Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And he took my hat, too!

Today's case concerns a man, one Matthias Fream or Frame, who's charged with perverting justice for helping his wife escape custody and also with grand larceny for stealing the constable's hat.

Mrs. Fream was charged with shoplifting, along with another woman. They were being taken from location to another in the custody of the constable when "the Prisoner and eight or nine more attacked us, broke the Coach-Doors to pieces, and rescued the Woman."

(I find the use of the word "rescued" interesting, since these are court documents.)

Not only did they free the women from custody, Fream took the constable's hat that had been knocked off his head.

Because the accused didn't have legal counsel until the Prisoner's Counsel Act of 1836, Fream himself cross-examines the constable and asks only one question:

"How can you be sure that I took it when several others were there?"

According to the constable, Fream was "the last Man of the Mob: The rest were gone a little before when he took my Hat up" and he knew Fream because he'd visited his wife while she was in custody.

Fream was found guilty and sentenced to transportation.

His wife, however, was acquitted.

What this case offers, I think, is a good set-up for a reunion romance - the husband attempts to save his unjustly accused wife and he winds up transported for a number of years. Then he comes home and finds...what?

Does she still love him? What's happened to her in the meantime? Does she understand why he did what he did? Does she think he was a fool to interfere? Has he changed so much she won't recognize him, or have anything more to do with him?

What if she's got an interfering, overbearing family who didn't want her to marry him in the first place? What if the other woman charged was a friend who's always had a thing for her husband? They were transported together - what's the wife to think?

Has the husband changed? What does she think of his ill-fated attempt at rescue?

Will they be able to get back together? Will it work? How do the events of the intervening years influence their relationship?

Yep, this could make for a very interesting story.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the rigth of counsel predates that act by one hundred years. Look up "In Forma Pauperis" and its use in a case in 1735. You will find that a judicial decision extended the right to counsel to a poor defendant in a criminal trial. The right of counsel was recognized prior to 1496. However, the 'right' was one that permitted counsel and not one that appointed counsel. The appointment of defense counsel to a criminal defendant, just like our current legal system, was actually established by the 1735 case.


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