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Letter from Ronald Sokol to Daniel Meador, Sunday, January 10, 1999

Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard

Daniel J. Meador, Esq.
Executive Director
Commission on Structural Alternatives
Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Bldg.
One Columbus Circle, N.E.
Washington D.C. 20544

Sunday, January 10, 1999
Monday, January 11, 1999

Dear Dan,

I have yours of October 19th as well as your Christmas letter. I thank you for both and add
my best wishes for a healthy and happy 1999 for you and your family and success for
your latest novel which I eagerly await reading. Incidentally, you will be amused to hear
that I discovered your neologism of “unforgotten” [italics] being used by another great writer.
While rereading Rudyard Kipling’s memoir entitled “Something of Myself’ published in
1937 (a year after his death), he writes in Chapter 1 “A Very Young Person 1865-78”:

“In the afternoon heats before we took our sleep, she or Meeta would tell us
stories and Indian nursery songs all unforgotten, and we were sent into the
dining-room after we had been dressed, with the caution ‘Speak English now
to Papa and Mamma.’”

I appreciate your giving my name to Professor Armando del Grecco whom I would have
been delighted to meet. I don’t know whether he tried to contact me or not, but I was in
fact in Washington D.C. at the end of October for an immigration conference. While
there I had dinner with my former student assistant, Herb Rosenthal, with whom I have
kept in contact. In the course of a conversation he mentioned that one of his classmates,
Paul Michel, who had been one of my favorite students, was now on the Federal Court of
Appeal. I had last heard from Paul when he wrote me in the mid-sixties while he was in
boot camp in Alabama complaining that they were trying to teach him how to kill, but
that he was too old to learn. So I phoned Paul at his chambers, and we were able to have a
breakfast together and partially catch up on the 30 year lapse in our friendship.

Meador, Daniel J., Washington D.C. 11/01/99
Page 1 of 3

He mentioned you, but I did not realize that you were based in D.C. or I would have tried
to reach you.

I have read about a third of the draft report you were kind enough to send and hope to be
able to finish it this weekend. It reads well, and the recommendations make sense to me,
though I am now pretty far out of touch with its subject matter.

I would be curious to know what, if anything, has happened to the International Human
Rights Law Group. Are you still involved with it? Did they ever issue a final report on
the Cambodian project? If so, I would very much like to see it. Do they have any other
projects for which my peculiar background might be of use?

What has happened to the Golden Mean Project? Is Mary Lee still involved? I think I
only heard from her once in 1998 and that was just a message left on my answering
machine simply saying she wanted to stay in touch. Did she and Neville produce the
video that we all agreed in the Fall of 1997 should be done at once?

My article on freedom of expression in France that deals with the Mitterrand case is due
out in the Spring in the Tulane Journal of International & Comparative Law. I shall send
you a copy when it appears. Returning from the States in mid-November I wrote a short
memo in French on some of the risks involved in U.S. immigration law for a few of my
clients. I then decided it might have a wider interest but did not know where to send it.
Just to satisfy a sense of duty I sent it off to the Gazette du Palais [ital.] which occupies the role
that U.S. Law Week used to occupy in the United States 30 years ago except that the
Gazette [ital.] also includes articles of interest to the profession. Much to my astonishment it
was immediately accepted. I am thus going to have published my first article written in

Our second son Daniel was finally admitted to Oxford (St. Edmund Hall) and finished his
first year with distinction. This entitles him to attend dinners wearing a special scholar’s
gown so as to identify him to the cognoscenti. Our third son George has just been offered
a place at Queen’s College, Oxford but remains undecided whether to take it. He is
anticipating an offer from King’s College, University of London which has a highly
regarded music program and a joint project with the Royal Academy of Music. As he is a
pianist who holds out some hope of having a concert career, he is vacillating, and is going
to take another look at both places, but it will not be easy to turn down a place at Oxford.

Meador, Daniel J., Washington D.C. 11/01/99
Page 2 of 3

I am working on changing the mix a little in my practice so as to increase the dosage of
U.S. immigration and nationality law and decrease the dosage of French litigation in the
hope that this will rekindle some of my enthusiasm which has ebbed and flowed
throughout the past two years, although I think was greater in 1998 than it was in 1997. I
periodically wonder whether I should end my career by going back into law school
teaching. If an interesting dean of a small law school were looking for someone to teach
international or comparative law or legal philosophy, he might, if he caught me at just the
right moment, be able to tempt me to move from where I am.

I have been reading an interesting book published in the 1950’s by a man named
Diamond who seems to have been a scholarly barrister. It is entitled “The Evolution of
Law and Order” and traces the beginnings of law as man moved from stages of hunting
and gathering to pastoral to early agricultural societies to more developed agricultural
societies, etc. and shows what kinds of laws first developed, how they were implemented,
etc. I find the concept an interesting one, and the book is well done. I think I ran across a
reference to it in an excellent book I read last year called The Mirror of Justice [ital.] by
Theodore Zielkowski (Princeton U. Press, 1997) which I highly recommend. I don’t
recall whether I thanked you for the reference to the Paul Fussell book. I found it so good
that I ordered his much earlier book on Samuel Johnson and the Life of Writing [ital.] which
was good but not in the same category as The Great War in Modern Memory [ital.].

Let me know what your plans are after you complete your current task.

Sincerely yours,

RS [signature]

Ronald P. Sokol

Meador, Daniel J., Washington D.C. 11/01/99
Page 3 of 3


The United States, Appellants, v.The Libellants and
Claimants of the Schooner Amistad, Her Tackle, Ap-
parel, and Furniture, Together With Her Cargo, and
the Africans Mentioned and Described in the Several
Libels and Claims, Appellees.

The Spanish schooner Amistad, on the 27th day of June, 1839, cleared out from
Havana, in Cuba, for Puerto Principe, in the same island, having on board, Cap-
tain Ferrer, and Ruiz and Montez, Spanish subjects. Captain Ferrer had on board
Antonio, a slave; Ruiz had forty-nine negroes; Montez had four negroes, which
were claimed by them as slaves, and stated to be their property, in passports or docu-
ments, signed by the Governor General of Cuba. In fact, these African negroes had
been, a very short time before they were put on board the Amistad, brought into
Cuba, by Spanish slave traders, in direct contravention of the treaties between Spain
and Great Britain, and in violation of the laws of Spain. On the voyage of the
Amistad, the negroes rose, killed the captain, and took possession of the vessel. They
spared the lives of Ruiz and Montez, on condition that they would aid in steering
the Amistad for the coast of Africa, or to some place where negro slavery was not
permitted by the laws of the country. Ruiz and Montez deceived the negroes, who
were totally ignorant of navigation, and steered the Amistad for the United States;
and she arrived off Long Island, in the state of New York, on the 26th of August,
and anchored within half a mile of the shore. Some of the negroes went on shore
to procure supplies of water and provisions, and the vessel was then discovered by
the United States brig Washington. Lieutenant Gedney, commanding the Wash-
ington assisted by his officers and crew, took possession of the Amistad, and of the
negroes on shore and in the vessel, brought them into the District of Connecticut,
and there libelled the vessel, the cargo, and the negroes for salvage. Libels for
salvage were also presented in the District Court of the United States, for the Dis-
trict of Connecticut, by persons who had aided, as they alleged, in capturing the
negroes on shore on Long Island, and contributed to the vessel, cargo, and negroes
being taken into possession by the brig Washington. Ruiz and Montez filed claims
to the negroes as their slaves, and prayed that they, and parts of the cargo of the
Amistad, might be delivered to them, or to the representatives of the crown of Spain.
The attorney of the District of Connecticut filed an information stating that the
Minister of Spain had claimed of the government of the United States that the
vessel, cargo, and slaves should be restored, under the provisions of the treaty
between the United States and Spain, the same having arrived within the limits and
jurisdiction of the United States, and had been taken possession of by a public armed
vessel of the United States, under such circumstances as made it the duty of the
United States to cause them to be restored to the true owners thereof. The in-
formation asked that the Court would make such order as would enable the United
States to comply with the treaty; or, if it should appear that the negroes had been

JANUARY TERM, 1841. 519

[The United States v. The Amistad.]

brought from Africa, in violation of the laws of the United States, that the Court
would make an order for the removal of the negroes to Africa, according to the laws
of the United States. A claim for Antonio was filed by the Spanish consul, on
behalf of the representatives of Captain Ferrer, and claims are also filed by mer-
chants of Cuba for parts of the cargo of the vessel, denying salvage, and asserting
their right to have the same delivered to them under the treaty. The negroes, An-
tonio excepted, filed an answer denying that they were slaves, or the property of
Ruiz, or Montez; and denying the right of the Court under the Constitution and
laws of the United States to exercise any jurisdiction over their persons. They as-
serted that they were native free-born Africans, and ought of right to be free; that
they had been, in April 1839, kidnapped in Africa, and had been carried in a vessel
engaged in the slave trade from the coast of Africa to Cuba, for the purpose of being
sold; and that Ruiz and Montez, knowing these facts, had purchased them, put them
on board the Amistad, intending to carry them to be held as slaves for life, to another
part of Cuba, and that, on the voyage, they rose on the master, took possession of the
vessel, and were intending to proceed to Africa, or to some free state, when they
were taken possession of by the United States armed vessel, the Washington. After
evidence had been given by the parties, and all the documents of the vessel and cargo,
with the alleged passports, and the clearance from Havana had been produced, the
District Court made a decree, by which all claims to salvage of the negroes were
rejected, and salvage amounting to one-third of the vessel and cargo, was allowed to
Lieutenant Gedney, and the officers and crew of the Washington. The claim of
the representatives of Captain Ferrer, to Antonio, was allowed: the claims of Ruiz
and Montez being included in the claim of the Spanish minister, and of the minister
of Spain, to the negroes as slaves, or to have them delivered to the Spanish minister,
under the treaty, to be sent to Cuba, were rejected: and the Court decreed that the
negroes should be delivered to the President of the United States, to be sent to Africa,
pursuant to the act of Congress of 3d March, 1819. From this decree the District
Attorney of the United States appealed to the Circuit Court, except so far as the
same related to Antonio. The owners of the cargo of the Amistad also appealed
from that part of the decree which allowed salvage on their goods. Ruiz or Montez
did not appeal, nor did the representatives of the owner of the Amistad. The Circuit
Court of Connecticut, by a pro forma decree, affirmed the decree of the District Court,
reserving the question of salvage on the merchandise on board the Amistad. The
United States appealed from this decree. The decree of the Circuit C ourt was
affirmed; saving that part of the same, which directed the negroes to be delivered to
the President of the United States, to be sent to Africa; which was reversed, and
the negroes were declared to be free.
The sixth article of the treaty with Spain, of 1795, continued in full force, in this par-
ticular, by the treaty ratified in 1821, seems to have had principally in view, cases
where the property of the subjects of either state, had been taken possession of within
the territorial jurisdiction of the other, during war. The eighth article provides for
cases where the shipping of the inhabitants of either state are forced, through stress
of weather, pursuit of pirates, or enemies, or any other urgent necessity, to seek
shelter in the ports of the other. There may well be some doubts entertained
whether the case of the Amistad, in its actual circumstances, falls within the pur-
view of this article.
The ninth article of the treaty provides, that all ships and merchandise, which shall

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