United States v. Abatoir Place - 106 U.S. 160 (1882)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Abatoir Place, 106 U.S. 160 (1882)

United States v. Abatoir Place

Decided November 20, 1882

106 U.S. 160

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Syllabus

Where an information against a distillery for an alleged violation of the revenue laws was filed, and the district court, after rendering judgment in favor of the claimant, denied the motion of the United States that a certificate of reasonable cause of seizure be entered of record, held that the action on the motion cannot be reviewed here or in the circuit court.

This was an information filed in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York against a distillery, claiming that it was forfeited to the United States for violation of the revenue laws.

Frederick Frerichs appeared as the claimant and denied the forfeiture. Upon the trial, the district court, being of opinion that there was no evidence of any violation of the revenue laws, for which the seizure had been made, directed a verdict for him, and judgment was rendered thereon in his favor.

Thereupon the United States moved the court to enter of

Page 106 U. S. 161

record a certificate that there was a reasonable cause of seizure. The motion was denied. The case was then carried, by writ of error, to the circuit court, which adjudged that there was no error in the record. To reverse this latter judgment this writ of error is prosecuted. The only question raised in this Court is whether the district court erred in refusing to enter the certificate of reasonable cause.

The following sections of the Revised Statutes of the United States are pertinent to the controversy in this case:

"SEC. 909. In suits or informations brought where any seizure is made pursuant to any act providing for or regulating the collection of duties on imports or tonnage, if the property is claimed by any person, the burden of proof shall lie upon such claimant, provided that probable cause is shown for such prosecution, to be judged of by the court."

"SEC. 970. When, in any prosecution commenced on account of the seizure of any vessel, goods, wares, or merchandise made by any collector or other officer under any act of Congress authorizing such seizure, judgment is rendered for the claimant, but it appears to the court that there was a reasonable cause of seizure, the court shall cause a proper certificate thereof to be entered, and the claimant shall not in such case be entitled to costs, nor shall the person who made the seizure nor the prosecutor be liable to suit or judgment on account of such suit or prosecution, provided that the vessel, goods, wares, or merchandise be, after judgment, forthwith returned to such claimant or his agent."

MR. JUSTICE WOODS, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the Court.

We are of opinion that the refusal of the district court to grant a certificate of reasonable cause is not a matter which can be reviewed in the circuit court or in this Court. It is only from final judgments that a writ of error lies from the district to the circuit court or from the latter court to the Supreme Court.

The granting or the refusal to grant the certificate is not a final judgment in the sense of the statute which allows writs of

Page 106 U. S. 162

error. The certificate, when granted, is no part of the original case. It is a collateral matter which arises after final judgment.

It is granted to protect the person at whose instance the seizure was made, should an action of trespass be brought against him by the claimant for the wrongful seizure of the latter's property. The granting of the certificate of reasonable cause is therefore only antecedent and ancillary to another suit, and is not a final judgment in the case in which it is given. It is not final or effectual for any purpose unless certain facts subsequent to the judgment are shown -- namely the immediate return to the claimant or his agent of the property seized in the original suit.

This Court has decided that a refusal to enter an exoneratur on a bail bond, that judgments awarding or refusing to award or setting aside writs of restitution in actions of ejectment, that a judgment on a writ of error coram nobis, that a judgment refusing a writ of venditioni exponas, that a refusal to quash an execution or to quash a forthcoming bond, were not final judgments to which a writ of error would lie. Boyle v. Zacharie, 6 Pet. 635; Pickett's Heirs v. Legerwood, 7 Pet. 144; Smith v. Trabue, 9 Pet. 4; Evans v. Gee, 14 Pet. 1; Amis v. Smith, 16 Pet. 303; Morsell v. Hall, 13 How. 212; McCargo v. Chapman, 20 How. 555; Gregg v. Forsyth, 2 Wall. 56; Barton v. Forsyth, 5 Wall. 190. See also Barker Hollier, 8 Mee. & W. 513.

These authorities lead to the opinion we have expressed in this case.

Judgment affirmed.



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