Criminal Law
Court Procedure

What was the final verdict in the Amistad case?

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April 22, 2010 1:35AM

It is complicated, as there were at least three trials, one

criminal trial in Connecticut, a civil trial, also in Connecticut,

and a case before the United States Supreme Court.

The first court ruled that they had no jurisdiction because the

"Armistad's" were Spanish subjects. They also ruled that the case

rested on whether the Armistad's were property or free. The Civil

court ruled that they were free men who had been kidnapped

illegally and thus were free. The United States Executive Branch

brought suit to the Supreme Court to overturn this verdict. They

did this because Spain was demanding return of the Armistads and

President Van Buren did not want to anger them. The case of the

Armistads was argued before the court by Lewis Tapan and John

Quincy Adams. The court upheld the opinion that the Armistad's were

free men and should be returned to Africa. The ruling was made in a

narrow way to avoid having the case be used as a precedent against

slavery. 35 of the Armistads were eventually returned to Sierra

Leone. who also took responsibility for the verdict in all the


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