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Commomwealth v. Nutt

Commomwealth v. Nutt - LA Commonwealth v Nutt 113g...

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Unformatted text preview: LA Commonwealth v. Nutt 113g 143 (Philadelphia Co. Ct, C. P. 1810) This case arose upon a habeas corpus taken out by Levi Nutt, the father and directed to Rhoda Nutt, the mother, commanding her to bring Acha B. Nutt his daughter before the Court, together with the cause of her detainer. Rhoda Nutt returned that she had the said Acha before the court, as she was commanded, that she was the mother of said Acha, that Levi Nutt, the father was an immoral man and neglected to maintain his family. -— The Case was argued by Browne for the Father, and S. Levy for the mother. -— As the facts and the arguments of the counsel are fully stated in the opinion of the court, it is unnecessary to detail them here. Per Curiam —- Rush President. This Habeas corpus has been applied for by the father who claims the custody of Acha B. Nutt as his child. The general opinion is correct, that the father has a right to the custody of his children. The case in 5 East Rep 221 is full to the point, and the doctrine had long before settled, as may be seen in 1 Black Corn 453 and 3 Pierre Wms 154. To this general exceptions have however, been very property admitted: The case of Sir Francis Delaval is one. From the report of this case, it appears that Sir Francis, with the assistance of Bates and Frain, an attorney, had got in his possession, and debauched a young woman of the name of Ann Catley of the age of seventeen, who had been indented to Bates to learn music. The Court was satisfied upon the affidavits, that her father had been wholly negligent of her while she lived with Bates; that he had never given her advice or reprimand, and that he seldom or never saw her. They also suspected that he was concerned in the prosecution to extort money from Sir Francis, who was a man of rank and fortune. They therefore refused to deliver her to her father. And with respect to the mother, there being reason to suspect she was privy to the seduction of her daughter, they refused also to deliver her to her mother. The result was the Court told the girl she was at liberty to go where she pleased. The case of the King against Penelope Smith is to the same purpose; the girl was nearly fourteen years old, and the Court refused to deliver her to her father, because they thought his Views in applying for the custody of her were improper. In the case now before, the Court have been furnished with the most disgusting evidence of the immoral character and conduct of both parents. They have quarrelled, broken up house-keeping, and separated. The children have also been separated and dispersed into different places. The mother at this time keeps house for Amos Howell, a tavern—keeper, and married man, who has also parted from LN . his wife. There is too much reason to believe they live in a constant habit of adultery, and that acts of the grossest indecency have been exhibited in the presence and View of the daughter. Fiddling, dancing, and gambling are frequent at the house. This certainly is not a setting in which . . . innocence can be trusted with safety. With respect to the father his general neglect to provide for his children is but too apparent, and he is at this time destitute of a settled habitation; his profligate language in the presence of his wife and daughter is too indelicate to be repeated. As the Court cannot deliver Acha B. Nutt either to her father or mother, they are precisely in the situation of the court in the case of Ann Catley. But here the analogy between the two cases must stop. It is not our intention to turn Acha B. Nutt adrift upon the wide world to her and tell her, as the Court told Ann Catley, “you are at liberty to go where you please;” but, we mean to put her under the custody of a relation, where we think she will be best taken care of, and her mind an morals in the least danger of being corrupted. In the case of Ann Catley Lord Mansfield stated the law to be, that the Court is bound to set infants free from any improper restraint but they are not bound to deliver them over to any body, or to give them any privilege. These must be left to their discretion, according to the circumstances that shall appear before them. The Court have received satisfactory information, that Ann Nutt, sister of Acha B. Nutt, is a person to whose custody Acha may be safely be confined. They therefore direct, that Acha shall remain in the custody of her sister Ann, who has consented to take her: and they do further direct that the said Ann shall permit the father and mother of Acha, to see her at all reasonable times, and that she shall also permit them to offer such aid towards her support and education as they may be able and willing to contributed. We desire the father and mother to take notice, that it will be at their peril if they or either of them, shall take away or withdraw Acha B. Nutt from the custody of her sister Ann, where she is now placed by the order an authority of the Court, and that every infraction of this sentence will be punished according to law. $9 ...
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