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THE CHARLES MORGAN, 115 U. S. 69 (1885)

U.S. Supreme Court

The Charles Morgan, 115 U.S. 69 (1885)

The Charles Morgan

Argued April 24, 1885

Decided May 4, 1885

115 U.S. 69


In case of collision on the Mississippi, if the facts show that the injured vessel made the first signal, and that it was responded to by the offending vessel, and that no question was made below as to its being made within the time

Page 115 U. S. 70

required by the Rules of the Board of Supervising Inspectors, it will be presumed to have been made at the proper distance, in compliance with the Rules.

The circuit court, in an appeal from a decree of a district court in admiralty, may in its discretion permit amendments to the libel enlarging the claims and including claims rejected below as not specified in the pleadings.

The Lucille, 19 Wall. 73, affirmed and applied.

The North Carolina, 15 Pet. 40, distinguished.

The finding of the board of local inspectors, and the documents connected therewith are not admissible in a collision suit in admiralty for the purpose of showing that the offending vessel was in her proper position in the river and had proper watches and lights set at the tune of the collision.

When depositions of witnesses, made in another suit, are offered for the purpose of impeaching their evidence and are admitted, and exception is taken thereto, and the bill of exceptions shows that "in the cross-examination of each of said witnesses, the attention of the witness was called to the evidence" given by him in the other case and the said witnesses were specifically examined as to the correctness of said evidence, and that,

"at the offering, no objection was made that the evidence offered was not the evidence of said witnesses respectively, or that the same had been imperfectly taken and reported,"

but the cross-examination is not incorporated into the bill of exceptions, it will be presumed that ample foundation was laid for the introduction of the evidence.

Although the general rule is that when contradictory declarations of a witness made at another time in writing are to be used for purposes of impeachment, questions as to the contents of the instrument without its production are ordinarily inadmissible, yet the law only requires that the memory of the witness shall to so refreshed as to enable him to explain if he desires to do so, and it is for the court to determine whether this has been done before the impeaching evidence is admitted.

This was a collision case in admiralty. The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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