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jurisdiction of the Admiralty was sustained in a well-reasoned opinion by Judge Blatchford. A similar decision has been made in this district by Judge Lowell in the case of The Caroline.
On p. 241 is a charge of Judge Blatchford in one of the Champagne cases, which have so much occupied the attention of the United States Courts for several years past.
The other cases in this number present points of much interest, and will well repay perusal.
Reports of Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of California,
at the October Term, 1867, and January Term, 1868. J. E. Hale, Reporter. Vol. 34. San Francisco : Sumner Whitney. 1868.
Tuis volume of reports, which we have just received, contains several interesting cases, of which we indicate a few below.
An action for libel will lie against a corporation. Maynard v. Firemen's Fund Ins. Co., p. 48.
A demurrer will not lie to a complaint, declaring on a promissory note, which fails to show or aver that the note was duly stamped. Halločk v.Jaudin, p. 167; following Trull v. Moulton, 12 All. 396, and Hitchcock v. Sawyer, 39 Vt. 412.
In Arrington v. Liscom, p. 365, it is held, that adverse possession of land for a sufficient length of time, under the Statute of Limitations, does not merely bar the party against whom the possession is adverse of his remedy, but gives ao absolute right of possession, so that one so in possession is entitled to all the remedies given by the law to quiet his possession, and may therefore maintain an action against one having the record title, to have the claim under such title declared null and void as against him.
In Hahn v. Kelly, p. 391, is an interesting discussion on the distinction between courts of superior and inferior jurisdiction.
Turner v. North Beach & Mission R.R. Co., p. 594. The plaintiff, a colored woman, was put off a car of the defendants by the conductor. It was held, that the plaintiff could recover against the defendants only for the damage she had actually received; that, to render them liable for punitive or exemplary damages, it must be shown that the conductor's conduct was authorized or ratified by the defendants, and this not being shown, a verdict for the plaintiff for $750 was set aside as excessive. The case of Pleasants v. Same, p. 586, is to a similar effect.
Where a party seeks to have a conveyance made by him, which is absolute on its face, declared a mortgage, to secure the performance of an oral agreement by him to pay an amount in gold coin, he cannot be allowed to redeem without tendering the amount due in gold coin; and this not under what is known as the “Specific Contract Act,” legalizing contracts in writing for the payment of gold, but on the ground, that he who seeks equity must do equity. Cowing v. Rogers,
It is competent for the State legislature to enact, that all tolls, dockage, and wharfage charges, payable into the public treasury, shall be due and collectible exclusively in gold and silver money of the United States. People v. Steamer Africa, p. 676.
The Constitution of California provides that, “ Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the State. All property in this State shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as directed by law, except such property as two-thirds of both houses of the legislatu may
proper to exempt from taxation." A tax was imposed, by statute, on all property in the State, with the exception of certain classes. Held, that the exception was void, and the tax must be levied on all the property in the State. People v. McCreery, p. 432. This overrules the case of People v. Coleman, 4 Cal. 46.
A State statute, requiring stamps of a certain value to be placed on all passenger tickets, and on all contracts for passage on vessels leaving the State, is unconstitutional, as violating the provision in the Constitution of the United States, empowering Congress to regulate commerce. People v. Raymond, p. 492.
The cases are accurately reported, but the head-notes are not what they should be; they consist mainly of extracts from the opinion of the court, touching often merely collateral matters, and, though very long, they fail sometimes to present the points decided.
Reports of Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. By
PEACHY R. GRATTAN. Vol. XVIII. From Oct. 1, 1867 to Oct. 1, 1868. Richmond, 1868.
A YEAR's work of the Court of Appeals of Virginia has produced this bulky volume of nearly eleven hundred pages. The space is not unworthily occupied. The cases it contains involved the discussion of some of the most important and most intricate doctrines of the law; and these have been handled by the court with marked ability. With few exceptions, we do not remember to have seen anywhere in the pages of this reporter more important discussions than the cases of Martin v. Snowden, Taylor v. Stearns, De Voss v. City of Richmond, Gordon v. Cannon, Dearing v. Rucker, Brummel v. Enders.
The doctrine of the Virginia Appellate Court on the question of usury, as settled in Whitworth v. Adams,.5 Rand. 333, differs from that avowed in other appellate courts of the Union. In Brummel v. Enders, p. 873, just decided by this court, the judges reasserted Whitworth v. Adams, and declared that the doctrines announced in that case had been too firmly grounded in the practice of the State now to be overruled. It may henceforth be regarded as settled law in Virginia, that, if one make his negotiable note blank as to the name of the payee, and put it into the hands of an agent to be sold for his benefit, and the agent sells it at a greater discount than the legal rate of interest to a purchaser who is not informed that the note is sold for the benefit of the maker, it is not usury. This doctrine of the Virginia court is opposed to that of New York, Powell v. Waters, 17 John. 181; s.c. 8 Cowen, 669; Munn v. Commission Co., 15 John. 55, Bennet v. Smith, id. 355; of South Carolina, Flemming v. Mulligan, 2 McCord, 176; of Maryland, Sauerwein v. Brunner, 1 Har. & Gill, 483; Cockey v. Forrest, 3 Gill & J. 490; of Connecticut, Belden v. Lamb, 17 Conn. 453; and of North Carolina, Simpson v. Fullenwider, 12 Iredell, 337 ; yet with this array of authority against it, we think the court did right in adhering to its own decisions. Certainty in the law is of the greatest importance, and parties, when they contract, ought to be held to have made their contract with reference to the law as then or before declared by the courts.
The case of Gordon v. Cannon, p. 387, reported in this volume, also presents a marked distinction between the doctrines of the Virginia Court of Appeals and other appellate tribunals. When the court in Skipwith v. Cunningham, 8 Leigh, 271, Kevan v. Branch, 1 Gratt. 274, and Phippen v. Durham, 8 Gratt. 457, declared that a debtor in failing circumstances might parcel off his property among his creditors in such proportions as he chose, creating the order of priority, and might at the same time covenant for a full and absolute release to himself of all liability as a condition of his creditors receiving any thing, it was certainly carry. ing the doctrine of dominion over property (that once belonged to him) very far; and it was apprehended that consequences would flow from it scarcely within the range of the judge's vision who first declared it. Gordon v. Cannon carries out this doctrine to its legitimate extent. Once on the inclined plane, we do not see how the judges could refuse to go to the bottom. They have reached it. The present judges of the Virginia Court of Appeals are not responsible for this. With McCullough v. Somerville, 8 Leigh, 271, before them, we cannot see how they could have done less than they have done. The syllabus of the case is worth reciting in full, that the latest and most emphatic utterance of the Virginia doctrine may be known : “1. A debtor in failing circumstances may convey his whole property for payment of his debts, giving preferences among his creditors, and requiring 3 release from such as accept it. 2. To render such a deed valid, the whole of the debtor's property must be conveyed by it; but this need not appear on the face of the deed. 3. A partnership in failing circumstances has the same power; and if two of three partners convey all the effects of the firm and their individual property, and the third has none, they may require a release, both of the firm and all the members, by the creditors who accept the deed. ... 8. R. A. & Co. stopped business, and R. & R., two of the members of that firm and P., formed the firm of R. R. & Co. They failed, and conveyed all the assets of both firms, and the individual property of R. in trust, to pay indiscriminately a debt of R., and the debts of the two firms; and they required a release. The deed is valid; but it will be reformed, so as to apply the property of each to pay first the debts of that person or firm from whom or which the property was derived."
Why not declare, at once, that there is no such thing as constructive fraud in Virginia?
Perhaps the most important decision in the volume is that of Taylor v. Stearns, p. 244, involving the constitutionality of the recent Stay Laws of Virginia. We take pleasure in saying that the court in this case has met the issue of constitutionality fairly, and in a judgment deserving universal commendation has declared the laws unconstitutional. How could they do otherwise with Bronson v. Kinzie, 1 How. 311, Sturgis v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 122, Green v. Biddle, 8 Wheat. I, all conclusively establishing (as the couft say) the unconstitutionality of the law? The counsel for the law struggled hard with these decisions, and cited almost numberless State cisions; but the Virginia court followed the Supreme Court decisions, and the result is before us in the opinion of Rives, J., covering some thirty pages of the present volume.
Dearing v. Rucker, p. 426, decided in this volume, has been the subject of severe censure on the one hand, and of great laudation on the other. The parties pro and con, are as multitudinous as there are varying interests. The case was this: R. owed D. for money reccived of or for him at several periods before June 11, 1862. On that day, an account was stated, interest charged, amount ascertained and a check given by R. to D. for the amount. The check, if presented at bank on that day, would have been paid in Confederate money. R. made an entry on his books closing the account. On the same day, D. returned the check to R., and took R.'s note for the amount, payable Jan. 1, 1863, the note carrying four (not six) per cent, by special agreement. The question was, whether the debt should be scaled as of the value of Confederate money on the 14th June, 1862, or on the 1st January, 1863. Held, by two of the judges (Joynes and Rives, JJ.), that the latter date was the right time. Moncure, President, dissented. The opinions of Joynes, J., on the one hand, and of President Moncure on the other, are extremely able and acute.
In Martin v. Snowden, p. 100, the court held that the fourth section of the Act of Congress, June 7, 1862, entitled, “ An act for the collection of taxes in the insurrectionary districts,” does not and is not intended to create such a forfeiture of the land to the United States as that it ipso facto ceases to be the property of the former owner and becomes the absolute property of the United States.
Our attention has been also specially directed to the cases of Jett v. Commonwealth, Arents v. Commonwealth, Rosenbaum v. Weedon, reported in this volume. In Jett's Case, p. 933, the question was made, that the State Court had not jurisdiction to punish an act made an offence by a law of the Congress of the United States, though the same act was made an offence by the laws of the State. The court held that though the act was punishable under the law of Congress, that did not deprive the State tribunals of their jurisdiction in the premises in enforcing a penalty of its own laws, there being no reason to believe that Congress designed by its enactment to exclude the jurisdiction of the State Courts under the State laws. Arents v. Commonwealth, p. 750, involved the discussion and decision of the character of coupons for interest past maturity, upon bonds issued by the city of Wheeling, and guaranteed by the State, — whether if stolen after they become due, and come to the hands of a bona fide holder for value, they could be held by him against the rightful owner. The court said, that, though coupons were in the form of orders to pay money, they were not to be regarded as bills of exchange; that nevertheless a coupon must be presented for payment within a reasonable time after it becomes due and payable so as to save the liability of the guarantor, in case of any injury resulting from delay, and that it became due and payable on the day fixed for the payment of interest, although it was not required that it should be presented for payment on the day it became due. The court therefore held, that coupons stolen after they became due, though they came subsequently into the hands of a bona fide holder for value, could not be held by him against the rightful owner. In pronouncing the opinion of the court, Joynes, J., said, “If we regard these coupons as mere tokens or tickets or interest warrants indicating the times and places when and where certain sums will be due, and payable for interest on the bond, we satisfy the language in which they are expressed, and make them consistent with the bond and with the purposes for which coupons are desired.” This strikes us as the true view, and it reconciles and removes a number of embarrassing difficulties, which, on the supposition that they were bills of exchange, would necessarily be presented.
In Rosenbaum v. Weedon, p. 785, the court disapproved of McEachron v. Randles, 34 Barb. 301. The case was this: W., a merchant, sold goods to R. R. returned the goods, and refused to complete the contract. W. informed R. that he would hold him to the contract, and that he held the goods for R. R. still refused to take the goods and pay for them. It was held, that W. might sell the goods and sue R. for the loss upon them, and that he was not bound to give R. notice of the time and place of sale, and though he gave such notice he might postpone the sale to another day, if it seemed judicious. The court said that it was the duty of the vendor to notify the vendee of his intention to resell the goods at the latter's risk; but that he was not bound to notify the vendee of the day and place of sale, even though it be at auction. The court cited Gashell v. Morris, 7 W. & S. 22, and Crooks v. Moore, 1 Sand. Sup. Ct. 297, to sustain them in this view.
Other important cas are contained in the volume; but our notice of it is already as long as our space will permit. It is a pity that the opinions of this able court should not have wider currency. If the copyright were in the hands of private publishers, we might expect this. Under the present system of State copyrighting and State publishing, it cannot be hoped for.
Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of
Massachusetts. By HORACE GRAY, Jr. Vol. XV. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. 1862.
The publication of this volume leaves only two volumes more necessary to make the series of Massachusetts Reports complete, — the Sixteenth of Gray and the Fourteenth of Allen; both of which will, we hope, see the light in the course of the present year.
The cases now published were decided in the year 1860; but, although this was only nine years ago, there is not a single member of the court then who remains on it at present: the resignation of Mr. Justice Hoar breaking the last link.
The opinions are mostly very brief, and not particularly interesting. As the volume was published too late for us to make use of it for our Digest of State Reports, we notice below some of the more striking cases :
If a wife leaves her husband's house because of his violence, and from reasonable apprehension of her safety, he is liable for her board; and also for the board of their child whom she takes with her, if, knowing where the child is, he makes no attempt to reclaim it; and he is not discharged from such liability by his wife's subsequent return to his house. Reynolds v. Sweetser, p. 78. Compare Bazeley v. Forder, Law Rep. 3 Q. B. 559, 3 Am. Law Rev. 273.
Upon the taking for a public highway, by the right of eminent domain, of a franchise to build and maintain a bridge, the proprietors are not entitled to compensation for the value of the bridge as a structure, but for the loss of their franchise only. Central Bridge Corporation v. Lowell, p. 106.
The abuse of legal authority which will make a person a trespasser ab initio, is the abuse of some special and particular authority given by law; and the doctrine does not apply to the case of an agent in a factory, who uses improper force in ejecting a disorderly person employed there. Esty v. Wilmot, p. 168. Is it not rather a stretch of words, to call the right to enter a tavern (see Sis Carpenters' Case) a special and particular authority given by law?