Sneed v. Wister
21 U.S. 690

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sneed v. Wister, 21 U.S. 8 Wheat. 690 690 (1823)

Sneed v. Wister

21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 690

Syllabus

The Act of Assembly of Kentucky, of 7 February 1812, giving interest on judgments for damages in certain cases, applies as well to cases depending in the circuit courts of the United States as to proceedings in similar cases in the state courts.

The party is as well entitled to interest in an action on an appeal bond as if he were to proceed on the judgment if the judgment be on a contract for the payment of money. He is entitled to interest from the rendition of the original judgment.

A decree of the highest court of equity of a state affirming the decretal order of an inferior court of equity of the same state, refusing to dissolve an injunction granted on the filing of the bill, is not a final decree within the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789, ch. 20, from which an appeal lies to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In general, judgments and decrees are evidence only in suits between parties and privies, but the doctrine is wholly inapplicable to a case like the present, where the decree is in equity.

Oyer is not demandable of a record, nor in an action upon a bond for performance of covenants in another deed can oyer of such deed be craved, for the defendant, and not the plaintiff, must show it with a profert of it or an excuse for the omission.

If oyer be improperly demanded, the defect is aided on a general demurrer, but it is fatal to the plea, where it is set down as a cause of demurrer.

Nil debet is an improper plea to an action of debt upon a specialty or deed where it is the foundation of the action.

Page 21 U. S. 691

This was an action of debt, brought in the circuit court for the District of Kentucky, by the defendants in error against the plaintiffs upon a bond in the penalty of $4.000 with condition that the said A. Sneed should prosecute with effect his appeal from a judgment of the Franklin Circuit Court, pronounced in a suit wherein the said Wister and others were plaintiffs, and the said A. Sneed was defendant, and should well and truly pay to the said obligees all such damages and costs as should be awarded against him, in case the said judgment should be affirmed in whole or in part, or the appeal should be dismissed or discontinued.

The averments in the declaration are that the said A. Sneed did not prosecute his said appeal with effect, but that afterwards, at a certain term of the court of appeals, the said judgment was affirmed and judgment rendered in favor of the said plaintiffs against the said defendant, A. Sneed, for damages at the rate of ten percent on the amount of the said judgment, to-wit, on the sum of $1,895.13 1/2, as by the records of the said court of appeals would

Page 21 U. S. 692

appear. And further that the said judgment, rendered by the said Franklin Circuit Court, was for $1,895.13 1/2 damages, and $____ costs, as would appear by the records of the said court. The declaration then avers that the said A. Sneed hath not paid to the said plaintiffs the said damages and costs aforesaid, or either of them, whereby action accrued.

To this declaration the defendants, after demanding oyer of the bond and condition thereof in the declaration mentioned, and also of the judgment of the court of appeals, therein proffered, pleads in bar of the action:

1. That by the judgment and mandate of the said court of appeals, the said cause was remanded to the Circuit Court of Franklin, where the judgment of the said court of appeals, according to the mandate, was entered up as the judgment of the said court of Franklin, and that after the said judgment was so entered, viz., on 19 August, 1820, in the clerk's office of the said court, the said A. Sneed, according to the laws of Kentucky, did replevy the said sum in the declaration mentioned by acknowledging recognizances, called replevin bonds, before the said clerk, together with Landon Sneed his surety in said recognizances for the said sums of money, damages and costs, in the declaration mentioned, to be paid in one year from the date thereof; the said clerk having lawful authority to take said replevin bonds, having by law the force of judgments, and then remaining in the said court in full force, not quashed, &c.

2. The second plea is nil debet.

Page 21 U. S. 693

To these pleas the plaintiffs demurred, and assigned for cause of demurrer, to the first that it contains a prayer of oyer of records, of which profert was not made, and of which the defendants had no right to oyer, and further that the said plea is defective in not setting forth where the replevin bond pleaded was executed, that the court might judge whether there was any authority to take it.

The demurrers being joined, the court below gave judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded a writ of inquiry to assess the damages to which they were entitled. On this inquiry, the defendants' counsel moved the court to instruct the jury 1. that the damages of 10 percent on affirmance cannot be given, because not within the breaches assigned; and 2. that they ought not to allow interest on the damages in the original judgment for any period before affirmance.

These instructions the court refused to give, but did, upon the motion of the counsel for the plaintiffs, instruct the jury that the Act of Assembly of Kentucky of 7 February, 1812, "giving interest on judgments for damages in certain cases," applies to cases depending in this Court in actions on appeal bonds, as much as to proceedings in similar cases in the state courts. That the party is as well entitled to interest in an action on the appeal bond as if he were to proceed on the judgment at law, and that, by law, the plaintiff is entitled to interest on the amount of his judgment from the time it was rendered in the Franklin circuit court.

Page 21 U. S. 694

Judgment being rendered in favor of the plaintiffs below for the damages assessed by the jury, a writ of error was sued out by the defendants and the cause brought before this Court for revision.

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