Mr. Clayton to Mr. Hay.

No. 255.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instruction No. 178, of the 19th instant, concerning the case of Mrs. Mattie D. Rich, an American citizen, wife of John D. Rich, an American, lately surrendered to the Mexican authorities, charged with the crime of murder, under the provisions of the treaty between the two Governments for the extradition of criminals, in which I am instructed to bring informally to the attention of the Mexican Government the motives that actuated the President in granting the surrender of Mrs. Rich and his views concerning her trial in Mexico.

Having been informed by Mr. Mariscal prior to the receipt of your aforesaid instruction that under the laws of Chihuahua the crime charged against Mrs. Rich is made punishable by imprisonment only—in other words, females in that State are not subjected to capital punishment for the crime of murder—in view of this fact, in quoting your instructions in my note to Mr. Mariscal, above referred to, I deemed it proper to eliminate that portion relating to the contingency of her condemnation to capital punishment and the execution of such sentence.

In conversation with Mr. Mariscal on the 27th instant he informed me that they had already taken precautions to give Mrs. Rich a room by herself where she would have better accommodations than are usually afforded prisoners and more liberty of action.

I feel confident that her imprisonment and trial will be of such a character as will leave no just cause of complaint on the part of any fair-minded person.

I inclose herewith a clipping1 from the Mexican Herald of yesterday concerning her preliminary examination and the action of the judge in subjecting the chief of police to discipline on account of entering her cell, and referring to the fact that the United States has provided no lawyer for Mrs. Rich, that the American consul has not visited her since she was surrendered, and that she was not represented by an attorney in court.

Under the Mexican law this preliminary examination corresponds somewhat to our grand-jury investigations, and at such stage lawyers for the defense are not allowed, nor have spectators the right, to be present. I presume at the time referred to she was “incommunicado.”

I have, etc.,

Powell Clayton.
  1. Not printed.