Skip to main content

His Excellency,
Governor Bickett,
Raleigh, N. C.

Dear Sir:-

I have your letter of February 1st, transmitting a report from Major-General Francis A. Macon, retired, and other correspondence including a bill from J. S. Poythress of Henderson against the State of North Carolina amounting to $300.00, for use of an automobile in conveying a certain prisoner, Austin Green, from Henderson to Raleigh after his shooting of Miss Roth of Henderson on the streets of that city.

I note that the reasons for the bringing of the prisoner to Raleigh were in order to prevent a lynching and that this step was taken after General Macon had communicated with you and you had informed him, through the Adjutant General, that it was your desire that he assist in protecting the prisoner.

In answer to your inquiry as to my opinion whether this bill should be paid by the State of North Carolina or by the County of Vance, I have to advise you that in my opinion the amount is in no way chargeable against the State. The provisions in the Revisal which would come nearest to covering a case of the character above described are sections 1347 - which is as follows:

"The expense for guarding prisons shall be paid by the county wherein the prison is situated; and for conveying prisoners, as also the expense attending such prisoners while in jail, when the same may be chargeable on the county shall be paid by the county from which the prisoner is removed."

and 2825 - which is as follows:

"When the sheriff of any county has good reason to believe that the jail of his county is in danger of being broken or entered for the purpose of killing or injuring a prisoner placed by the law in his custody, it shall be his duty at once to call on the commissioners of the county, or some one of them, for a sufficient guard for the jail, and in such case, if the commissioner or commissioners fail to authorize the employment of necessary guards to protect the jail, and by reason of such failure the jail is entered and a prisoner killed, the county wherein whose jail the prisoner is confined shall be responsible in damages, to be recovered by the personal representatives of the prisoner thus killed, by action begun and prosecuted before the superior court of any county in this State."

These, however, provide that the expense of caring for and transferring a prisoner is to be borne by the counties and not by the State.

With great respect, I beg to remain

Yours very truly,