William T. Hangley recently participated in a reenactment of the 1794 case Georgia v. Brailsford, before British and American high court justices, at Old City Hall in Philadelphia, the original seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. The case stemmed from a dispute over an unpaid debt dating from before the American Revolution. The case, an important one for the still-new Supreme Court, involved international treaties, states’ rights, and fair credit.
In 1790, Samuel Brailsford, a British subject, filed suit against a Georgia citizen who had owed him money since 1774. The state of Georgia intervened and claimed that the money was actually owed to Georgia, because of that state’s wartime statute that “sequestered” debts due to merchants of Great Britain. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the question of whether the sequestration actually operated as a “confiscation.” The jury eventually sided with Brailsford.
At yesterday’s event, Hangley represented the state of Georgia before Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Steven Breyer and Samuel Alito, as well as a jury consisting of justices from the Supreme Courts of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The event was organized by the American College of Trial Lawyers as part of a regular exchange program between US and UK jurists.
Hangley was joined in the reenactment by attorneys Paul Sandler, Linda Hoffa and Alfred Putnam, Jr.