Sherman v. United States
155 U.S. 673 (1895)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sherman v. United States, 155 U.S. 673 (1895)

Sherman v. United States

No. 664

Submitted December 13, 1894

Decided January 14, 1895

155 U.S. 673

Syllabus

A chief supervisor of elections, appointed under the provision of Rev.Stat. § 2025, is not required by law to make copies of the lists of registered voters returned to him, nor to arrange them in alphabetical order after filing them, and is not authorized to charge the United States for such services voluntarily performed.

Page 155 U. S. 674

This was a petition of the chief supervisor of elections for the Northern District of Illinois, for

"services rendered as such chief supervisor in entering and indexing the records of his office, to-wit, the records of the names of persons who registered and voted at the election held in the City of Chicago, City of Lake View, Town of Lake, and Village of Hyde Park, in November, 1888, at which election representatives to Congress were voted for, 61,482 folios at 15 cents per folio, amounting to $9,222.30,"

and for disbursements made in connection therewith amounting to $210.35.

The Court of Claims, upon the evidence, found the facts to be as follows:

1. Claimant, Elijah B. Sherman, has been a commissioner of the United States and chief supervisor of elections for the Northern District of Illinois since the year 1884, duly qualified, and is still acting as such.

2. In connection with the congressional election of 1888, he performed the duties of chief supervisor of elections under the provisions of title 26 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, known as "The Elective Franchise," in addition to the duties of circuit court commissioner.

3. On or about the 25th day of July, 1892, the claimant made and duly verified an account for certain services and disbursements as chief supervisor of elections in connection with the congressional election of 1888, to-wit, for entering and indexing the records of persons registered and of voters, being the records of the chief supervisor's offices, 61,482 folios at 15 cents per folio, $9,222.30, and for disbursements amounting to $210.35.

4. Said account was duly presented in open court in the circuit court of the United States for said district in the presence of the district attorney of the United States for said district. Said court entered an order finding that said account was correct as to the number of folios embraced therein, and that the item for stationery and supplies necessarily used in making said record was correct, but declining to approve said account or certify the correctness thereof, for the reason that said circuit judge thought the statute did not authorize the work charged for by the chief supervisor.

Page 155 U. S. 675

5. No part of the work done, disbursements made, or services referred to and charged for in the aforesaid account has been included in, covered by, or embraced in any account made or presented to the accounting officers of the Treasury, or any other department or office of the United States, other than the account sued upon herein, and no payment has been made for any item charged therein, and all of said service was performed within six years before the commencement of this suit.

6. Said account was presented to the accounting officers of the United States Treasury Department for payment, and payment thereof was refused. Thereupon the first auditor of the Treasury, on the ground that said claim involved a controverted question of law, certified said claim to the honorable Secretary of the Treasury, and transmitted the same to him, together with all the vouchers, papers, documents, and proofs pertaining thereto, that the same might be transmitted to the Court of Claims, as provided in § 1063, Rev.Stat., and thereupon the honorable acting Secretary of the Treasury transmitted to this Court the claim of petitioner, with all vouchers, papers, proofs, and documents pertaining thereto, to be proceeded with in this Court according to law.

7. The claimant, as chief supervisor of elections, required of supervisors of elections lists of the persons who registered and voted in their respective election districts or voting precincts at said election held in November, 1888. Such lists, when made, were returned to and filed by him, and became a part of the records of his office. Said lists were necessary for properly guarding and scrutinizing said election, and the registration prior thereto.

8. The nature of the services described in the account in suit was the entering and indexing of the records of persons who registered for the purpose of voting at the election for representatives in Congress held in November, 1888, in the City of Chicago, City of Lake View, village of Hyde Park, and Town of Lake, in said Northern District of Illinois, and said index record contained the particulars relative to each voter then required by the laws of the State of Illinois, and

Page 155 U. S. 676

as shown in Exhibit A. The matter contained in said index record was contained in the registers or lists made by supervisors of election, and returned to claimant as chief supervisor of elections, and which became part of the records of his office.

9. The disbursements charged for are for large index volumes for entering and indexing the records of the claimant's office, and for stationery and supplies necessarily used in and about the entering and indexing of said records, amounting to $210.35.

10. Before the services now sued for were performed, the claimant made out and presented his account as chief supervisor of elections for services rendered at the congressional election of 1888, in which account, and while it was in the possession of the first Comptroller, and before it was approved by him, the claimant endorsed the following words:

"The foregoing account and claim against the government is presented without prejudice to my right to present hereafter a further account and claim for the services in entering and indexing the records of my said office touching the said election of 1888, and the registration prior thereto, and for any other services rendered by me in connection with said election, which is not included in the foregoing account, and without prejudice to the right to sue therefor."

The index so prepared of the election of 1888 was not in fact made until after the congressional election of 1890. It was used by the claimant in the election of 1892, but to what extent does not appear. The similar index of the election returns of the election of 1890 was made out before the election of 1892, and was used in that election, and has been paid for.

On the foregoing findings of fact, the court decided as a conclusion of law:

"The services which form the cause of action in this suit not having been rendered at the proper time, to-wit, before the congressional election of 1890, and the defendants having therefore derived no benefit from them in that election, they must be deemed voluntary, and for them the claimant should not recover. Petition dismissed. "

Page 155 U. S. 677

Petitioner thereupon appealed to this Court.

Page 155 U. S. 680

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