyl lsland in , and it was discovered that she was a slaver, the identification of those involved set off a furor in Georgia. Not only did it involve Charles A. The Wanderer was one of five such vessels fitted out for the slave trade over a period of eighteen months.
This fleet was financed with northern capital, built in New England docks, and cleared from northern ports, principally Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The head of the revolting business was a New Yorker named Corrie. Several investors had purchased the Wanderer from Corrie.