The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

certain Spanish grants. Conflicting claims between the San Martin
and Espiritu Santo grants, large tracts of land in Cameron County,
were settled in Cavazos vs. Trevino, opinion by Judge Walker.35
Lloyd vs. Brinck, opinion by Judge Ogden,"6 is a leading case
upon the use of mandamus to order a trial judge to render judg-
ment upon a jury verdict.
Although the Supreme Court has never, to the writer's knowl-
edge, cited the Rodriguez case with approval, it has, neverthe-
less, been cited as authoritative by the Court of Criminal Appeals
upon the point that "when the construction of an act admits of
doubt, it should be construed in favor of its validity."'' The case
has also been cited as sustaining the proposition that "A party's
right to habeas corpus does not depend upon the legality or
illegality of his original caption, but upon the legality or illegality
of his present detention."" It is difficult to quarrel with these
statements of law.9
The personnel of the Semicolon Court is perhaps the most
interesting of the Reconstruction courts. The first chief justice,
Lemuel D. Evans, a Tennessean who came to Texas in 1843, is
reported to have said that, "Any sentence in the language,
whether it be found in a law book or in the Bible, is to be con-
s51bid., XXXV, 133.
3elbid., i.
37Camp vs. State, Texas Criminal Reports, LXI, 231; Southwestern Reporter,
CXXXV, 146.
38Ex Parte Lowe, Texas Criminal Reports, LXI, 231; Southwestern Reporter,
CCLI, 506.
a39n Parker vs. The State, Texas Criminal Reports, V, 579, Judge White writing
for the Court of Appeals, the predecessor of the Court of Criminal Appeals, made
this rather cautious statement: "Without wishing to be understood as indorsing or
concurring in the opinion of the court in Ex parte Rodriguez, 39 Tex. 705, we cite
that case as one in which the authorities upon the latter proposition may be found
collated."
The late Railroad Smith, who practiced law in Jourdanton, Atascosa County,
Texas, is reported to have made a rather unique use of decisions by the Semicolon
Court in a motion for rehearing before the Supreme Court. His motion is reputed
to have read about as follows:
"This Honorable Court in its opinion filed herein has held such and such.
"The following opinions should be read by the Court [here followed a list of
about ten cases from Volumes XXXIII to XXXIX of the Texas Reports].
"Other decisions might be cited, but I have purposely restricted my citations to
the Semicolon Court, not to reflect glory upon that Court, but simply to demon-
strate that even the Carpetbaggers knew better than that."

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed August 30, 2014.