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Assistant Judge of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia.





Printed by C. Wiley, No. 28, Provost Street.


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, TO WIT. BE IT REMEMBERED, That on this 26th day of June, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and four, and in the twenty, eighth year of American Independence, William Cranch, of the said district, bath deposited in this office, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit:

.“ Reports of Cases, argued and adjudged in the Supreme Court of “ the United States in August and December terms, 1801, and February term, 1803.”

IN CONFORMITY to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled “ An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps,

charts and books to the authors and proprietors of "such copies during the time therein mentioned.”

Clerk of the District of Columbia.

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MUCH of that uncertainty of the law, which is so frequently, and perhaps so justly, the subject of complaint in this country, may be attributed to the want of American reports.

Many of the causes, which are the subject of litigation in our courts, arise upon circumstances peculiar to our situation and laws, and little information can be derived from English authorities to lead to a correct decision.

Uniformity, in such cases, cannot be expected where the judicial authority is shared among such a vast number of independent tribunals, unless the decisions of the various courts are made known to each other. Even in the same court, analogy of judgment cannot be maintained if its adjudications are suffered to be forgotten. It is therefore much to be regretted that so few of the gentlemen of the bar have been willing to undertake the task of reporting

In a government which is emphatically styled a government of laws, the least possible range ought to be left for the discretion of the judge. Whatever tends to render the laws certain, equalļy tends to limit that discretion; and perhaps nothing conduces more to that object than the publication of reports. Every case decided is a check upon the judge. He cannot decide a similar case differently, without strong reasons, which, for his own justification, he will wish to make public. The avenues

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