Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

att iched for contempt in violating the superserleas. There is no dispute abuut the facts, and the simple question is whether they make out a case of contempt on the part of Moore. We have no hesitation in saying they do not. It was decided in Board Com’rs v. Gorman, 19 Wall. 661, which was followed in Kitchen v. Randolph, 93 U. S. 86, that a writ of error operates as a supersedeas only from the time of the lodging of the writ in the oflice of the clerk where the record to be re-examined remains; and in Doyle v. Wisconsin, 94 U. S. 50, that the provision of section 1007 of the Revised Statutes, to the effect that in cases where a writ of error may be a supersedeas executions shall not issue until the expiration of 10 days, does not apply io judgments in the highest court of a state. We see no reason to modify these rulings. It follows that the supersedeas was not in force when Moore was appointed to and accepted the office.

The judgment operated of itself to remove Foster, and leave his office va.." cant. It needed no execution to carry it into effect. The statute gave the judge of the district court authority to fill the vacancy thus created. The judge was officially notified of the vacancy on the 7th, when the authenticated copy of the record of the supreme court was presented to him. The operation of that judgment was not stayed by the supersedeas until the 8th, that being the date of the lodging of the writ of error in the clerk's office. It follows that the office was, in fact, vacant when Moore accepted his appointment, gave his bond, and took the requisite oath. He was thus in office before the supersedeas became operative. What effect the supersedeas had when it was afterwards obtained, on the previous appointment, we need not now consider. This is not an appropriate form of proceeding to determine whether Foster or Moore is now legally in office.

The rule is discharged.

(112 U. 8. 33)
SKIDMORE and others v. PITTSBURGH, C. & St. L. Ry. Co.

(October 27, 1884.) 1. REAL PROPERTY-EJECTMENT-LEASE BY GRANTEE UNDER TIME CONTRACT--Right ou

Poss ESSION.

Land sold under a time contract. which is completed subsequently to the executing of a 99-year lease of his purchase by the grantee, is not subject to an action in ejectment against the latter, even if the deed to him is executed after the lease is.

The lessee is entitled to the possession, whether the title be good or bad. 2. SAME-LEASE BY EQUITABLE GRANTEE BEFORE CONFIRMATION op TITLE.

The contirming by deed in fee-simple of an equitable into a legal title, after the execution of a lease of the land by the grantee, vests the possession in him to whom the lease is made. In Error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois.

Geo. Willard and Geo. Dugys, for plaintiffs in error. No brief filed for defendant in error.

WAITE, C. J. This was an action of ejectment, and the material facts found by the court below, on which the case comes here for decision, are as follows: In the spring of 1868 the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Railroad Company purchased the premises in dispute upon time contracts, by which the purchase money was to be fully paid within four years, and a conveyance made when the payments were completed. Immediately on making the purchase the company went into possession of the premises, “and erected thereon its engine-houses and certain shops, structures, and side tracks necessary for the operation of its railroad.” On the first of February, 1869, the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway Company “became the lesses of the railway and property of the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Kailway Company for the term of ninety-nine years, and immediately

•34

thereafter entered into the possession of said railroad, and all its lands and property, including the property in controversy." The lease was recorded in Cook county, Illinois, where the premises are situated, on the twenty-first of July, 1873. It does not purport to convey after-acquired property, but the premises in question are, and since the lease was made have been, occupied and used by the lessee for railway purposes, “the same as though they were included in the lease.” On the second of February, 1872, the purchase money having been paid in full according to the terms of the contract, a deed was execuied conveying the premises to the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company in fee-simple. On the nineteenth of April, 1873, William B. Skidmore, since deceased, recovered a judgment against the last-named company in the Cook county circuit court. Execution issued on this judgment was levied on the premises on the tenth of June, 1873. Under this execution the property was sold to William B. Skidmore on the tenth of July, and a conveyance made to Harriet Skidmore, Lemuel Skidmore, and William B. Skidmore, his heirs, in due course of proceeding, on the third of May, 1876. The heirs, who are the plaintiffs in error, claiming under this title, brought this suit against the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company, which was in possession, to recover the property. Upon these facts the court below gave judgment in favor of the railway company, and to reverse that judgment this writ of error has been brought.

*The judgment below was clearly right. The Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company was, in equity, the owner of the property when the lease was inade, and when the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company went into possession under it. The deed executed in February, 1872, pursuant to the contract of purchase, converted the equitable title of the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company into a legal title, which at once, by operation of law, inured to the benefit of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company under its lease. All the rights of William B. Skidmore as against the property accrued long after those of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company, and are subject to the title of that company. Such being the case, it is entirely unnecessary to inquire whether the Skidmores acquired a valid title to the property as against the Columbus, Chicago & Indiana Central Company The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Company is entitled to the possession, whether that title be good or bad.

The judgment is affirmed.

*30

(112 U. S. 24)

MOFFAT, Jr., and another o. UNITED STATES. (Two Cases.)

(October 27, 1884.)

1. Public LANDS-Patent—FRAUDULENT ISSUE-PRESUMPTION AS TO REGULARITY.

The presumption as to the regularity of the proceedings which precedes the issue of a patent of the United States for land, is founded upon the theory that every of ficer charged with supervising any part of them, or acting under the obligations of his oath, will do his duty, and is indulged as a protection against collateral acts of

third parties. 2. SAME-SUIT BY UNITED STATES AGAINST PATENTEE-Burden of Proof.

In a suit by the United States directly assailing a patent and seeking its cancellation for fraud in the conduct of their oilicers, the burden of proof is upon the United States to show a fatal irregularity or corrupt couduct on their part; but when a case is established which, if unexplained, would warrant a conclusion against them, the burden of proof is shifted, and they must show such integrity of

conduct and such a compliance with the law as will sustain the patent. 3. SAME-UNITED STATES DOES NOT GUARANTY INTEGNITY OF OFFICERS.

The government does not guaranty the integrity of its officers nor the validity of their acts. Such officers are but servants of the law, and if they depart from its requirements the government is not bound.

4. SAME-PATENT TO FICTITIOE'S PARTIES-EFFECT OF SUCA PATENT.

Patents issued to fictitions parties cannot transfer title, and no one can derive

any right under a conveyance in the name of the supposed patentees. 5. SAME-PATENT TO Fictitious PARTY-SUBSEQUENT PURCHASERS.

A pacent to a fictitious party being in legal effect only a declaration that the government conveys the patent to no one, there is in such case no room for the doc

trine that subsequent purchasers are protected. 6. SAME — PATENT TO MYTHICAL PERSON – RETURN OF ConsiderATION - AGENT OF THE

PRETENDED PATENTEE.

Pretended patentees having no actual existence, the consideration for the patent cannot be returned to them, and for the same reason they can have no agents to act in their behalf.

U. S. v. Throckmorton, 98 U. S. 61, and Vance v. Burbank, 101 U. S. 514, distinguished. Appeals from the United ates Circuit Court for the District of Colorado.

These are suits to cancel two patents of the United States for land in Colo rado, bearing date on the fourth of October, 1873, and purporting to be issued, one to a person by the name of Philip Quinlan, and the other to a person by: the name of Eli Turner, upon proof of settlement and improvement by them under the pre-emption laws. Tbeir cancellation is sought on the ground that the patentees named were fictitious parties; that no settlement or improvement on the lands was ever made; that the documents alleging settleinent and improvement were fabricated by the register and the receiver of the landoffice of the district, embracing the land covered by the patents, to defraud the government of the property.

The two suits present substantially the same facts, differing only as to the parties concerned in the proceedings, and the land patented, and were considered together by the court. The bill in the first case alleges substantially as follows: That the register and the receiver of public moneys of the landoffice at Pueblo, in Colorado, conspiring to defraud the government of a patent for the land upon the pretext that the same was due to some person, who had performed the duties required of him by the acts of congress in that behalf, had written out, in the form prescribed by law, a declaratory statement in the fictitious name of Philip Quinlan, representing that he had declared his intention to claim the land as a pre-emptioner; and also an affidavit. purporting to be signed by him and sworn to before the register, stating that he had made a settlement upon the land, and improved it in good faith, in order to appropriate it to his exclusive use and benefit, and not for the purpose of sale or speculation; that he had not, directly or indirectly, made an agreement with any person, or in any manner, whereby the title he might acquire would inure, in whole or in part, to the benefit of any one except himself; that they had also prepared an affidavit, purporting to be signed and sworn to before the register by two other fictitious persons, named Michael Quinlan and Orrin R. Peasley, in which it was stated, among other things, that the supposed Philip Quinlan was a single man, over the age of 21 years, a citizen of the United States, and an inhabitant of the land; that no other person resided thereon entitled to the right of pre-emption; that lie had made a settlement thereon on the first of May, 1872, had built a house and made other*improve. ments, and had lived in the house and made it his exclusive home from the fifteenth of May, 1872, to that date, May 8, 1873, and had plowed, fenced, and cultivated 18 acres of the same.

The bill also alleges that at this time the receiver was the owner of a certain amount of agricultural college scrip issued by the state of Florida; and, for the purpose of locating the land with it in the name of the said Quinlan, the register and the receiver had inserted in a blank indorsement his fictitious name and residence, and in that name had located the scrip on the land; and also that they had done divers other acts to cause the plaintiff to believe that the supposed Philip Quinlan was a real person, who had actually appeared before them and made the statements and proof required by law and the regulations of the land-office to entitle him to the pre-emption of the land, and had sworn to such proof before the register; that they had prepared duplicate certificates in the form prescribed by law, setting forth that the said supposed person, represented by said fictitious name, had located the agricultural col. lege scrip, and made due proof of his right to pre-empt said land and receive a patent therefor, and forward one of them to the general land-office at Washington, and requested a patent for the land to be issued in the name of the said supposed person; that in June, 1873, an agent of the defendant, David H. Moffat, Jr., appeared before the officers of the said general land-office and presented to them the other duplicate certificate, and also requested them to issue the patent desired, and transinit the same to him, (the agent,) and that said officers, confiding in the honesty and integrity of the receiver and the register, and believing the statements contained in the supposed proof forwarded to them, had issued the patent and transmitted it to said agent.

The bill further alleges that no person by the name of Quinlan had ever settled upon the land, or appeared and presented himself before the register and the receiver at any time, or made any declaratory statement or proof of preemption, either as a pre-emptor or witness, and charges that said papers were made by the register and the receiver for the purpose of fraudulently depriving the United States of their title to the land, and vesting the same in the defendant Moffat; that said Moffat now has the patent and claims to hold the legal title by virtue of certain mesne conveyances, namely, one executed on the twenty-third day of May, 1873, in the name of said supposed Philip Quinlan to a fictitious person by the name of Henry H. Perry, and a conveyance by said fictitious person, dated the twenty-third day of June, 1873, to himself; that the deeds from said supposed parties and the patent have been placed on record in the office of the recorder of the county in Colorado, where the land is situated, and constitute a cloud upon the title of complainant; that on the fifteenth of September, 1883, said Moffat executed a deed conveying an undivided half of the property covered by the patent to Robert E. Carr, as trustee, and that the deed is on record. And the bill charges that the said Moffat was well aware at the time he received the conveyances and the said patent of the fraudulent means by which the patent was obtained; that no valuable consideration passed from Carr to him; and that Carr also was fully informed that the supposed pre-emption and proceedings were false and fraudulent. The plaintiff therefore prays that the patent may be set aside and declared void, and delivered up to be canceled, and that the deeds from Quinlan to Perry, and from Perry to Moffat, and from Moffat to Carr, may also be adjudged void.

In the second case, the bill, as finally amended, alleges a similar conspiracy to defraud the government of a patent for another tract of land in the name of another fictitious person upon proofs by other supposititious persons, the pretended pre-emptor being Eli Turner, and the pretended witnesses to prove compliance with the pre-emption law being Simeon D. Porter and Anson Beck. The bill also alleges a conveyance from the pretended Eli Turner to a fictitious person, by the name of Thomas Harris, in June, 1873, and a conveyance from Harris to the defendant Moffat in the same month, and that such proceedings were had that on the fourth of October, 1873, a patent was issued for the land in the name of Eli Turner. And the bill charges that Moffat was cognizant of the false and fraudulent character of the alleged preemption of Turner, and of the proofs offered in its support, and prays, as in the first case, that the patent be set aside and canceled, and the deeds of the supposed Turner and Harris be adjudged void.

The defendants answered the bills in both cases, denying their material allegations, and the charges of conspiracy and fraud, to which answers replications were filed. The testimony taken fully established the truth of the alle. gations and charges, except as to the knowledge by Moffat and Carr of the

* 29 * 30

alleged frands; and the circuit court decreed the cancellation of the patents and the mesne conveyances purporting to pass the title from the pretended patentees to Moffat, and from him to Carr. From these decrees the defendants have appealed, and seek a reversal on four grounds, which are substantially as follows: First, that the evidence that the patentees were fictitious parties was insufficient to overcome the presumption arising from the patents themselves, and the certificates of the register and the receiver; second, that as the frauds alleged were committed by public officers, the receiver and the register, the government was bound by their acts, and the court erred in not giving effect to the patents and conveyances, so as to protect the defendants claiming under them; third, that Moffat and Carr were innocent purchasers for value, and, as such, were protected against the consequences of the alleged fraudulent methods by which the patents were issued; and, fourth, that no offer was made in the bill in either case to return the scrip received by the government for the land.

L. C. Rockwell, for appellants. Asst. Atty. Gen. Maury, for appellees. * FIELD, J. These cases present the same questions, and may be considered together. In our judgment, none of the positions of the appellants justifies our interference with the decrees of the court below. The presumption as to the regularity of the proceedings which precede the issue of a patent of the United States for land, is founded upon the theory that every officer charged with supervising any part of them, and acting under the obligation of his oath, will do his duty, and is indulged as a protection against collateral attacks of third parties. It may be admitted, as stated by counsel, that if, upon any state of facts, the patent might have been lawfully issued, the court will presume, as against such collateral attacks, that the facts existed; but that presumption has no place in a suit by the United States directly assailing the patent, and seeking its cancellation for fraud in the conduct of their officers. In such a suit the burden of proof is undoubtedly, in the first instance, on the government to show a fatal irregularity or corrupt conduct on their part; but when a case is established, which, if unexplained, would warrant a conclusion against them, the burden of proof is shifted, and they must show such integrity of conduct and such a compliance with the law as will sustain the patent. Its validity is, then, determinable, like any other controverted fact, upon the weight of evidence produced in support of and against their action.

There was no presumption here in favor of the officers which the testimony produced by the complainant did not entirely rebut and overthrow. Numerous witnesses, living in the immediate neighborhood of the land, testified that they were well acquainted with it, had been frequently upon it; that no one resided there; and that no improvements were made as stated in the preemption papers. They also testified that they never knew nor heard of persons by the names of the alleged pre-emptors, nor of the persons whose names were used in the attempted proof of settlement and cultivation. Neither the register nor the receiver came forward to disprove the conclusions which this testimony justified, that the pretended pre-emptors and patentees were ficti. tious persons. The suggestion that real parties may have appeared before the register and the receiver as pre-emptors and witnesses, having the names used, though usually known by different names, is far-fetched, and merits no* consideration where the fact, with reasonable explanation for the use of the unusual names, was not established, nor proof adduced of the settlement on and improvement of the land. No such attempt was made, and if it had been, it would, according to the evidence received, have signally failed.

The position that, as the fravds charged were committed by officers of the United States, the court erred in not holding their acts to be binding, and in not giving to the patents the force of valid conveyances, is certainly a novel one. The government does not guaranty the integrity of its officers, nor the validity of their acts. It prescribes rules for them, requires an oath for the

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »