811.04551/11: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Herrick)

23. Your despatch No. 5573, October 1, 1925, regarding proposed convention relating to letters rogatory.

Convention intended to cover every category of judicial proceedings for recovery of money or property and would include civil cases of character mentioned in note from Foreign Office. It would not apply to criminal proceedings because of constitutional provision [Page 118] guaranteeing defendants charged with crime the right to be confronted with witnesses against them.

The term “court of record” used in Article 3 embraces generally-speaking every court in the United States and its possessions except those exercising petty jurisdiction such as magistrate’s courts and courts of justices of the peace.

Article 5 is intended to prohibit imposition of taxes or other official charges not based on services rendered or expenses actually incurred in the execution or transmission of letters rogatory. It would authorize any expense necessarily incurred by court executing letter in securing attendance of witnesses and taking their testimony but would not include fees or expenses of attorneys representing any litigant.

Immediate need of such a convention is emphasized by inability to obtain under existing procedure in France testimony of Harry M. Blackmer and James E. O’Neill urgently needed in pending proceedings in Federal court.40 (See Embassy telegram No. 140 of February 26, 192541). You may in your discretion, in urging early conclusion of convention, explain situation to Foreign Office.

Endeavor to ascertain and inform Department present whereabouts of Blackmer and O’Neill.

  1. U. S. v. Mammoth Oil Co. et al, 5 Fed. (2d) 330. The testimony of Harry M. Blackmer and James E. O’Neill was desired by the Special Counsel for the United States Government in the suit to recover the Teapot Dome oil lands leased to the Mammoth Oil Company.
  2. Not printed.