By John Paul Jones
Dr. Samuel Mudd's guilt or innocence within the Lincoln assassination is debated by way of a distinct workforce of jurists and Civil battle historians lately convened by means of the college of Richmond institution of legislation to reexamine the case.
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Extra resources for Doctor Mudd and the Lincoln assassination, Edition: First edition.
Mudd knowingly or willingly concealed the escaping assassin and his henchman. Its exclusion, on the sole ground that it exceeded the scope of the government's case, is contrary to prevailing standards of military law and manifestly prejudicial to Dr. Mudd. The commission also denied Dr. Mudd due process by improperly refusing severance of his trial from that of his co-defendants. The compound charge against Dr. Mudd accused him and his co-defendants of conspiring to murder the President and other government officials.
The commission refused to say what precedents would be considered controlling under the common law of war leaving Dr. Mudd severely handicapped in the preparation of his defense. When invited to specify whether this "common law of war" referred to English common law, military common law, or the law of nations, the commission remained silent. Accordingly, Dr. Mudd was forced to construct his defense based on tentative assumptions regarding what law would both inform and bind the commission's rulings, hardly the opportunity envisioned by those who framed the Fifth Amendment.
Nor can it be said that the law of nations permits what the Constitution does not. Even if it were assumed for the moment that the law of nations implicitly limits the United States Constitution respecting both the judicial power and the Bill of Rights, international law would not warrant jurisdiction over Page 8 Dr. Mudd in this case. That aspect of the law of nations known as jus belli, the law of war, operates only between belligerents. The law of war applies only in a state of war. War arises from acts of sovereignty, creating rights of belligerency, making enemies of opposing factions.