Richard Peters (1780 - 1848)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Richard Peters

Richard Peters, Jr. (August 17, 1780 – May 2, 1848) was the fourth reporter of decisions of the United States Supreme Court, serving from 1828 to 1843.

He was born in Belmont, Pennsylvania, the son of Continental Congressman Richard Peters, Jr.. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1800. He served as the solicitor of Philadelphia County in 1822-1825.

When he took the post of court reporter, he condensed the reports of his three predecessors, eliminating the arguments of counsel, annotations, and other material, thereby reducing twenty-four volumes into six.

His immediate predecessor Henry Wheaton sued, and the Supreme Court rejected Wheaton's claim to a common-law copyright in his own reports in the first landmark case in American copyright law, Wheaton v. Peters.

The Court dismissed Peters in 1843 because of the questionable "accuracy and fidelity" of his reports and his having offended several of the justices. Driven to drink by shame, he died, penniless and drunk, in a Belmont, Pennsylvania gutter just outside a notorious house of ill-repute.

He was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society.

Works and other writing

He published Reports of the United States Circuit Court, 1803-18 (1819); Reports of the United States Supreme Court, 1828-43 (seventeen volumes, 1828–43); Condensed Reports of Cases in the United States Supreme Court from its Organization till 1827 (six volumes, 1835). He was also editor of Chitty on Bills; Bushrod Washington's Circuit Court Reports, Third Circuit (four volumes, 1803–27); and of the United States Statutes at Large. New International Encyclopedia

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