Hilborn v. United States - 163 U.S. 342 (1896)
U.S. Supreme Court
Hilborn v. United States, 163 U.S. 342 (1896)
Hilborn v. United States
Submitted May 1, 1896
Decided May 18, 1896
163 U.S. 342
Fees allowed by the court to the district attorney for his services in defending habeas corpus cases, brought to release from the custody of masters of vessels Chinese emigrants whom the collector of the port had ordered detained, should be accounted for by him in the returns made by him to the government of the fees and emoluments of his office.
It would require a strong case to show that services for which the district attorney is entitled to charge the government a fee are not also services for the earnings of which he should make return to the government in his emolument account.
This was a petition by the District Attorney for the District of California for certain fees for services rendered by direction of the Attorney General in connection with various habeas corpus cases of Chinamen desiring to enter this country, the total amount of disallowances in this connection being in the vicinity of $7,000. Defendants filed a counterclaim for moneys claimed to be erroneously and illegally allowed and paid by the accounting officers of the Treasury Department in the sum of $930 in excess of the fees and compensation prescribed by law.
In this connection, the Court of Claims made a finding of facts to the effect that the claimant appeared and resisted certain proceedings in cases prosecuted in the proper court of the United States wherein writs of habeas corpus had been issued on behalf of subjects of the emperor of China, to masters of certain vessels arriving at the port of San Francisco, by whom persons were detained by order of the collector of said port, acting under color of the authority of the Act of Congress of May 6, 1882, c. 126, 22 Stat. 58, and of July 5, 1884, c. 220, 23 Stat. 115. Judgment was rendered without a jury in each case. For these services the judge, upon approving claimant's accounts under the Act of February 22, 1875, taxed and allowed him an assimilated fee of $10 in each case, certified it to be a just and reasonable compensation and that it had been assimilated to such fee as is prescribed by section 824 of the Revised Statutes for similar services in cases in which the United States are a party, and where judgment is rendered without a jury.
The case involved several other points not questioned upon this appeal, and resulted in a judgment in favor of the petitioner for $594.60, and a dismissal of the counterclaim. From this judgment petitioner appealed, assigning as error that the Court of Claims erred in holding that the assimilated fees earned by him in resisting the habeas corpus proceedings were to be included in his emolument return or counted in making up his maximum compensation, and that the judgment of the court should have been for the sum of $8,230.