SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
DeWitt Colony Government-Index
Official Documents, Laws, Decrees, and Regulations Pertaining to Austin's Colonies
CIVIL REGULATIONS 22 Jan 1824
Charged by the superior authorities of the Mexican nation with the administration of justice in this colony until its organization is completed, and observing that much difficulty and confusion arise from the want of copies of the laws and forms which regulate judicial proceedings before the alcaldes, it having been impracticable as yet to obtain them with translations, I have thought proper, in order to remedy these embarrassments and to establish an uniform mode of process before the alcaldes throughout the colony, to form provisionally, and until the supreme government directs otherwise, the following regulations:
ARTICLE 1. There shall be appointed by the judge of the colony an alguazil (sheriff) to serve the process and execute the decrees of the said judge, and also a constable for each district to serve the process of the alcaldes, who shall, before they enter upon the duties of their office, take an oath to support the Constitution of the Mexican nation and faithfully to discharge the duties of their office. The alguazil shall give bond, with at least two securities, in the sum of one thousand dollars, and the constable shall give bond and security in the sum of five hundred dollars, each conditioned faithfully to account for and pay over all money collected by them according to law; the securities of the alguazil and constable shall be approved of by the alcaldes, subject to the revision of the judge, which bond shall be in form following: We, or either of us, promise to pay to the judge of Austins colony the sum of one thousand dollars, or five hundred dollars (as the case may be), for the payment of which we bind ourselves, our heirs, and assigns. The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas L. M., one of the parties to this bond, has been appointed alguazil (or constable, as the case may be) of the District of in said colony; now, therefore, should the said L. M. well and truly execute and discharge the duties of said office of alguazil (or constable, as the case may be) and pay over all moneys collected by him in his official capacity according to law, then this bond shall be null and void; otherwise to be in full force. Witness : A. B., Alcalde.
ART. 2.-The alcalde of each district shall keep a docket or register of all his official acts, which shall be headed Docket of the District of - during the administration of - alcalde of said district for the year -, which shall be certified at the end in the form following: I certify that the foregoing docket, composed of - pages, contains a true record of all my official proceedings as alcalde of the District of -, in the year - A. B., Alcalde. Which docket, thus certified, shall be delivered by the alcalde to his successor in office, together with all the official papers and a transcript of all the suits and other unfinished business then pending, all which shall be finished by the alcalde in its regular order; and should a vacancy occur in the office of alcalde before the regular term of service expires, the new alcalde appointed to fill said vacancy shall immediately take possession of said docket and of all the official papers.
ART. 3.-Any person having cause of complaint against another within the jurisdiction of an alcalde must present a written petition to the alcalde of the proper district, stating in a short but clear manner the cause and nature of his complaint, to which the alcalde will attach a summons in the form following: Austins Colony, District of -. The constable of said district is commanded to summons the above-named C. D., if to be found in the above district, to appear before me, A. B., Alcalde of said district, at my office (or wherever the suit is to be tried), between the hours of nine o'clock A.M. and three o'clock P.M., on the - day of -, to answer the above complaint of E. F., and on or before that day this summons and the proceedings thereon must be returned to my office. Given this - day of -- A. B., Alcalde.
ART. 4-The alcalde will fix the return day of the summons at his discretion, according to the situation of the parties or peculiar circumstances of the case, allowing a reasonable time for the service of the summons and the attendance of the parties. The summons must be served by the constable at least five days before the return-day, allowing, in addition, one day for every fifteen miles travel to the place where the summons is made returnable.
ART. 5-The constable, in serving the summons, shall read to defendant the complaint and the summons, in order that he may know what he has to answer to.
ART. 6. -Should defendant be absent from the district, it shall be a lawful summons to leave a copy of the complaint and summons, certified by the constable, at defendants house, or last place of residence, with some one of his white family.
ART. 7-Should defendant not appear, either in person or by agent, on the day appointed for the return of the summons, judgment by default may be entered against him by the alcalde, at his discretion, according to the circumstances of the case, and a notice shall then be issued by the alcalde, and served on him by the constable in form following: District of -, judgment by default was entered in my office, on the - day of -, against C. D. in favor of E. F., for the sum of $-- and costs of suit; the constable of said district is therefore commanded to notify said C. D. that unless he appears before me, at my office, on the - day of -, between the hours of nine oclock A.M. and three P.M., and shows cause why said judgment should not be final, execution will issue thereon, at which time and place this notice and the proceedings thereon must be returned. Given under my hand this - day of -. A. B., Alcalde, which notice shall be served in the same manner as in a case of a summons. The cost of said notice and of the service thereof shall in all cases be paid by defendant.
ART. 8.-Should the plaintiff not appear either in person or by agent on the day appointed, the suit shall be dismissed at his cost.
ART. 9.-On the appearance of the parties either in person or by agent, it shall be the duty of the alcalde to try, in the first place, to effect an amicable compromise between them; should this be ineffectual, and the sum in dispute is over ten dollars, he shall demand whether either of the parties wish for an arbitration, and if neither of them wish it, the alcalde shall then proceed to determine the case according to evidence, and give judgment.
ART. 10.-If the sum in dispute exceeds ten dollars, and either party demands an arbitrator, the alcalde shall direct each of them to choose one arbitrator. He shall then at his discretion appoint a day for trial, so as to allow a reasonable time for the arbitrators and witnesses to attend, and issue a summons for the arbitrators, to be served by the constable in the form following: District of -, E. F. versus C. D. The constable of said district is commanded to summon G. H. and J. K. to appear before me, at my office (or wherever the case is to be tried), on the - day of -, between the hours of nine oclock A.M. and three o'clock P.M., to serve as arbitrators in the above suit, at which time and place this summons and the proceedings thereon must be returned to me. Given, etc. A. B., Alcalde.
ART. 11. -No person can be an arbitrator who is related to either party nearer than the fourth degree, or who is in any manner interested in the event of the suit, directly or indirectly, or who is notoriously a man of bad character.
ART. 12. -Any person summoned as an arbitrator shall serve, unless excused by the alcalde, under the fine of ten dollars.
ART. 13-The arbitrators shall receive fifty cents, and five cents mileage going and returning, to be taxed with the other costs.
ART. 14.-On the appearance of the arbitrators at the time and place appointed, the alcalde shall first swear the arbitrators to answer truly to such questions as he may ask, and the alcalde shall then put the following interrogations to each of them: Are you related to either of the parties in this case nearer than the fourth degree? Are you in any manner interested in the event of this suit, directly or indirectly? And should it appear to the satisfaction of the alcalde that neither of them were related to either party, nor interested in the event of the suit, nor were of infamous character, he shall swear them impartially to try and determine the suit or controversy then pending between E. F. and C. D., and to give a true verdict according to evidence. The alcalde shall then swear the witnesses, and in conjunction with the arbitrators proceed to hear the evidence and decide the case; any two of them concurring shall be sufficient to give a verdict, on which judgment shall be entered by the alcalde. Should the arbitrators not attend, or be rejected for cause, others shall be named and summoned, and a new day of trial appointed.
ART. 15.-The alcalde may, at his discretion, postpone a case and appoint a new day of trial for want of evidence, on either party showing on oath, to the satisfaction of the alcalde, that due diligence has been used to procure his evidence; provided that said postponement shall be at the cost of the party applying for it.
ART. 16.-The jurisdiction of the alcaldes shall extend to all sums under two hundred dollars; sums over that amount will be decided by the judge of the colony.
ART. 17. -The decision of the alcalde alone shall be final in all sums under ten dollars, and in all sums over ten and under twenty-five, the decision of the alcalde alone (if no arbitrator was demanded), or of the arbitrators if they were called on, shall also be final.
ART. 18.-The judgment shall in all cases conform, as nearly as practicable, to the contract of the parties; that is, if the contract is for money, the judgment be for money, and if property, or a specific kind of property, the judgment must be entered accordingly always taking into consideration the value of the property at the time the debt was due, and the loss sustained by not receiving it according to contract; and the execution must issue for so much in cash, or so much in property, according to the judgment and the circumstances of the case.
ART. 19. -Stay of execution may be allowed by the alcaldes, at their discretion, according to the situation of the parties or the peculiar circumstances of the case on giving good security as follows: On all sums under twenty-five dollars, twenty five days; on all sums over twenty-five dollars and under fifty dollars, forty days; on sums over fifty dollars and under seventy-five dollars, sixty days; on sums over seventy-five dollars and under one hundred dollars, eighty days; on sums over one hundred and under one hundred and fifty dollars, one hundred days; and on sums over one hundred and fifty dollars, one hundred and twenty days. The alcaldes may at their discretion allow ten days for the party to procure the securities for stay of execution.
ART. 20.-Either party shall have the right of appealing from the decision of the alcalde where the sum exceeds twenty-five dollars, by giving at least two good and sufficient securities, to be approved of by the alcalde, subject to the revision of the judge of the colony, for double- the amount of the judgment and costs. The party wishing to appeal shall notify the alcalde thereof when the judgment is declared, and ten days may then be allowed him at the discretion of the alcalde to procure his securities. The alcalde shall enter on his docket that the party had given notice of his intention to appeal, and shall write an appeal-bond in form following: We, or either of us, promise to pay the sum of $- to E. F., for the payment of which we bind ourselves, our heirs, and assigns. The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas the said E. F. obtained a judgment against C. D., one of the parties to this bond, before A. B., Alcalde for the District of -, in Austins Colony, on the - day of -, for the sum of $- debt and damages and --- dollars costs of suit, from which judgment said C. D. appeals; now, therefore, should the said C. D. prosecute said appeal and fully execute and comply with the judgment which the judge of this colony may give on said appeal, and pay to said E. F. the amount of money or property awarded to him by the judgment of said judge, together with the costs of suit, then this obligation to be null and void, otherwise to be in full force. Given under our hands this - day of -- Witness, A. B., Alcalde. And should the plaintiff appeal, the bond shall be taken for double the amount of the costs already accrued, and conditioned to abide by the final judgment of the judge of the colony. The alcalde shall then enter upon his docket the date and amount of the bond and the names of the securities, and shall make out a transcript of all the proceedings in the case and send them up within twenty days, together with the appeal-bond and all the depositions and papers of the case, in a sealed packet, to the judge of the colony. Should the judge of the colony decide that the appeal was entered for frivolous causes for the object of delay, he shall condemn the appellant to pay the appellee twenty per cent. damages on the amount of the judgment.
ART. 21.-Should no stay of execution nor appeal be entered, an execution shall issue returnable at the discretion of the alcalde within sixty days, which execution shall be in the form following: Austins Colony, District of -, E. F. versus C. D. The constable of said district is hereby commanded to seize and expose to public sale, according to law, the property of C. D., the defendant in the above suit, or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay E. F., the plaintiff in the above suit, the sum of $- and costs of suit, being the amount of a judgment entered in my office on the - day of - against said C. D. in favor of E. F.; and should the said C. D. have no property, the constable is commanded to take the body of said C. D. and bring him to me at my office. This execution and proceedings thereon must be returned to my office within - days. Given this ~ day of-.
ART. 22.-The constable shall, as soon as may be after the receipt of said execution, levy upon and seize as much property of the person against whom it is issued as will be sufficient to satisfy the debt and costs, and shall then advertise the same for sale, giving at least thirty days notice in case of real property, negroes, or imperishable property, and at least ten days notice in case the property is of a perishable nature or is in danger of being destroyed or lost by longer delay; which notice shall be posted up in at least four of the most public and conspicuous places in the district.
ART. 23-In case no property belonging to defendant can be found by the constable and his body should be seized, the alcalde shall examine into his circumstances, and should it appear to the satisfaction of the alcalde that defendant has not fraudulently conveyed his property out of his hands, or concealed it to elude the payment of his just debts, he shall discharge him; but should it appear to the satisfaction of the alcalde that defendant has fraudulently conveyed away or concealed his property, then in such case the alcalde may at his discretion hire out the defendant to the highest bidder until his wages paid the debt.
ART. 24-Should any one make oath to the satisfaction of the alcalde that any person was justly indebted to him in a specific sum then due or due at some future period, and that said person was about to abscond or remove from the colony, or was about to remove his property, so that the debt was in danger of being lost, the alcalde may at his discretion issue an attachment returnable forthwith to seize the property of the person thus about to remove or abscond, or to seize his person and detain said property or the person until a judgment and execution should issue in the case; provided that said attachment may be raised and the property and person released on giving good and sufficient appearance bail, to be approved by the alcalde, and provided that the person suing out said attachment gives sufficient security to indemnify the defendant, should it appear that the attachment was sued out without just cause.
ART. 25-Should it appear to the alcalde that any person who was security for the stay of execution, or security on an appeal-bond, or in a special bail-bond, or security for a constable, was about to abscond, or remove from the colony, or was about to remove his property so that it could not be come at in the event of its becoming liable, he may at his discretion detain such person or said property until other and satisfactory security was entered.
ART. 26-Should any person make oath to the satisfaction of the alcalde that any one was about to remove out of this colony any property to which such person had the legal possession for the time being, but not a legal title, and that such property was in danger of being lost to its legal owner by such removal, the alcalde may at his discretion cause such person to appear forthwith before him with the said property, and compel him to give up said property to its legal owner, or give security that it should not be removed out of this colony.
ART. 27.-In all cases where the cause of action accrued out of this nation, neither party being a citizen or inhabitant of this nation at the time when the debt was contracted, application must be made to the judge of the colony.
ART. 28.-In case the right of property should be disputed, the alcalde shall summon the parties to appear before him and decide the case.
ART. 29.-The alcalde may at his discretion appoint one regular court day per month, and make all summonses returnable accordingly.
ART. 30-The following is established as the fee-bill of the several officers mentioned :
Issuing a criminal warrant 4 bits.
For a forthwith summons 3
Subpoena for arbitration 2
Entering stay of execution 2
Entering appeal and writing appeal-bond 8
Issuing execution 2
Entering special bail and taking bond in case of attachment 3
Do recording, for every 100 words 1/2
ALGUAZIL AND CONSTABLE FEES.
Serving criminal warrant 8 bits.
Serving a forthwith warrant 4
Summoning arbitrators or jury 3
Mileage going and returning 5 cents a mile.
Levying an execution 2 bits.
Selling property and collecting money 4 per cent on sums under $200 and 1 per cent on every $100 after.
Given at the town of San Felipe de Austin, in the province of Texas, this 22d day of January, 1824, fourth year of independence and third year of the liberty of the Mexican nation. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN.
ADDITIONAL ARTICLES DICTATED BY THE POLITICAL CHIEF OF THE PROVINCE OF TEXAS 23 May 1824
ARTICLE 31. -Should any person take up a stray animal that appears to have been owned by some one, he shall within eight days give notice thereof to the alcalde of the district, in writing, together with a full description of the stray, its marks and brands, which written description must be certified to be correct by at least two disinterested witnesses. The alcalde shall enter said notice in his recordbook and immediately advertise the same; and should no owner appear within six months to claim said stray, the alcalde shall sell it at a public sale and deliver the proceeds to the political chief of the colony, to be deposited in the funds of the colony, to be paid over to the legal owner if called for within one year, and if not called for in that time, to be applied to public uses. There shall be allowed to the person who takes up a stray one dollar if it is a horse or mare, one dollar and a half if it is a mule, and half a dollar if it is a yearling, and a reasonable compensation for taking up the stray, to be decided by the alcalde.
ART. 32.-Each person will choose his own mark or brand, and enter it on record in the office of the alcalde of the district, who may receive twenty-five cents therefor: and a person who has thus recorded his mark or brand shall have the preference thereto over any other; and should another settle near him with a similar mark or brand, the alcalde may compel him to alter it. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. SAN FELIPE DE AUSTIN, May 23, 1824---4th and 3d.
In the town of San Felipe de Austin, 24th May, 1824. José Antonio Saucedo, first member of the most excellent deputation, and political chief of the province of Texas, having seen the thirty-two articles which are contained in the foregoing regulations, and informed of their contents by means of the translation which I have received of them in the Spanish language, and considering how important the observance of all and each one of them is for the preservation of good order in this new colonial establishment, I have approved them, as by this decree I do approve them, in order that they may provisionally and temporarily govern; and in all cases that may occur, all the territorial authorities shall be regulated by them in this district until sanction and circulation are given to the Constitution and general laws of the government, and particularly those of the state; ordering that after having published them in customary form copies shall be made, authorized by the principal judge, Stephen F. Austin, and delivered to the respective alcaldes for their observance and compliance. By this act I order it, and have signed it in presence of two witnesses, for the want of a secretary, as is required in such cases, and to this I give full faith. JOSÉ ANTONIO SAUCEDO. Witnesses DAVID MCCORMICK. JOHN AUSTIN.
CRIMINAL REGULATIONS 22 Jan 1824
TO ALL PERSONS-Charged by the superior authorities of the Mexican nation with the government of this colony until its organization is completed, and observing that the public peace and safety of the settlers is jeopardized by the pilfering depredations of strolling parties of Indians and robbers, and also that the good order of the colony is endangered by the introduction and transit of men of bad character and its good morals scandalized by their irregular conduct, I have thought proper, in order more effectually to insure good government, security, and tranquillity, to decree as follows :
ARTICLE 1.-On the appearance of any Indian or Indians in the neighborhood of any of the settlements of this colony, whose conduct justifies a belief that their intentions are to steal, or commit hostilities, or who threaten any settler, or are rude to women or children, it shall be the duty of all and every person to take such Indian or Indians into custody, if in his or their power to do so, and convey them forthwith to the nearest alcalde, or captain of militia, avoiding the use of arms in all cases, unless compelled to resort to them.
ART. 2.-In case the Indian or Indians mentioned in the last article should be so numerous as to require a strong party to take them, and the men in the immediate neighborhood are insufficient, it shall be the duty of the persons who first discovered them, or who are the most interested in their removal, to give notice thereof to the nearest captain of the militia; and should it appear probable to said captain that said Indians are of suspicious character, or that they have behaved improperly, he shall forthwith call out as many men as may be necessary to pursue and take said Indians prisoners, always avoiding the use of arms, if possible.
ART. 3-The alcalde or captain before whom said Indians are brought shall examine them, hearing testimony as to their conduct; and should it appear that said Indians are of a suspicious character, or that they live at a distance and are rambling through the province without license from the proper authority, and under suspicious circumstances, it shall be the duty of the said alcalde or captain to order said Indians to depart immediately from the neighborhood of all the settlements of this colony under the penalty of receiving severe chastisement if taken under similar circumstances a second time, and they shall be sent under guard beyond the settlement or delivered to the chiefs of their nation, who shall be informed of the circumstances of the case and admonished to keep their men at home.
ART. 4-Should it appear on examination as aforesaid that said Indians had been rude to or ill-treated any settlers without cause or provocation, it shall be the duty of said alcalde or captain to punish said Indian or Indians according to the nature of the offence, with any number of lashes not exceeding twenty-five, and, if deemed necessary, send them under guard beyond the limits of the settlements or deliver them to the chiefs of their nation, giving an account of their conduct and the punishment they had received.
ART. 5-No person within this colony shall ill-treat or in any manner abuse any Indian or Indians without just cause, under the penalty of one hundred dollars fine for the first offence, and two hundred dollars for the second, but shall treat them at all times and in all places in a friendly, humane, and civil manner so long as they deserve it.
ART. 6.-Should any murder, theft, robbery, or other depredations be committed, it shall be the duty of any person to apprehend the criminal or criminals concerned in it, if in his or their power to do so, and convey him or them to the nearest alcalde, for which purpose they are authorized to use arms. If the criminal criminals have fled or are in force, information shall be given on oath to the nearest militia officer or alcalde, who shall forthwith raise men and follow the criminal or criminals, and should he or they be overtaken and refuse to surrender or attempt to escape by flight, the officer in command may order his men to fire on and kill said criminal or criminals, he being always responsible for the death or ill treatment of an innocent person. The prisoners shall be brought in and delivered to the alcalde of the district for trial, and the stolen property recovered shall also be delivered - to the said alcalde to be returned to the legal owners; and should any property be taken belonging to the criminal or criminals, it shall also be delivered to the alcalde, who shall immediately send an inventory thereof, together with an exact account of all the proceedings in the case, to the superior judge of the colony.
ART. 7. -No gambling of any description, under any pretext or name, shall be permitted in this colony, and the person or persons who violates this article shall be fined, on conviction thereof, in a sum not less than twenty nor more than two hundred dollars; and, moreover, shall forfeit the wheel, table, cards, or other instrument, thing, or machine used for gambling; and the person who permits any gambling in his house or on his premises shall be fined in a sum of not less than twenty nor more than two hundred dollars. Horse-racing being calculated to improve the breed of horses is not included in the above prohibition, but no debt contracted thereby shall be recoverable in law.
ART. 8.-Profane swearing and drunkenness are misdemeanors against the good morals and good order of the colony, and any person convicted thereof shall be fined in a sum not less than one dollar and more than ten. Any person convicted of habitual drunkenness shall, moreover, be liable to be imprisoned in the common jail, any number of hours not exceeding forty-eight. The alcalde shall execute and carry into full effect this article without first sending the proceedings to the superior judge, as is provided in the nineteenth article.
ART. 9.-Living publicly with a woman as man and wife without first lawfully united by the bands of matrimony is a gross violation of the laws of this nation, and a high misdemeanor, and the man or woman who is convicted thereof shall be fined in a sum not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred, and be liable to be condemned to hard labor on public works until the superior government of the province decides the case. This article is not to take effect as regards the cases that now exist until sixty days after the arrival of the curate of this colony.
ART. 10.-No person within this colony shall harbor or protect any runaway slave belonging to any person within this colony, or out of it, but shall immediately give information or deliver said slave to his owner, or to an alcalde, if the slave belongs within this colony, and to the superior judge, if such slave is from a foreign country, or any part of the nation. Any person who violates this article shall, on conviction thereof, pay all the damages which the owner of such slave may sustain in consequence of the loss of his labor, and shall, moreover, be finable in any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, and be condemned to hard labor on public works until the superior government decides on the case.
ART. 11. -Any person who shall be convicted of stealing any slave or slaves, or enticing, or inducing them to run away, shall be fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars, and be condemned to hard labor on the public works until the superior government decides on the case.
ART. 12. -Any slave who shall steal any money or property shall, on conviction thereof, be punished with any number of lashes not less than ten nor more than one hundred, and the property shall be returned; the owner or his agent shall be notified to attend at the trial. Should the owner or his agent not wish to have the slave whipped, he shall have the privilege of preventing it by paying three times the amount of the property stolen, one-third of which shall go to the owner of the property and the other two-thirds to public uses; the master to pay the costs.
ART. 13. -And it shall be the duty of every person who shall find any slave from his masters premises without a pass from his master or overseer to tie him up and give him ten lashes; and should the appearance of such slave justify the belief that he had run away, it shall be the duty of the person who takes him up to deliver him to his owner or overseer or to the nearest alcalde, who shall immediately notify the master thereof, and the said owner or his agent shall in such cases pay to the person apprehending said negro, and to the alcalde, should said slave be delivered to him, all reasonable costs and expenses.
ART. 14.-No person shall trade or traffic with any slave without permission from the owner or his agent, under the penalty of paying a fine of not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars, and also of paying treble the amount of the property purchased from such slave, should it appear that it had been stolen.
ART. 15-Any person who shall be convicted of stealing any money, horse, or other property shall pay treble the amount of the property stolen, and be condemned to hard labor on public works until the superior government decides on the case.
ART. 16. -Any person who shall willfully or maliciously assault another, or who shall maim, beat, abuse, or ill-treat him or her, shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in any sum not exceeding one hundred dollars and be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three months, and shall, moreover, give security for his good behavior, and also be liable in a suit for damages to the person injured.
ART. 17-Any person who shall falsely and maliciously slander another shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in a sum not less than ten nor more than one hundred dollars, and shall, moreover, be liable in a civil suit to the party injured.
ART. 18.-Any person who shall introduce into this colony any counterfeit paper or metal money, whether of this nation or any foreign nation, or who shall pass or attempt to pass any such money, knowing or believing it to be counterfeit, shall, on conviction thereof, pay a fine of double the amount of the money introduced or passed, or attempted to be passed, and shall, moreover, be condemned to hard labor on public works until the superior government decides on the case.
ART. 19.-Should it come to the knowledge of any alcalde that any person has been guilty of any crime, gross immorality, breach of the peace, or other violation of the laws or of this decree, he shall forthwith cause such person to appear before him, and make a complete record of the testimony and proceedings in the case, compelling the attendance of witnesses on both sides, or issuing a commission to take dispositions, where the witnesses live without the district, and taking the declaration of the accused in writing, which record, together with the opinion of the alcalde and the verdict of a jury of six disinterested and honest men, who shall be summoned and sworn by said alcalde to decide on the facts of the case, shall be sent up to the superior judge as soon as possible for final judgment. The prisoner shall have the right of sending to said superior judge his defence in writing, or should he be unable to write or have no friend to do it for him, the alcalde shall cause what he may dictate to be written. Should it appear that the crime is capital, or of a nature to deserve corporal punishment, such alcalde shall detain the accused as a prisoner and cause him to be guarded, and if necessary put him in irons or in stocks until judgment is finally pronounced, for which purpose, and until a jail is provided, the alcalde is hereby authorized to summon men as a guard, who shall serve and be responsible for the prisoner, under the penalty of a fine imposed by the seventh article of the instructions, given by order of the governor of this province to the alcaldes on the 26th day of November, 1822. And should the offence not merit corporal punishment, the said alcalde may at his discretion release the prisoner on bail, subject to appear and abide by the final judgment in the case.
ART. 20.-Should it come to the knowledge of any alcalde that a person of bad character, a vagabond, or a fugitive from justice is within the limits of his district, either as a traveller or resident inhabitant, it shall be the duty of such alcalde to cause such person to appear forthwith before him to answer to such accusation, and to such interrogatories as the alcalde may deem proper to put; and after recording the evidence on both sides, and the interrogatories and answers, the said record, together with the opinion of the alcalde and the defence of the person, shall be sent up to the superior judge for final judgment, and the alcalde may detain such person as a prisoner until a final decision, should it appear that the public security and common good require it.
ART. 21.-Any person who shall oppose the administration of justice or prevent the execution of any legal process, order, or decree, or shall insult or abuse any alcalde, or other officer, while in the exercise of his official duties, shall, on conviction thereof before the alcalde, be fined by him in any sum not exceeding fifty dollars, and be imprisoned not exceeding one month; and should the case be a flagrant one, he shall, moreover, be liable to a criminal prosecution, and, on conviction, be condemned to hard labor on public works until the superior government decides on the case.
ART. 22.-In all cases where a person fined is unable to pay said fine, or to give security therefor, he shall be condemned to labor on public works until his wages at the usual rates allowed in the country will amount to said fine.
ART. 23-In all criminal cases, the party convicted shall pay all the costs, for which purpose his property may be seized and sold under an execution from the alcalde of the district.
ART. 24--All writs, warrants, and executions in criminal cases shall be issued in the name of the Mexican nation.
ART. 25.-Should any piratical or other vessels of a doubtful or suspicious character appear on the coast, or enter any river or inlet within this colony, it should be the duty of the person or persons who discovers them to give immediate information to the nearest alcalde, or to the political chief of the colony.
ART. 26.-All fines shall be applied by the alcalde, under the direction and superintendence of the superior judge, to the use of schools and other public purposes; and that this decree may arrive at the notice of all, I have caused it to be published and posted up in the most public places, hereby ordering and commanding all civil and militia officers and inhabitants of this colony to enforce and obey it under the pains and penalties prescribed by the laws in such cases.
Given at the town of San Felipe de Austin, in the province of Texas, this 22d day of January, 1824, fourth year of the independence and third of the liberty of the Mexican nation. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN.
(Approved by the political chief of Texas in the same manner as in the civil regulations, and at the same time.)
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved