Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

forbids the passage by the states of laws such as are described. If any such are nevertheless passed by the legislature of a state, they are unconstitutional, null, and void. In any judicial proceeding necessary to vindicate his rights under a contract affected by such legislation, the individual has a right to bave a judicial determination declaring the nullity of the attempt to impair its obligation. This is the only right secured to him by that clause of the constitution. But of this right the plaintiff does not show that he has been deprived. He has simply chosen not to resort to it. The right to pay his taxes in coupons, and the immunity from further proceedings, in case of a rejected tender, are not rights directly secured to him by the constitution, and only so indirectly as they happen in this case to be the rights of contract which he holds under the laws of Virginia. And the only mode in which that constitutional security takes effect is by judicial process to invalidate the unconstitutional legislation of the state, when it is set up against the enforcement of his rights under his contract. The mode in which congress has legislated in aid of the rights secured by that clause of the constitution, is, as is pointed out with clearness and fullness in the opinion of the court in the Civil Rights Cases, 109 U. S. 3-12, S. C. 3 SUP. CT. REP. 18, by providing for a review on writ of error to the judgments of the state courts, in cases where they have failed properly to give it effect, and by conferring jurisdiction upon the circuit courts by the act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, (18 St. 470,) of all cases arising under the •constitution and laws of the United States, where the sum or value in dispute exceeds $500. Congress has provided no other remedy for the enforcement of this right.

It might be dificult to enumerate the several descriptions of rights secured to individuals by the constitution, the deprivation of which, by any person, would subject the latter to an action for redress under section 1979, Rev. St.; and, fortunately, it is not necessary to do so in this case. It is sufficient to say that the declaration now before us does not show a cause of action within its terms.

The judgment of the circnit court is accordingly afirmed.

(114 U. S. 323)

PLEASANTS O. GREENHOW, Treasurer, eto."

(April 20, 1885.) CARTER V. GREENHOW, ANTE, 928, FOLLOWED.

This case falls within the decision in Carter v. Greenhor, anto, 928. Appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Wm. L. Royall, Wager Swayne, and D. H. Chamberlain, for appellant. F. 8. Blair, Atty. Gen., for appellee.

MATTHEWS, J. This is a bill in equity filed by the appellant, a citizen of Virginia, praying that the defendant, Greenhow, treasurer of the city of Richmond, may be perpetually enjoined from taking steps, by distraint of the complainant's property, to collect certain taxes claimed by the defendant to be due to the state of Virginia, amounting to $36.25, but for which the bill avers the complainant tendered in payment the exact amount thereof, for a part, coupons cut from bonds issued by the state under the act of March 30, 1871, and part in money. On demurrer to the bill, it was dismissed by the circuit court for want of jurisdiction, the amount in controversy being less than $500, and the complainant has brought this appeal. It is sought to maintain the jurisdiction in this case on the ground that the suit is authorized by section 1979, Rev. St., jurisdiction to entertain which is conferred by the sixteenth clause of section 629, Rev. St. The case comes within the decision just rendered in Carter v. Greenhow, ante, 928, and is governed by it. It is

'See dissenting opinion, post, 962.

not, in our opinion, such a suit as is contemplated by the sections of the Re vised Statutes referred to. As the sum or value in controversy does not exceed $500, the suit cannot be maintained as a case arising under the constitution and laws of the United States, provided for in the act of March 3, 1875, C. 137, (18 St. 470.) The bill was, therefore, rightly dismissed.

The decree of the circuit court is accordingly affirmed.

66

[ocr errors]

(114 U. S. 325)
MARYE, Auditor, etc., and others 0. PARSONS."

(April 20, 1885.) VIRGINIA BONDS—RIGHTS OF COUPON-HOLDER UNDER ACT OF MARCH 30, 1871-PLEAD

INGINJUNCTION,

The contract right of a coupon-holder under the Virginia act of March 30, 1871, whereby his coupons are receivable in payment of taxes, can be exercised only by a tax-payer; and a bill in equity, for an injunction to restrain tax collectors from refusing to receive them, when tendered in payment of taxes, will not lie in behalf of a coupon-holder who does not allege himself to be also a tax-payer. Such a bill calls for a decree declaring merely an abstract right, and does not show any breach

of the contract, or other ground of relief. Appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Virginia.

F. 8. Blair, Atty. Gen., A. H. Garland, R. T. Merrick, and Walter R. Staples, for appellants. Richard L. Maury, Wager Swayne, and D. H. Chamberlain, for appellee.

MATTHEWS, J. The appellee, who was complainant below, a citizen of New York, filed his bill in equity, in the circuit court of the United States for the Eastern district of Virginia, against Morton Marye, described as Auditor of the Commonwealth of Virginia;" Samuel C. Greenhow, treasurer of the city of Richmond; A. L. Hill, treasurer of the city of Norfolk, and V. G. Dunnington, treasurer of the city of Lynchburg; R. B. Munford, commissioner of revenue for the city of Richmond; Charles W. Price, for the city of Lynchburg, and Charles D. Langley, for tbe city of Norfolk; all citizens of Virginia.

The complainant avers in his bill that he is the owner of overdue coupons to the amount of $28,010, cut from bonds of the state of Virginia, issued under the act of March 30, 1871, which coupons are receivable, by the terms of that act, in payment, at and after maturity, for all taxes, debts, and demands due the state. A list of these coupons, described by the numbers and amounts of the bonds, is exhibited with the bill. He claims that these coupons constitute a contract with the state, by which it agreed to pay the amount of each to the holder at maturity; and, second, in case of default, that the holder should have the right to assign or transfer the same to any tax-payer or other debtor of the state, with the quality of being received for taxes and other demands due the state, and with the guaranty that the state would receive them specifically in payment pro tanto for any such taxes and demands, and that they should be accepted by any of her tax collectors from any of her taxpayers or debtors in discharge and payment of such taxes or other dues.

The defendants to the bill, it is alleged, are officers of the state, charged severally with the collection of certain taxes and license fees and other dues to the state; and it is charged that, in pursuance of certain statutes passed since the act of March 30, 1871, and the issue of the bonds and coupons under it, they are forbidden to receive these and similar coupons in payment of taxes and other dues to the state, which statutes, it is averred, impair the obligation of the contract between the state and the holder of its coupons, and are accordingly in violation of the constitution of the United States, and are null and void; but that, nevertheless, the defendants, as officers of the

See dissenting opinion, post, 962.

state, as is publicly known, habitually refuse to accept coupons when tendered by tax-payers, in payment of taxes and other dues to the state, with the col. lection of which they are severally charged, and the general assembly of Virginia has also passed statutes repealing all laws which provided any remedy for the enforcement of the right to have them so received. The bill then proceeds as follows:

“And your petitioner furthermore shows that confiding in his right to a specific performance of said contract, and in his title to equitable relief, should the same be denied, he hath made arrangements with sundry tax-payers of Virginia to use his above coupons in payment of their taxes and license taxes, now due, by which arrangement, if the said coupons can be used without, delay or difficulty, he will receive nearly par therefor, and thus be able to have his coupons collected. • But, unless they are so accepted in payment when tendered, the said tax-payers will not use them at all, because they are compelled to pay their taxes forth with under heavy penalties, and to obtain their licenses immediately, or cease from business, so that, if the collectors of these taxes continue to refuse to accept these coupons, and so render necessary an appeal to the courts, and a separate action by each tax-payer upon each tender, such refusal will be tantamount to an utter destruction of the rights of your petitioner, because delays will thus occur which the tax-payers cannot submit to for the above-named reasons and others, and thus your petitioner will be deprived of the benefit of the arrangements he has made, as well as of all opportunity of having his coupons so used at any time save in small amounts and at rare intervals."

The prayer for relief is as follows: "In tender consideration whereof, and inasmuch as your petitioner is without adequate relief save in a court of equity, wherein such matters are properly cognizable, and inasmuch as he will suffer great and irreparable loss and damage, exceeding $500 in amount, unless relief is afforded him immediately, and the above-named officers are required to perform specifically the contract aforesaid, and receive his said coupons in payment of all or any of the dues and taxes above-named immediately upon their being tendered therefor by any tax-payer or applicant for a license, and to avoid a multiplicity of suits and prevent an obstruction of justice, he prays that Morton Marye, auditor of Virginia, Samuel C. Greenhow, A. L. IIill, and V.G. Dunnington, treasurers of the cities of Richmond, Norfolk, and Lynchburg, respectively, and R. B. Munford, Charles D. Lang. ley, and Charles W. Price, commissioners of the revenue for said cities, re. spectively, be made parties defendant hereto, with apt words to charge them, and may be required on oath to answer fully the allegations hereof. And that the said defendants, their assistants, clerks, and agents, be required and compelled to specifically perform the said coupon contract according to its iegal tenor and effect, and to accept your orator's said coupons, or any of them, from any tax-payer presenting them or any of them in payment of*his taxes, license taxes, or other dues, and to receipt therefor, or certify the payment and deposit thereof, in cases of applications for license, in precisely the same form and with precisely the same force and effect as they would do if said tender, payment, or deposit were made in money. And that your honors will decree said coupons to be genuine, legal coupons, legally receivable for all taxes, debts, and demands due the state of Virginia, and especially for all license taxes or assessments by whatever name the same may be called. And to the end that your orator may have full relief in the premises, he also prays that a preliminary restraining order and injunction may be issued without delay, enjoining and restraining the said defendants, their assistants, clerks, and agents, and each and every one of them, from refusing to accept any of the coupons named in the Exhibit A herewith, in full payment pro tanto of the taxes, license taxes, or other dues, due by any tax-payer to the state, who may tender the same in payment thereof, and enjoining and restraining them

a

from refusing to execute and deliver forth with to such tax-payer his tax-bill, duly receipted, or to an applicant for a license a certificate that the amount of coupons tendered by such applicant has been deposited with him in payment of the tax or deposit required or assessed for said license, and from refusing, immediately upon the presentation of such certificate, to grant and issue the license applied for to such applicant, all in the same manner, and to bave precisely the same force and effect as if said payments were made in coin or currency."

There is also a prayer for general relief. There was a final decree on bill, answer, replication, and proofs, granting the injunction as prayed for, and the defendants appealed. This bill is without precedent, and should have been dismissed. It is a clear case, as stated, of damnum absque injuria. So far as the contract with the complainant was, that the state should pay to him bis coupons at maturity, there is, no doubt, a breach; but he asks no relief as to that, for there is no remedy by suit to compel the state to pay its debts. So far as the contract was to receive the coupons of the complainant in payment of taxes and other dues to the state, there is no breach, for he does not allege that any of them have been tendered by any tax-payer or debtor to the state in payment of taxes or other dues; nor that there has been a refusal on the part of any tax collector, or other officer of the state charged with the col. lection and receipt of taxes and dues to the state, to receive them in payment therefor. Personally the complainant has no right to offer them for such purpose, for he owes no taxes or other debt to the state. There is nothing shown in the bill by which he is prevented from transferring them to others who would have the legal right to use them in that way, except that, being discredited for such uses by the previous refusals of the officers of the state to receive other but similar coupons, the complainant can find no one willing to purchase them from him at a reasonable price for such purposes. This dam. age is not actionable, because it is not a direct and legal consequence of a breach of the contract, and is not distinguishable from the damage any creditor might suffer from the known inability or unwillingness of his debtors to perform their obligations. Such discredit might, and often does, result in the bankruptcy and financial ruin of the creditor, but no action lies to recover damages for the consequential loss, which the law does not connect with the default, as cause and effect. To enable the complainant to avail himself of the benefit of his contract with the state, to receive his coupons in payment of taxes, he must first assign them to some one who has taxes to pay, as he has not; but when he does so, by the assignment, he has lost his interest in the contract and his right to demand its performance, all right to which he has transferred with the coupons. It is only when in the hands of tax-payers or other debtors that the coupons are receivable in payment of taxes and debts due to the state.

The bill as framed, therefore, calls for a declaration of an abstract character, that the contract set out requiring coupons to be received in payment of taxes and debts due to the state is valid; that the statutes of the general assembly of Virginia impairing its obligations are contrary to the constitution of the United States, and therefore void; and that it is the legal duty of the collecting officers of the state to receive them when offered in payment of such taxes and debts. But no court sits to determine questions of law in thesi. There must be a litigation upon actual transactions between real parties, growing out of a controversy affecting legal or equitable rights as to person or property. All questions of law arising in such cases are judicially determinable. The present is not a case of that description.

The decree of the circuit court is accordingly reversed, and the cause is remanded, with directions to dismiss the bill; and it is so ordered.

(114 U. S. 417)

Ex parte Wilson.

(Murch 30, 1885.) 1. HABEAS CORPUS-JURISDICTION OF SUPREME COURT.

This court cannot discharge on habeas corpus a person imprisoned under the sen. tence of a circuit or district court in a criminal case, unless the sentence exceeds the jurisdiction of that court, or there is no authority to hold the prisoner under

the sentence. 2. CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE PROSECUTIONS BY INDICTMENT OR INFORMATION

Rev. St. § 1022.

The provision of Rev. St. 1022, authorizing certain offenses to be prosecuted either by indictment or by information, does not preclude the prosecution by information of such other offenses as may be so prosecuted consistently with the con

stitution and laws of the United States. 3. SAME-CONVICTION-SENTENCE-RECORD.

In the record of a general conviction and sentence upon two counts, one of which is good, a misrecital of the verdict as upon the other count only, in stating the in. quiry whether the convict had aught to say why sentence should not be pronounced

against him, is no ground for discharging him on habeas corpus. 4. SAME-COMMITMENT TO PRISON IN STATE OTHER THAN WHERE CONVICTED— HABEAS CORPUS.

In the record of a judgment of a district court, sentencing a person convicted in one state to imprisonment in a prison in another state, the onission to state that on there was no suitable prison in the state in which he was convicted, and that the attorney general had designated the prison in the other state as a suitable place of

imprisonment, is no ground for discharging the prisoner on habeas corpus. 6. SAME-CERTIFIED COPY OF RECORD OF SENTENCE.

A certified copy of the record of a sentence to imprisonment is sofficient to au

thorize the detention of the prisoner, without any warrant or mittimus. 6. SAME-PRESENTMENT OR INDICTMENT BY GRAND JURY-Firth AMENDMENT.

A person sentenced to imprisonment for an infamous crime, without having been presented or indicted by a grand jury, as required by the fifth amendment of the

constitution, is entitled to be discharged on habeas corpus. 7. SAME-INFamous CRIME.

A crime punishable by imprisonment for a term of years at hard labor is an infanious crime, within the provision of the fifth amendment of the constitution, that “no person shall be held to answer for & capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.” Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, presented to this court by a man confined in the house of correction at Detroit, in the state of Michigan, under a sentence to be imprisoned there for 15 years at hard labor, passed by the district court of the United States for the Eastern district of Arkansas, upon an information filed by the district attorney for that district. The record of the conviction and sentence, a copy of which was annexed to the petition, showed the following case:

The information, which was filed by leave of the court, contained two counts: The first count upon Rev. St. § 5430, for unlawfully having in possession, with intent to sell, an obligation engraved and printed after the similitude of securities issued under authority of the United States, to-wit, of an interest-bearing coupon bond of the United States; and the second count upon section 5431, for passing, with intent to defraud, a counterfeited interest-bearing coupon bond of the United States; and each count alleging that the bond was in the words and figures of a copy attached to the indictment and made part thereof. That copy was of an instrument purporting to be a bond of the United States Silver Mining Company of Denver city, Colorado, having printed at its head the words “THE UNITED STATES,” in large and con. spicuous capitals, followed on a lower line by the words “SILVER MINING COMPANY OF DENVER CITY, COLORADO," in much smaller and less distinct type, and bearing the signatures of “R. E. HULLSON, Pres't,” and “J. H. MAY:

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »