The hearing in the habeas corpus proceedings was held Feb. 9 by Judge Buffington, of the United States District Court. Mr. Ferguson, Von der Ahe's attorney, showed by his client's testimony that the abduction had been forcible, and that Von der Ahe had not been permitted to see his attorney at St. Louis. The attorney for W.A. Nimick, Von der Ahe's bondsman in the Mark Baldwin suit, cited several Supreme Court decisions to show that a bondsman has the right to go into any State and take therefrom the defendant without a requistition.
In his decision Judge Buffington laid down the principle that a man's bondsman has absolute custody of his principal, no matter in what State he may be in, at any time or place. When he does take him the arrest is not made by virtue of a court paper, but in the exercise of an undoubted right, based upon the relations the parties have established between themselves. The Supreme Court of New York, in Nichols vs. Ingersoll and Johnson, 541, and the Supreme Courts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania hold that the contract between the bondsman and the principal which was enforceable in another without recourse to extradition proceedings. The United State Supreme Court, in Taylor vs. Taintor, 10 Wallace, 371, decided on the same principle.
On the evening of Feb. 12, Von der Ahe was placed behind bars in the Allegheny County jail, to await the arrival of money to pay the Baldwin judgment. His attorney said the judgment, costs and interest would be satisfied on Monday, but he expected to refuse to pay the bill of $917.27 for kidnapping expenses, for which Mr. Nimick contends. Chris submitted to imprisonment with good grace and walked jauntily to his cell, after having turned over to the warden his diamonds and valuables, as required by prison rules. It is stated that soon after being locked up Von der Ahe became sick, and a physician had to be summoned, but his illness was not serious.
Von der Ahe spent a quiet Sunday in the county jail, hearing his imprisonment with stolidity. During the day he received several telegrams, including one from Muckenfuss, of the St. Louis Club, which stated that the funds to get him out would surely arrive in Pittsburg by Monday. Watkins, of the Pittsburg Club, called at the jail on Sunday, but was not admitted to see Von der Ahe. It is understood that Watkins and other Pittsburgers are prepared to put up the money in case the money does not come from St. Louis.
-New York Clipper, February 19, 1898
And one has to say that the court decided that this was not a kidnapping. According to the legal dictionary at Free Dictionary.com, kidnapping "occurs when a person, without lawful authority, physicall asports (i.e., moves) another person without that other person's consent, with the intent to use the abduction in connection with some other nefarious objective." The court decided that Nimick's detectives had the legal authority to remove Von der Ahe from St. Louis to Pittsburgh. So, not a kidnapping.