Macfarland v. Brown - 187 U.S. 239 (1902)
U.S. Supreme Court
Macfarland v. Brown, 187 U.S. 239 (1902)
Macfarland v. Brown
Argued November 6, 1902
Decided December 1, 1902
187 U.S. 239
A judgment or decree, to be final within the meaning of that term as used in the acts of Congress giving this Court jurisdiction on appeals and writs of error, must terminate the litigation between the parties on the merits of the case, so that, if there should be an affirmance here, the court below would have nothing to do but to execute the judgment or decree it had already rendered. Bostwick v. Brinkerhoff, 108 U. S. 3, followed.
When, therefore, the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia reverses an order of the Supreme Court of the District in proceedings for the condemnation
of land under the act of Congress of March 3, 1899, 30 Stat. 1381, and remands the case to the lower court for further proceedings as directed by the statute, the decree of the Court of Appeals is not such a final judgment as is reviewable in this Court, and an appeal therefrom will be dismissed. See also Macfarland v. Byrnes, decided this term, p. 187 U. S. 248, post.
Under the act of Congress entitled "An Act for the Extension of Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, and for Other Purposes," approved March 3, 1899, 30 Stat. 1381, c. 461, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia were, by the terms of section 5 of said act
"authorized and directed to institute by a petition in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, sitting as a district court, a proceeding to condemn the land necessary for the extension and widening of Sherman Avenue from Florida Avenue to Whitney Avenue with the uniform width of one hundred feet."
The provisions of said section 5 are as follows:
"SEC. 5. That, within ninety days after the approval of this act, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia be, and they are hereby, authorized and directed to institute by a petition in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, sitting as a district court, a proceeding to condemn the land necessary for the extension and widening of Sherman Avenue from Florida Avenue to Whitney Avenue with the uniform width of one hundred feet."
"That, of the amount found due and awarded for damages for and in respect of the land condemned under this act for the extension and widening of said Sherman Avenue, not less than one-half thereof shall be assessed by said jury in said proceedings against those pieces or parcels of ground abutting on both sides of Sherman Avenue, and the extension thereof as herein provided, to a distance of three hundred feet from the building lines, on the east and west sides of Sherman Avenue as widened and extended: Provided, That no assessment shall be made against those pieces or parcels of ground out of which land has already been dedicated to the District of Columbia for the purpose of widening Sherman Avenue as herein provided for."
Under the authority thereby conferred, a petition was filed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia in the Supreme
Court of the District of Columbia, sitting as a district court, upon the 31st day of May, 1899, being No. 555 on the district court docket, praying that the court direct the marshal of the District of Columbia to summon a jury of seven judicious, disinterested men, not related to any party interested, to be and appear on the premises on a day specified, to assess the damages, if any, which each owner of land through which Sherman Avenue is proposed to be extended and widened as aforesaid may sustain by reason thereof, and that such other and further orders might be made and proceedings had as were contemplated by said act of Congress and by chapter XI of the Revised Statutes of the United States relating to the District of Columbia, to the end that a permanent right of way for the public over the said lands might be obtained and secured for the aforesaid extension and widening of Sherman Avenue.
Upon this petition, the said court, on the 16th day of September, 1899, passed an order requiring interested parties to appear in said court on or before the second day of October, 1899, and show cause why the prayer of said petition should not be granted, and why the proceedings directed in said act of Congress should not be taken. Pursuant to such order, the jury was summoned and impaneled by the marshal, and upon the 7th day of February, 1900, were sworn according to law, and thereafter the said jury proceeded according to the provisions of chapter XI of the Revised Statutes of the United States relating to the District of Columbia, and having been upon the premises, in accordance with said statute, on the 1st day of May, A.D. 1900, made out their written verdict, which was signed by a majority of the said jurors. Upon the 9th day of May, 1900, the same was filed in the said court under the Act of March 3, 1899.
Thereafter, on the 3d day of July, 1901, the trial court passed an order nisi confirming said verdict, and requiring all parties to appear and show cause on or before July 22 why such verdict should not be finally confirmed by the court. Upon July 22, 1901, the appellees, in response to said order, filed their exceptions to said verdict.
The court, having heard arguments upon the said exceptions,
on October 2, 1901, passed an order overruling the said exceptions and finally ratifying and confirming in all respects the said verdict.
Thereupon the appellees appealed the case to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, from which decision the Commissioners of the District of Columbia have appealed to this Court.