Boyce's Executors v. Grundy
34 U.S. 275 (1835)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Boyce's Executors v. Grundy, 34 U.S. 9 Pet. 275 275 (1835)

Boyce's Executors v. Grundy

34 U.S. (9 Pet.) 275

Syllabus

On the hearing of the case of Boyce's Executors v. Grundy, at January term, 1830, on an appeal from the decree of the Circuit Court of West Tennessee, 3 Pet. 210, the decree of the circuit court was affirmed, by which, after decreeing a rescission of a contract made between Felix Grundy and James Boyce, the intestate, for the purchase by the former from the letter of a tract of land lying in the State of Mississippi; the Court also decreed, that Robert Boyce, the administrator of James Boyce, of the goods, &c., of James Boyce, deceased, do pay the sum of two thousand and sixty-five dollars and twenty-one cents, to be levied on the goods of the said James Boyce in his hands to be administered, and execution issue therefor as at law. In this decree nothing was said as to any allowance of damages or interest. A mandate was issued in the usual form to the circuit court to carry the same into effect. On filing the mandate in the circuit court in 1830, the cause was referred to the clerk, as master, to take an account of the assets of James Boyce in the hands of the administrator, who reported that no assets appeared in the hands of the administrator, but that Robert Boyce had, under an agreement with the appellee, received for rents of the land in Mississippi, before 1 January, 1824, two thousand one hundred dollars, which, with interest thereon, one thousand one hundred and twenty dollars, to 1 September, 1830, would amount to three thousand two hundred and twenty dollars, and that the land in Mississippi was devised by James Boyce, the intestate, to his son Robert Boyce. The report was confirmed except as to the one thousand one hundred and twenty dollars interest. The circuit court decreed that the plaintiff recover of Robert Boyce two thousand one hundred dollars, with interest from the decree, to be levied of his proper goods and chattels, and for the balance due the plaintiff, four hundred and ninety-six dollars and forty-six cents, with interest, in case the same was not paid by him, the plaintiff had, for the whole amount of the decree, a lien on the lands in the State of Mississippi, and that the same should be sold to satisfy the same by the clerk of the court, acting as a commissioner.

Held that if the sum of two thousand one hundred dollars, the rents of the lands in Mississippi, came into the hands of Robert Boyce, as assets of the estate of James Boyce, no decree could be had against him in his individual capacity in this case. The rents, under the agreement, upon the rescission of the contract for the sale of the land, became virtually the money of James Boyce, the intestate, and were assets in the hands of his administrator. The decree should have been rendered against the defendant in the circuit court as administrator, and not individually. Also held that no lien upon the land in Mississippi exists under the decree of the Circuit Court of Tennessee, and that court had no jurisdiction to decree a sale to be made of land lying in another state. Also held that the decree is erroneous in allowing interest on the original sum decreed in the circuit court, viz. two thousand and sixty-five dollars and twenty-one cents, in 1826 (understood to be the sum of four hundred and ninety-six dollars and forty-six cents) to the affirmance of that decree in the Supreme Court in 1830.

It is solely for the decision of the Supreme Court whether any damages, or interest (as a part thereof) are to be allowed or not in cases of affirmance.

Page 34 U. S. 276

If, upon affirmance, no allowance of interest or damages is made, it is equivalent to a denial of any interest or damages.

At January term, 1830, this case was before the Court on an appeal by the same appellants, and a decree was rendered in favor of the appellee. 28 U. S. 3 Pet. 210.

The appellee in that case had filed in the circuit court a bill for the rescission of a contract entered into by him with the appellant's testator, James Boyce, for the purchase of a quantity of land in the State of Mississippi, and upon which contract the two first installments, payable by the same, being due and unpaid, a suit had been instituted and a judgment for the amount obtained. The bill also prayed an injunction against the judgment.

The circuit court decreed that the contract should be rescinded, and ordered a perpetual injunction of proceedings on the judgment, and the following mandate was issued from this Court on the affirmance of the decree of the circuit court.

"The President of the United States of America, to the Honorable the Judges of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of west Tennessee, greeting: "

"Whereas lately, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of west Tennessee, before you or some of you, in a cause wherein Felix Grundy was complainant and Robert Boyce and Richard Boyce, executors of James Boyce deceased, were defendants in chancery, the decree of the said circuit court was in the following words, viz."

" His honor does order, adjudge and decree that said contract or agreement between James Boyce, now deceased and complainant, be in all things rescinded and annulled, and because it appears from the evidence that complainant has never received any part of the rents for the plantation, but that an arrangement between him and Robert Boyce, authorized him (R. Boyce) to sue Reed, the complainant's tenant, in complainant's name, for Boyce's benefit, for the rents of 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822 and 1823, that he did so and recovered therefor, and got the same, and that complainant did, by his agent, Harry L. Douglas Esq., notify defendants to take possession of said land and

Page 34 U. S. 277

plantation, as he would not retain the same on account of the fraud aforesaid; it also appearing from the records of this Court that this bill was filed on the ___ day of ___, 1823; that at the June term of this Court, 1824, complainant was ready and pressed for a trial, and that the defendants were not ready for trial at that or any subsequent term, but continued the same on their affidavit; and it appearing to the court that complainant did pay said James Boyce the sum of $1,250 on 5 July, 1818, and on that day executed to him his note for $750 in part payment for said land, and that James Boyce had a counterpart of the agreement: "

" It is further ordered, adjudged and decreed that defendant Robert, administrator of the goods, &c., of James Boyce, deceased, do pay to complainant the said sum of $1,250, with legal interest thereon at the rate of eight percentum per annum, which appears to be the legal rate of interest in said Mississippi State, from the said 5 July, 1818, until this day, making the sum of $2,065.28, to be levied of the goods, &c., of said James in his hands to be administered, and execution issued therefor as at law, and that defendants do surrender to the clerk and master of this Court said note for $750 and said counterpart within three calendar months after final decree in this cause, which, together with the agreement exhibited in the bill, shall be by him cancelled, and that defendant be perpetually enjoined from executing said judgment on the law side of this Court. It is further decreed that defendants pay the costs of this suit, and the costs of said suit at law, and that execution issue therefor as at law"

"-- as by the inspection of the transcript of the record of the said circuit court, which was brought into the Supreme Court of the United States by virtue of an appeal, agreeably to the act of Congress in such case made and provided, fully and at large appears."

"And whereas, in the present term of January in the year of our Lord 1830, the said cause came on to be heard before the said Supreme Court on the said transcript of the record and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, it is ordered and decreed by the Court that the decree of the said circuit

Page 34 U. S. 278

court in this cause be, and the same is hereby affirmed with costs. February 2, 1830."

"You therefore are hereby commanded that such execution and proceedings be had in said cause as according to right and justice and the laws of the United States ought to be had, the said appeal notwithstanding."

In the circuit court, the proceedings on the mandate were the following.

"September 13, 1830. This cause came on this day and on a former day of this term to be heard before the Honorable John McLean and John McNairy, Judges, in presence of counsel on both sides, upon the mandamus from the Supreme Court affirming the decree formerly rendered in this court, and in obedience to said mandate it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the defendants pay the costs of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the costs of appeal, to be taxed by the clerk and master, and upon motion and petition of complainant, the cause is set down for further directions, and it is ordered that the clerk and master take an account of the assets of James Boyce, deceased, in the hands of the defendant, Robert Boyce, to be administered, and make report, during this term, until the coming of which report other matters are reserved."

"And at the same term, to-wit, 1830."

" This cause came on for further directions, this 28 September, 1830, and upon the exceptions filed by the counsel for defendants to the report of the clerk and master, which report was made in pursuance of a decree rendered at a former day of this term, and is in the words and figures following, to-wit: "

" In obedience to the interlocutory order made in this cause at the present term, the clerk and master reports that it does not appear that any personal assets of James Boyce, deceased, came to the hands of said defendants as his executors, but it does appear, from the agreement between complainant and Robert Boyce, admitted to have been dated 23 May, 1823, and from the depositions of Thomas B. Reed, Isaac Caldwell, and James E. Gillespie that Robert Boyce has received for rents, previous to 1 January, 1824, the sum of $2,100. That interest on this sum, from 1 January, 1824, till 1 September, 1830 (at the rate of eight percentum per annum, the transaction having taken

Page 34 U. S. 279

place in the State of Mississippi, where, by the pleadings in this cause, that is admitted to be the legal rate of interest), will amount to $1,120, amounting in all to $3,220. The above depositions of Reed, Gillespie and Caldwell, and said agreement are herewith produced as a part of this report. It appears from the answer of defendants that the land in controversy was devised by James Boyce, deceased, to one Richard Boyce, one of the defendants in this cause. All of which is respectfully submitted."

" And exceptions to said report being argued by counsel and fully understood by the court here, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the exceptions to said report be overruled and that the report be confirmed except so far as relates to the interest on the sum of $2,100. It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the complainant recover of Robert Boyce the said sum of $2,100, with interest from this day, to be levied of his own proper goods and chattels, lands and tenements, and that, for the balance due the complainant, amounting to $496.46, with interest from this time, and also the aforementioned sum of $2,100, in case the same is not paid by the said Robert Boyce on or before the first Monday in March next, and the costs of this suit, that the complainant has a lien on the tract of land in the State of Mississippi in the pleadings mentioned, and is entitled to have the same sold to satisfy the above mentioned sums of money. It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that in case the said sums of money and costs of suit or any part thereof be unpaid on 1 March next, that in that case the said tract of land and appurtenances be exposed for sale at Natchez in the State of Mississippi by commissioners to be appointed by the clerk and master of this court on such credit as he may direct, forty days' notice of the time and place of sale being given in some public newspaper printed in Natchez. And it is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed in case of said sale that the defendants, Robert Boyce, as executor and administrator with the will annexed, and Richard Boyce, join in a deed or deeds to the purchaser or purchasers, under the direction of the clerk and master of this court, and it is further ordered that the clerk and master of this court make report of his proceedings to the next term of this court. "

Page 34 U. S. 280

"The exceptions filed to the report of the clerk and master are in the words following, to-wit: "

" Defendants, by their counsel, except in manner following to the report of the clerk and master of this court in this cause."

" 1. It is not the fact, as stated by the said clerk and master, that the agreement between R. Boyce and F. Grundy, of date 23 May, 1823, admits, either on its face or by implication, that the said Robert Boyce had then or has now assets in his hands as executor of the last will and testament of James Boyce, deceased."

" 2. Defendants except to said report if by it, it is intended to render Robert Boyce liable as executor of James on the ground that he had assets in May, 1823, because the same may have been long since paid away in discharge of debts due by the testator in his lifetime."

" 3. Defendant excepts to said report because it should have been stated that the agreement between R. Boyce and F. Grundy of May 23, 1823, was an agreement with said Boyce not as executor, but in his own individual capacity, and that said Boyce was acting merely as attorney in fact for said Grundy, and is responsible, if at all, in his individual capacity -- the collections to be made by said Boyce if the contract between James Boyce and said Grundy was rescinded to be, stand, and remain subject to future arrangements between said parties."

" For these and many other reasons to be assigned on argument, defendant's counsel pray that said report be recommitted to said clerk and master."

The defendants appealed to this Court.

Page 34 U. S. 286

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