Urtetiqui v. D'Arcy
34 U.S. 692

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U.S. Supreme Court

Urtetiqui v. D'Arcy, 34 U.S. 9 Pet. 692 692 (1835)

Urtetiqui v. D'Arcy

34 U.S. (9 Pet.) 692

Syllabus

Maryland. The plaintiffs instituted a suit in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Maryland, stating themselves to be citizens of the State of Maryland, and that the defendant was an alien, and a subject of the King of Spain. The defendant pleaded in abatement that one of the plaintiffs, Domingo D'Arbel, was not a citizen of Maryland nor of any of the United States, but was an alien, and a subject of the King of Spain. Upon the trial of the issue joined on this plea, the plaintiff's produced and gave in evidence under the decision of the circuit court a passport granted by the Secretary of State of the United States, stating D'Arbel to be a citizen of the United States. Held that the passport was not legal evidence to establish the fact of the citizenship of the person in whose favor it was given.

The defendant in the circuit court offered in evidence the record, duly certified, of the District Court of the United States for the District of Louisiana, containing the proceedings in a suit which had been originally instituted against D'Arbel in a state court of Louisiana, and on his affidavit that he was an alien, and a subject of the King of Spain, had been removed for trial to the district court, under the authority of the act of Congress authorizing such a removal of a suit against an alien into a court of the United States. The record was introduced as containing a copy of the affidavit of D'Arbel in the state court, upon which the case was removed. Held that this was legal evidence.

The defendants in error instituted an action of assumpsit in the circuit court, and in the declaration stated themselves to be citizens of Maryland, and that the defendant was a subject of the King of Spain. The declaration contained the common counts.

The defendant below, Domingo Urtetiqui, pleaded the general issue and also a plea in abatement, alleging that Domingo D'Arbel, one of the plaintiffs, was not, at the impetration of the writ, a citizen of the United States or of any one of them.

To this plea there was a replication, and an issue thereon. On the trial of the cause upon other issues joined, exceptions were taken to the ruling of the court, but as the cause was

Page 34 U. S. 693

decided in this Court exclusively upon the questions raised on the plea in abatement, they are omitted in this report.

The exceptions taken by the defendants in the circuit court were the following.

The plaintiffs in the circuit court having offered evidence to prove that Domingo D'Arbel was an inhabitant of Louisiana before and on 30 April, 1803, and continued to be an inhabitant thereof until the year 1818 or 1819 -- further to support the issue on their part, on the plea of abatement, and to prove the citizenship of D'Arbel, offered in evidence a passport granted by John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State, on 22 March, 1824, to the said D'Arbel, as a citizen of the United States. To the admissibility of this passport as legal or competent evidence of the American citizenship of the said D'Arbel the defendant below objected, but the court overruled the objection and permitted the same to be read to the jury.

The defendant, to support his plea in abatement and for the purpose of showing the admission of D'Arbel, under oath, that he was on 8 May, 1817, a subject of the King of Spain, offered in evidence a record of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana in a cause wherein John K. West, curator of James Niel, was plaintiff and Domingo D'Arbel was defendant, which had been removed, under and by virtue of the twelfth section of the act of 1789, from the District Court of the State of Louisiana for the First Judicial District upon the petition of the said D'Arbel, supported by affidavit, that he was on 8 May, 1817, a subject of his Most Catholic Majesty the King of Spain. The record offered in evidence set out the transcript or record from the state court, certified under seal by the deputy clerk of said court, and also the proceedings in the district Court of the United States thereupon, and the said record was certified in due form, as containing "a full, faithful and true copy of the transcript" from the state court, "and also of the proceedings which have taken place in said cause," in the district court of the United States. The defendant below also proposed to give in evidence that the D'Arbel mentioned in the record was the same D'Arbel, one of the plaintiffs in this cause.

The plaintiffs objected to the evidence so offered, and the

Page 34 U. S. 694

court refused to permit the record to be read in evidence for the three following reasons:

1. It is res inter alios acta.

2. The transcript from the court of the State of Louisiana is certified by Stephen Pedesclaux, deputy clerk, without any official seal. And,

3. The clerk of the district court of the United States certifies that the foregoing nine pages (meaning the record) contain a full, faithful, and true copy of the transcript from the First Judicial District Court of the State of Louisiana in the case wherein John K. West, curator of the estate of James Neil, is plaintiff and Domingo D'Arbel is defendant, &c. The certificate is in effect the copy of a copy.

The defendant below, to support his plea in abatement, also gave in evidence by competent witnesses that D'Arbel had declared himself to have been a native Frenchman, and born near the borders between France and Spain, whereupon the plaintiffs prayed the court that if the defendant offers no other evidence than what was then before the jury in support of his plea in abatement, the plaintiffs were entitled to the verdict, if the jury believed the plaintiffs' evidence, which prayer the court granted.

The defendant excepted to the decisions of the court on the evidence offered by the plaintiffs and to the ruling of the court on the prayers of the defendant, and the court sealed a bill of exceptions. A judgment having been entered on the verdict of the jury in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant prosecuted this writ of error.

Page 34 U. S. 697

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