The Cleveland Daily Herald

Cleveland, April 25, 1859

Why Witnesses are Protected by the Court.

      A great many people have a very erroneous idea of the reason why witnesses – for instance, Jennings and Mitchell – are held in custody by the court, and we are disposed to think some officers themselves, do not exactly understand the nature of the transaction. Witnesses are prevented by Courts in certain cases from being taken out of their keeping not as a protection to the witnesses personally, as against arrest for any crime committed by them, but merely for the benefit of the Court itself that wishes to use them as such witnesses. As soon as an officer of Court attempts to shield such witnesses to any further extent than to secure their attendance in the cases on which they are subpoenaed, or for a rescue. The action of Marshall Johnson, the other day, in taking Jennings and Mitchell from the custody of Deputy Sheriff Whitney, he – Whitney – holding them subject to the claim of the United States Court upon them as witnesses, was pronounced by good lawyers a rescue in case they should not be delivered up when those trials close. The truth is, in the case of those men, the forms of law are made to subserve the purposes of preventing our State Courts from reaching them, and these Kentucky chaps are taken into custody to protect their own hides, not to protect the interests of the Court.

      If they get back to Kentucky without capture, they will be safe, for that State would obey no requisition to deliver up men charged with kidnapping a chattel. To kidnap a negro is the same in Kentucky as to kidnap a hog. – it canŐt be done.