Buel v. Van Ness
21 U.S. 312

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U.S. Supreme Court

Buel v. Van Ness, 21 U.S. 8 Wheat. 312 312 (1823)

Buel v. Van Ness

21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 312

Syllabus

The appellate jurisdiction of this Court, under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20, may be exercised by a writ of error issued by the clerk of a circuit court under the seal of that court in the form prescribed by the Act of 8 May, 1792, c. 137, s. 9, and the writ itself need not state that it is directed to a final judgment by the state court, or that the court is the highest court of law or equity of the state.

The appellate jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought from the state courts, arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the union is not limited by the value of the matter in dispute.

Its jurisdiction in such cases extends to a case where both parties claim a right or title under the same act of Congress and the decision is against the right or title claimed by either party,

Under the ninety-first section of the Duty Act of 1799, c. 128, the share of a forfeiture to which the collector, &c., of the district is entitled is to be paid to the person who was he collector, &c., in office at the time the seizure was made, and not to his successor in office at the time of condemnation and the receipt of the money.

Page 21 U. S. 313

The plaintiff in error, Buel, brought an action of assumpsit against the defendant in error, Van Ness, in the state court. The declaration was for money had and received, and money lent and advanced, to which defendant pleaded the general issue, and upon the trial the jury found the following special verdict:

"That for the space of two years preceding the fifteenth day of February, in the year 1813, the said Samuel Buel was collector of the customs for the District of Vermont, having been theretofore duly appointed and commissioned by the President of the United States to that office, and sworn according to law, and taken upon himself the discharge of the duties of the office aforesaid; that during the time the said Buel was collector of the customs aforesaid, a certain quantity of fur and wine was seized in the said district, by one Joshua Peckham, an inspector of the customs within the said district, acting under the authority of the said Buel, as collector as aforesaid, as forfeited to the United States, for having been imported contrary to law; that the

Page 21 U. S. 314

said fur and wine, during the time the said Buel was collector as aforesaid, were duly libeled in the District Court of the United States for the District of Vermont; that at the term of said court, in which the said fur and wine were libeled, as aforesaid, one Zalmon Atwood preferred his claim to the said fur and wine, in due form, in the said court, and then and there executed to the said United States, a bond in the sum of $1,202.64, being the value of the said fur and wine, as appraised according to law, and conditioned for the payment of the said sum to the United States, in case the said fur and wine should be condemned; that afterwards, and while the said Buel was collector as aforesaid, to-wit, at the term of the said court holden at Rutland, within and for said district, on the tenth day of October, in the year 1812, such proceedings were had on said libel, that the said fur and wine were regularly condemned as forfeited to the United States; that on the said fifteenth day of February, in the year 1813, the said Samuel Buel was, by the President of the United States, removed from the said office of Collector for the District of Vermont; that on the same day, the said Cornelius P. Van Ness was duly appointed to the said office, and"

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commissioned and sworn accordingly, and still continues to hold said office; that on the tenth day of May in the year 1813, the said sum of $1,202.64 was paid into court, in discharge of the said bond, into the hands of Jesse Gore, Esquire, clerk of the said court; that on the same day, the said sum of money was,

Page 21 U. S. 315

by the said Jesse Gore, paid into the hands of the said Cornelius P. Van Ness, Esquire, collector as aforesaid, to be by him distributed according to the laws of the United States; that the said Cornelius P. Van Ness, on the first day of July in the year last aforesaid, paid into the Treasury of the United States one moiety of the said sum of $1,202.64, and that the said Cornelius P. Van Ness retains the remainder of the said sum as belonging to him as collector as aforesaid, and to the inspector who seized the said goods, and to the person who first informed of the said offense, notwithstanding the said Buel, before the commencement of the said action, to-wit, on the fifth day of June, 1813, at Burlington aforesaid, did demand the same of the said Van Ness. And if upon the whole matter aforesaid, by the jurors aforesaid, in form aforesaid found, it shall seem to the court here that the said Cornelius P. Van Ness is liable in law for the nonperformance of the promises in said declaration contained, in manner and form as the said Samuel Buel complains against him, then the said jurors further upon their oath say that the said Cornelius did assume and promise, in manner and form as the said plaintiff, in his said declaration hath alleged, and they assess the damages of him, the said Samuel, by the occasion of the nonperformance of the said promises and undertakings, at the sum of $672.47, and find for him to recover the said sum, with his costs; but if upon the whole matters aforesaid, by the jurors aforesaid, in form aforesaid found,

Page 21 U. S. 316

it shall seem to the court here that the said Cornelius P. Van Ness is not liable in law in manner and form as the said Samuel complains against him, then the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath say, that the said Cornelius P. Van Ness did not assume and promise in manner and form as the said Samuel hath alleged against him, and find for him to recover his costs.

Upon which, judgment was rendered by the state court for the defendant; and the cause was brought by writ of error to this Court. The writ of error was issued by the clerk of the Circuit Court of Vermont, under the seal of that court, and in the usual form of writs of error to the judgments of the circuit courts of the United States.

Page 21 U. S. 319

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