Louisiana v. New Orleans
102 U.S. 203 (1880)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Louisiana v. New Orleans, 102 U.S. 203 (1880)

Louisiana v. New Orleans

102 U.S. 203

Syllabus

1. The obligation of contracts is impaired by such legislation as lessens the efficacy of the remedy which the law in force at the time they were made provided for enforcing them.

2. A. recovered judgment, in 1874, against New Orleans, upon certain bonds issued by the city in 1854, and sued out an execution, which was returned nulla bona. The Act No. 5 of the Legislature of Louisiana of 1870 requires that a plaintiff having an executory judgment against the city must file a certified copy thereof in the office of the controller, and imposes upon the latter the duty of causing the same to be registered and of issuing a warrant upon the treasurer for the amount due thereon, without any specific appropriation therefor, &c. Held that so much of said act as requires such filing and registration before A. can procure a warrant in his favor for the amount due or resort to other means to enforce the payment thereof does not render less effective his preexisting remedies, and is therefore not in conflict with the contract clause of the Constitution.

Morris Ranger recovered, May 1, 1874, against the City of New Orleans certain judgments. To enforce the collection

Page 102 U. S. 204

of them, he instituted, June 21, 1879, this proceeding, in the name of the state on his relation in the Third District Court of the Parish of Orleans, for a peremptory mandamus to compel the mayor and administrators of the city to levy and collect a special tax sufficient in amount to satisfy the judgments.

The following statement of facts signed by the attorneys for the respective parties was filed:

"1st, that the judgments which are made the basis of this mandamus proceeding were rendered for the amounts -- principal, interest, and costs -- and at the dates stated in the petition, and had for their basis bonds issued by the City of New Orleans in 1854, to the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad Company, and New Orleans, Opelousas, and Great Western Railroad Company."

"2d, that writs of fieri facias were issued on said judgments, and after demand made upon the city were returned nulla bona, and that the city has no property liable to seizure and sale."

"3d, that said judgments have never been registered in accordance with the provisions of the act of 1870."

"It is further agreed that this statement of facts is made in lieu of the note of evidence taken at the trial, which has been mislaid."

The remaining facts and the statute bearing upon the case are set forth in the opinion of the Court.

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