File No. 342.112Sm6/25a.
The Secretary of State ad interim to the British Ambassador.
The Secretary of State ad interim deems it proper to call to the attention of his excellency the British Ambassador information which the Department of State has received regarding the action of a Canadian judge in giving a charge, apparently highly improper, to the grand jury which was empaneled to consider the cases against the men who, in December last, shot the American citizens Walter Smith and Charles Dorsch at Fort Erie, Ontario.
As his excellency was informed in a note dated January 8, 1915, the Department of State, after investigation of this occurrence, was of the opinion that the killing of one of these American citizens and the wounding of the other was without justification. The Department of State after having received assurances that suitable steps would be taken to redress these injuries through proper steps being taken to bring to justice the guilty persons and through the payment of indemnities to the wounded man and to the relatives of the deceased, was glad to learn that indemnities were promptly paid by the Canadian authorities. But the Department regrets that it has received authentic information to the effect that the judge, in instructing the jury, informed them to the effect that they should take into consideration the fact that an indemnity of some $16,000 had been paid by the Canadian Government, and that insofar as money could afford compensation in a matter of this kind, just compensation had been made to the victims. From the information before the Department of State it seems reasonably certain that the action of the jury in failing to indict the men who did the shooting was influenced by this obviously improper statement on the part of the Judge.
Washington , June 11, 1915.