The New gaming law.
--Yesterday morning the Mayor
, before commencing his docket, asked the attention of the reporters to a few remarks which he designed submitting relative to the new gaming law, and his enforcement of it. He said it had been stated that he had pronounced the new law unconstitutional.
This he declared to be an error, for its provisions were precisely similar to an old act which the General Court of Virginia
, in the case of Wyatt
, had pronounced constitutional.
In the case of Worsham
, which came before him last week under the new gaming law, the Commonwealth
had failed to show that faro bank, or any like game, had been exhibited by him, or in his house, since its passage.
He had issued a warrant for the entry and search of that house, and besides arresting the parties at play there, and taking possession of the negroes, he had an inventory taken of all the property in the house, and had held it until the party charged was examined before him, and he had been satisfied that the Commonwealth
could not prove the exhibition of faro bank, or a like game, from the 16th inst., (the time at which the law was passed by the Legislature,) to that moment.
Without evidence to prove a violation of the law, he could do no less than release the property, which would have been subject to confiscation under the new law.
After releasing the property, the Mayor
for further examination, taking the ground that the new law did not entirely repeal the old one, and that the Commonwealth
, if she could prove that he had exhibited, or been interested in, faro bank at any time within the past twelve months, could yet punish him under the old law. If faro bank had been exhibited anterior to the passage of the present gaming law, that law could not be retroactive in its provisions, and confiscate property, or inflict punishment, for crimes committed before its passage; for that would be an expost facto
law in its effect, and per consequence would be unconstitutional.
He did not say, and did not design to be misunderstood as saying, that the "gaming law passed by the Legislature of Virginia on the 16th October, 1863," was unconstitutional
in all or any of its provisions.
The old General Court of Virginia
had decided that the Legislature had the right to order white men to be punished by stripes for gaming, and he entertained too exalted an opinion of their wisdom to question for one moment their decision.
As a magistrate, he had given his individual opinion of the law and the facts, and he hoped ever to have the independence to express his opinion on all matters that may come before him, regardless of what may be said by newspapers or individuals.
He wanted what he said to be fairly represented, and asked for nothing more.