Worried by the courts that convened in America and in Massachusetts in particular, and their bias toward the colonists over their British governors, on May 20, 1774, the Parliament passed the Administration of Justice Act. It provided that the governor of Massachusetts had the authority to remove any trial proceeding to another colony or to Great Britain; that witnesses could be compelled to travel to the trial; and that in any case, bail was required even in capital cases if the defendant contended that the crime of which they were accused was committed while acting in an official capacity, such as the suppression of riots.
The act purports to induce public servants to perform their duties by removing fear of prosecution, a principle that extends to the United States, where any public servants are immune from prosecution for certain acts; however, the provision that the trial would be removed to Great Britain made it impossible to try persons who deserved to be tried; the compelling of witnesses to travel to Great Britain further made trial impossible (even though the Act did provide for the expenses of the witnesses to be paid). These provisions lead the colonists to rename the act the Murder Act, reflecting their fears that insurrections would be put down with deadly force.
The Administration of Justice Act is one of the Intolerable Acts that lead to dissent in the American colonies and to the creation of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances in 1774. It is also known as the Impartial Administration of Justice Act.
The other Intolerable Acts are the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Quartering Act, and the Quebec Act.