Dennison v. United StatesAnnotate this Case
168 U.S. 241 (1897)
U.S. Supreme Court
Dennison v. United States, 168 U.S. 241 (1897)
Dennison v. United States
Argued and submitted November 2, 1897
Decided November 29, 1897
168 U.S. 241
APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS
To entitle a supervisor of elections to a valid claim against the government, he must make it appear that the services performed were required by the letter of Rev.Stat. § 2020 and § 2026, or were such as were actually and necessarily performed in the proper execution of the duties therein prescribed, and that his charges therefor are covered by Rev.Stat. § 2031, or, if not fixed in the very words of that section, that, by analogy to some other service, he is entitled to make a corresponding charge.
If the services were only performed for his own convenience, or were manifestly unnecessary or useless, even if they be such as he judges proper himself, they cannot be made the basis of a claim against the government.
It is held that the applicant, a Chief Supervisor, should have been allowed for drawing instructions to supervisors, and, in the absence of proof to the contrary, for the full amount of his claim for auditing claims of and drawing payrolls of supervisors, and certifying the same to the marshal, and all the other claims, enumerated in the opinion of the court, are disallowed.
The ruling in Cromwell v. Sac County,94 U. S. 351, that when a second action between the same parties is upon a different claim or demand, the judgment in the prior action operates as an estoppel only as to those matters in issue or points controverted, upon the determination of which the finding or verdict was rendered, affirmed and applied.
This was a petition by the Chief Supervisor for the Northern District of New York for fees and disbursements connected with the general election of 1890, amounting to $16,612.79, of which $2,752.60 were disallowed by the Treasury Department; for like fees and disbursements connected with the general
election of 1892, amounting to $18,998.94, of which $2,581.75 were disallowed, and also for fees connected with the examination of witnesses to show that certain supervisors, who had been appointed in the City of Troy to attend a congressional election in 1888, had been deterred from discharging their duties by violence, or threats of violence, by disorderly persons. This account amounted to $624.65, of which $402.65 were disallowed.
The petition alleged that all these accounts had been approved and allowed by the district court.
Upon a finding of facts which do not differ materially from those set up in the petition, the Court of Claims directed a judgment in favor of the petitioner for $678.10, whereupon petitioner appealed to this Court.
MR. JUSTICE BROWN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the Court.
The duties of Chief Supervisors are prescribed by statute. Rev.Stat. §§ 2020, 2026. Their fees are also fixed by statute. § 2031. To entitle a supervisor to a valid claim against the government, he must make it appear that the services performed were required by the letter of the former sections, or were such as were actually and necessarily performed in the proper execution of the duties therein prescribed. It must also appear that his charges therefor are covered by the latter section, or, if they are not fixed in the very words of that section, that, by analogy to some other service, he is entitled to make a corresponding charge. If the services are only performed for his own convenience, or are manifestly unnecessary or useless -- even if they be such as he judges proper himself -- they cannot be made the basis of a claim against the government.
The petitioner in this case made a claim for his services in the general elections of 1890 and 1892 in the aggregate sum of $35,611.73, of which but $4,265.13 appear to have been for disbursements. Of this very large amount there was disallowed but $5,334.35, an amount which was further reduced by the judgment in his favor of $678.10 to $4,656.25, which is the amount in dispute here.
If the petitioner be entitled by law to the further sum claimed for what are in the main clerical services, he must receive judgment for them; but, as the dates of the approval of his accounts show that his services did not extend over a period of more than six months, he has at least no reason to complain of the illiberality of the government.
The approval of the district court goes only to the facts that the services were rendered as stated in the accounts, and that, in certain matters of discretion, the discretion was properly exercised. United States v. Jones,134 U. S. 483; United States v. Barber,140 U. S. 177, 140 U. S. 179. Neither of these cases requires the allowance of charges obviously unnecessary.
The items disallowed by the court below will be considered in their order:
1. -- Item 4. Drawing instructions to supervisors, relative to their duties, 106 folios at 15 cents a folio, $15.90. As this charge was expressly allowed in United States v. McDermott,140 U. S. 151, 140 U. S. 154,
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