Day by Day

Friday, February 27, 2009

Courts support private property

Court: Va. man owns 1776 copy of Declaration

A rare 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence belongs to a Virginia technology entrepreneur, not the state of Maine, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Friday. Richard Adams Jr. of Fairfax County purchased the document from a London book dealer in 2001 for $475,000. But the state of Maine claimed it belongs to the town of Wiscasset, where it was kept by the town clerk in 1776.

Virginia's high court said that a lower court did not err in its ruling in Adams' favor because Maine didn't prove the document was ever an official town record and that Adams had superior title to the print.

Adams' attorney, Robert K. Richardson, has argued that Wiscasset's town clerk copied the text of the Declaration of Independence into the town's record books on Nov. 10, 1776. It's that transcription, not the document upon which it was based, that is the official town record, Richardson said.

"The fact that the print was not made by an authorized public officer and was not intended to be the official memorial of the Declaration precluded the print from qualifying as a 'public record' under common law," the court said in its ruling.

No comments: