Mr. Brigham to Mr. Porter.
Paso del Norte, Mexico , July 1, 1886. (Received July 19.)
Sir: I have the honor to communicate the following facts in regard to the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. A. K. Cutting, an American citizen, by one of the courts in this city.
Mr. Cutting is a resident of Paso del Norte, and engaged as an editor of a newspaper called “El Centinela,” in a recent edition of which he published some strictures upon one Emigdio Medina, who proposed engaging in the newspaper business also.
For this offense Mr. Cutting was arrested and brought before the court to answer. Under the law here, when the parties agree to and sign a “reconciliation” the case was dismissed, which was done in this instance, Mr. Cutting being required by the court to publish it in his paper, which he did.
On the 18th day of June Mr. Cutting proceeded across the Bio Grande River to the United States, to El Paso, Tex., and published a card in the El Paso Herald, in which he reiterated his former charges, and makes some others, branding Medina’s conduct as “contemptible and cowardly,” &c., copy of which card I inclose, marked No. 1.[Page 692]
When Mr. Cutting returned to Paso del Norte he was again arrested, presumably at the instance of Medina, and taken before the judge of the second court. Before this court Mr. Gutting was refused counsel and an interpreter, both of which he requested, and with closed doors, no one being present but the judge, the court interpreter, and the accused, the so-called examination of the case was proceeded with, which resulted in the committing of Mr. Cutting to jail.
At this stage of the proceedings, and before he was taken to jail, Mr. Cutting notified the court that he claimed the protection of his Government, and would refer the matter to the American consul, which he did by the following communication to me, dated June 23, 1886, marked No. 2.
On the receipt of this communication I proceeded to the office of the principal interpreter of the court to ascertain the exact charges against Mr. Cutting, and was informed that he was arrested for the publication in the El Paso (Texas) Herald; that he was examined upon this charge alone, and committed to jail on the same. I suggested that the court acted without jurisdiction, and had dome a wrong to Mr. Cutting, to which the interpreter replied that if the judge had made a mistake in the case it was in the power of the prosecuting attorney to dismiss prosecution when the case came up, which he thought he would do the next morning.
I then wrote a note to Mr. Daguerre, the partner of Mr. Cutting in the newspaper, and engaged his services to see the prosecuting attorney and have the case dismissed. The result was that the attorney left the impression that the ease would be dismissed the next day, which was the 21th day of June. On the morning of that day (being confined to bed by sickness) I sent my clerk to the court room to ascertain what was done in the case, and, in company with Mr. Daguerre, they called at the court room, where they found the judge, the prosecuting attorney, and the official interpreter. The prosecuting attorney notified them that he could do nothing on that day, as it was a legal holiday, and they returned and so reported to me.
Believing that the authorities would take no action in the case, and release Mr. Cutting, on the morning of the 25th of June I dictated from my sick bed a formal communication to the judge, demanding his release upon the ground that the court was wholly without jurisdiction of the matter, and instructed my clerk not to deliver the letter if Mr. Cutting was released. He found the court in session; the prosecuting attorney put in an appearance for a while and left the court, taking no action whatever in the case. My clerk then handed the judge my communication, copy of which I herewith inclose, marked No. 3.
To this communication his honor never even deigned a reply, and Mr. Cutting still languishes in jail, having been thus confined for more than one week. Bail was refused him, which he was prepared to give in any reasonable amount.
Thus it will be seen that I have used every means in my power for the release of this prisoner, without avail. That he is confined without the warrant or shadow of law, I take it there will be no question. If this fact be conceded, it seems meet and proper for the Department to take the matter in hand and demand an immediate release of the prisoner, and a full indemnity for the outrage.
I would here suggest that the parties culpable in this matter are the judge who issued the order for the arrest and illegal detention of the accused, one Regino Castañeda, and the prosecuting attorney, one José Maria Sierra, who had it in his power to have dismissed the case, and [Page 693] who still has that power, but refuses to exercise it. Both of said officers should be deposed as unworthy the places they fill.
I will further state that I have demeaned myself throughout with every proper courtesy and respect to the authorities in this matter, and urged Mr. Cutting to do likewise, and to obey all the orders and decrees emanating from the court, which he has done. That the court has so treated me, personally or officially, does not so clearly appear, and the failure to reply or take any notice of my official communication is a matter of which the Department is fully capable of judging, and will be prepared intelligently to act.
From the very inception of the case I am satisfied there has been no desire or intention to do Mr. Cutting justice, and it has been boasted that they can keep him in jail for six months or a year if they see proper to do so.
The claim that the 24th day of June was a legal holiday was a mere subterfuge, and was, in point of fact, untrue, the mayor’s court being in session, and the post office and custom-house kept open the usual hours during the day. * * *
I herewith inclose the affidavit of A. K. Cutting, marked No. 4; affidavit of Mr. Daguerre, marked No. 5; affidavit of Mr. Henry G. Turner, marked No. 6, substantiating the facts set forth in this dispatch. Also extracts from the El Paso Daily Times and Daily Tribune, as an index of public sentiment on this subject,
I have written thus plainly and pointedly, because I am fully persuaded that the necessities of the case demand it.
I am, &c.,