No. 371.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. McLane.

No. 308.]

Sir: Your dispatch, No. 549, of the 14th ultimo, relative to the application of Messrs. Black and King, of New York City, to have certain letters rogatory executed by the civil tribunal of the first instance at Paris, and to the request of the French foreign office for information touching the execution of like documents in the United States, has been received.

I will thank you to inform the French Government that letters rogatory from courts of foreign countries are executed in our courts under the provisions of the statutes of the United States, as explained in the Department circular of March 25, 1887, copies of which are herewith inclosed for communication to the foreign office.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard
[Page 521]
[Inclosure in No. 308.]

To the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States:

Letters rogatory for the purpose of taking the testimony of persons residing in the United States, which may be material in suits pending in the courts of foreign countries, are frequently sent to this Department, usually with a note from the minister for foreign affairs of the foreign country or from its diplomatic representative here, requesting that the business may be attended to. It is not, however, the province of the Department of State to dispose of matters of this kind. Frequently witnesses whose testimony is sought reside in places far from this city, rendering it impracticable to have the testimony taken within the time at which it is required in order to make it available.

It is, therefore, deemed advisable to issue this circular, to which are appended the provisions of the Revised Statutes of the United States regulating the taking of testimony in such cases. Other information upon the subject, which will be found useful to persons interested, is contained in the following


Both circuit and district courts of the United States are held in each of the States at the following points:

In Alabama, at Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile; in Arkansas, at Little Rock; in California, at San Francisco and Los Angeles; in Colorado, at Denver, Pueblo, and Del Norte; in Connecticut, at New Haven and Hartford; in Delaware, at Wilmington; in Florida, at Tallahassee, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Key West, and Tampa; in Georgia, at Atlanta, Savannah, and Macon; in Illinois, at Chicago, Springfield, and Cairo; in Indiana, at New Albany, Evansville, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne; in Iowa, at Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Sioux City, Keokuk, Council Bluffs, and Des Moines; in Kansas, at Fort Scott, Leavenworth, and Topeka; in Kentucky, at Frankfort, Covington, Louisville, and Paducah; in Louisiana, at New Orleans, Opelousas, Alexandria, Shreveport, and Monroe; in Maine, at Portland; in Maryland, at Baltimore; in Massachusetts, at Boston; in Michigan, at Port Huron, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Marquette; in Minnesota, at Saint Paul; in Mississippi, at Aberdeen, Oxford, and Jackson; in Missouri, at Saint Louis, Jefferson City, and Kansas City; in Nebraska, at Lincoln and Omaha; in Nevada, at Carson City; in New Hampshire, at Portsmouth and Concord; in New Jersey, at Trenton; in New York, at Canandaigua, Albany, Syracuse, Utica, New York, and Brooklyn; in Forth Carolina, at Raleigh, Greensborough, Statesville, Asheville, and Charlotte; in Ohio, at Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Columbus; in Oregon, at Portland; in Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Williamsport, and Scranton; in Rhode Island, at Newport and Providence; in South Carolina, at Charleston and Columbia; in Tennessee, at Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, Jackson, and Memphis; in Texas, at Graham, Dallas, Waco, Galveston, Tyler, Jefferson, Austin, San Antonio, Brownsville, and El Paso; in Vermont, at Burlington, Windsor, and Rutland; in Virginia, at Richmond, Alexandria, Norfolk, Lynchburgh, Abingdon, Harrisonburgh, and Danville; in West Virginia, circuit court at Parkersburgh, district court at Wheeling, Clarksburgh, and Charleston; in Wisconsin, at Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Madison, Eau Claire, and La Crosse.

In some of the States, district courts are held at other points in addition to those above specified.

The clerks of the courts of the United States are authorized to take depositions, and may be designated as commissioners for that purpose in letters rogatory, which, when returned, are to be used in the courts of foreign countries.

The letters rogatory maybe addressed to the judge of either the circuit court of the United States for the State of ———, or the district court of the United states for the district of ——— (naming the State), praying the judge of that court to name and appoint the commissioner; or such letters may be addressed to the commissioner directly.

The letter or package should in all cases be directed to the clerk of the district or circuit court to which the letters rogatory are addressed. The clerk’s office is at the place where the court holds its sessions.

I am, your obedient servant,

T. F. Bayard.
[Page 522]

sections of the revised statutes relating to letters rogatory.

  • Sec. 4071. The testimony of any witness residing within the United States, to be used in any suit for the recovery of money or property depending in any court in any foreign country with which the United States are at peace, and in which the government of such foreign country shall be a party or shall have an interest, may be obtained, to be used in such suit. If a commission or letters rogatory to take such testimony, together with specific written interrogatories, accompanying the same, and addressed to such witness, shall have been issued from the court in which such suit is pending, on producing the same before the district judge of any district where the witness resides or shall be found, and on due proof being made to such judge that the testimony of any witness is material to the party desiring the same, such judge shall issue a summons to such witness requiring him to appear before the officer or commissioner named in such commission or letters rogatory, to testify in such suit. And no witness shall be compelled to appear or to testify under this section except for the purpose of answering such interrogatories so issued and accompanying such commission or letters: Provided, That when counsel for all the parties attend the examination, they may consent that questions in addition to those accompanying the commission or letters rogatory may be put to the witness, unless the commission or letters rogatory exclude such additional interrogatories. The summons shall specify the time and place at which the witness is required to attend, which place shall be within one hundred miles of the place where the witness resides or shall be served with such summons.
  • Sec. 4072. No witness shall be required on such examination or any other, under letters rogatory, to make any disclosure or discovery which shall tend to criminate him either under the laws of the State or Territory within which such examination is had, or any other, or any foreign state.
  • Sec. 4073. If any person shall refuse or neglect to appear at the time and place mentioned in the summons issued, in accordance with section forty hundred and seventy-one, or if upon his appearance he shall refuse to testify, he shall be liable to the same penalties as would be incurred for a like offense on the trial of a suit in the district court of the United States.
  • Sec. 4074. Every witness who shall so appear and testify shall be allowed, and shall receive from the party at whose instance he shall have been summoned, the same fees and mileage as are allowed to witnesses in suits depending in the district courts of the United States.
  • Sec. 875. When any commission or letter rogatory, issued to take the testimony of any witness in a foreign country, in any suit in which the United States are parties or have an interest, is executed by the court or the commissioner to whom it is directed, it shall be returned by such court or commissioner to the minister or consul of the United States nearest the place where it is executed. On receiving the same, the said minister or consul shall indorse thereon a certificate, stating when and where the same was received, and that the said deposition is in the same condition as when he received it; and he shall thereupon transmit the said letter or commission, so executed and certified, by mail, to the clerk of the court from which the same issued, in the manner in which his official dispatches are transmitted to the Government. And the testimony of witnesses so taken and returned shall be read as evidence on the trial of the suit in which it was taken, without objection as to the method of returning the same. [When letters rogatory are addressed from any court of a foreign country to any circuit court of the United States, a commissioner of such circuit court designated by said court to make the examination of the witnesses mentioned in said letters, shall have power to compel the witnesses to appear and depose in the same manner as witnesses may be compelled to appear and testify in courts.]