THE MORMON PROBLEM REVIVED. The President has removed Mr. George C. Bates, United States District-Attorney for the Territory of Utah, and appointed in his place Mr. William Cary of Galena. We know noth-ing to the discredit of Mr. Cary; but Mr. Bates has become so closely identified with a certain policy in the affair of the Mormon prosecutions that his removal, coupled with the President's well-known anxiety to push the polygamy cases to the utmost, is a fact of considerable public significance. More than a year ago, Judge McKean of the Supreme Court of the Territory instituted the proceedings under the law against " lewd and lascivious "cohabitation" which caused so much excite-ment and dispute. It was understood that his vigorous action was inspired by the Rev. J. P. Newman and fully sustained by President Grant; and Mr. Bates, who regarded Judge McKean's course as illegal, was some time ago requested to resign. He refused, pending the consideration of the question by the Supreme Court of the United States. That Court sus-tained him, and reversed the decision of Judge McKean. Nevertheless Mr. Bates is removed.
As the vigorous policy which this seems to foreshadow will probably attract a great deal of public attention, it may be worth while to review the facts in this curious case. By the organic law of the Territory, the Supreme Court of Utah for the first six days of every term (and as much longer as may be necessary to finish causes on hand) sits as a District and Circuit Court of the United States. It then adjourns, and immediately reassembles as a Territorial Court, with the same judges, but with a Territorial district-attorney in place of the Federal prosecuting officer, a sheriff in place of the United States marshal, a jury impanneled by the sheriff in place of the jury impanneled by the marshal, and a complete change in all the subordinates and the machinery of administration. As a Federal Court it has jurisdiction only over offenders against the laws of the United States. As a Territorial Court it is governed entirely by the laws of the Territory. Now there were two statutes under which the polygamists could be tried. One was the act of Congress of 1862 prohibiting polygamy. That fell under the cognizance of the United States Court. The indictments could be found by a jury of Gentiles impanneled by the United States Mar-shal, and the prosecutions could be con-ducted by the United States District-Attorney. But the trouble was that very few of the leading Mormons had contracted any polyga-mous marriages since the passing of the act; and the older and more prominent sinners were the only ones whom it seemed worth while to attack. There was a Territorial statute against lewd and lascivious cohabita-tion which would cover all the cases; but as this fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Territorial Court, the indictments would have to be found by a sheriff's jury and tried by a Territorial prosecutor. The sheriff's jury would be composed entirely of Mormons, who of course would never find a true bill; and the Territorial attorney, being also a Mormon, would never press matters to a conviction if they did.
Judge McKean met this difficulty by an original if net a brilliant device. He deter-mined to proceed under the Territorial law, but with the machinery of the United States Court. Mr. Hempstead, who was the United States District- Attorney at the time, refused to take part in the proceedings, and, we be-lieve, resigned. Judge McKean then appointed an attorney ad Interim, which he had no right to do; and by this gentleman, a Mr. Basken, the indictments for offenses against a statute of Utah were prepared and brought before a jury of the United States, and the now famous trials were set on foot. When Mr. Bates went into office in December, 1871, he found things in a pretty mess. Judge McKean's de-cisions had made him the prosecuting officer for all felonies whatsoever. There were about thirty causes pending against Brigham Young and other prominent Mormons, for murder, assault, lewd and lascivious cohabitation, &c., not one of which was triable in the United States Courts. A number of prisoners, arrested under these illegal proceed-ings, were in military custody, the United States having no jail. Moreover, an expense of about $ 15,000 had been incurred for the fees of jurors and witnesses, transportation, &c., and nobody would pay it. The United States Controller refused, because according to the uniform decisions of the department these were Territorial Courts. The Treasurer of the Territory of course refused, because the expenses had been incurred by United States officials. The Marshal advanced $ 8,000 out of his private means; but there matters came to a dead-lock. The prisoners could not be tried for want of witnesses. Witnesses and jurors could not be had for want of money to pay fees and traveling expenses. By direction of the Attorney-General the causes were deferred, and Mr. Bates went to Washington and tried to get matters straightened out.
The Supreme Court, as we have already said, declared Judge McKean's action illegal, and so all the Mormon indictments fell to the ground. The request for Mr. Bates's resigna-tion was withdrawn, and that gentleman went back to Utah. It would seem, however, from the fact of his removal, that the rash and ig-norant zeal which he withstood still inspires the policy of the Administration at Salt Lake City; but if the crusade against polygamy is to have any practical result it is apparent that some further legislation is required at Wash-ington. The statute of 1862 will not reach the principal offenders, and the Territorial statute will not reach anybody.
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