Sylvanus Phillips v.
Richmond Peeler (1810)
The facts of this case are interwoven with those of two others: Peeler v. Phillips, involving a slave, Sam, and a later case for false imprisonment, really a continuation of this one. In Peeler v. Phillips, James Kilgore and Sylvanus Phillips disputed the ownership of Sam, and Richmond Peeler acted as an attorney in fact or agent for Kilgore and sued Phillips. In November of 1810 Peeler caused Phillips to be arrested and held in jail for approximately two weeks (arresting the defendant debtor caused him to produce property to serve as security, in case he lost the suit). On his release from jail, Phillips immediately filed this suit in the Court of Common Pleas against Peeler for "trespass by force and arms"-- "trespass vi et armis"- and $500 worth of damages. Perly Wallis was attorney for Phillips. Judge Vaugine ordered Clerk Patrick Cassidy to issue a summons against Richmond Peeler. Sheriff Daniel Mooney authorized James Sheelds to execute the writ, but Sheelds returned the writ "not found."
The court did not meet for any of its next three terms in December, April or August because only one judge was present. The following December 1811 term the case was continued. During this term, while Wallis was serving as Phillips's attorney, Phillips served on a jury that heard the slander suit of Perly Wallis v. John Treat. Wallis won, and was awarded a judgment for $750. (One can only speculate that it might have been easy for Wallis's client, as a juror, to find for him.)
During the April 1812 term, both parties and their attorneys, Perly Wallis for Phillips and Anthony Haden for Peeler, appeared in court. The cause of action was now listed as detention and false imprisonment, but the amount of damages was the same-$500. The defendant moved that the proceedings be quashed because there were two suits for the same case. The court agreed, although Judge Cassidy dissented. Perly Wallis moved for leave to file a bill of exceptions, which the court granted; however when the court saw the finished bill it refused to sign it. John Miller joined Phillip's counsel as assitant attorney. Two trials were held with regard to Peeler v. Phillips, in April and August 1812, and both times Phillips was found to be not guilty. Kilgore appealed this case to the superior court in St. Louis, and at this time we do not know the final outcome.
In November 1812 Phillips tried again with a new attorney, Anthony Haden-see Phillips v. Peeler (1812).
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