United States v. Leffler - 36 U.S. 86 (1837)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Leffler, 36 U.S. 11 Pet. 86 86 (1837)
United States v. Leffler
36 U.S. (11 Pet.) 86
The United States instituted a joint action on a joint and several bond, executed by a collector of taxes, &c., and his sureties. The defendant, the principal in the bond, confessed a judgment, by a cognovit actionem, and the United States issued an execution against his body on the judgment, upon which he was imprisoned, and was afterwards discharged from confinement under the insolvent laws of the United States. The United States proceeded against the other defendants, and on the trial of the cause before a jury, the principal in the bond having been released by his co-obligors, was offered by the defendants and admitted by the circuit court to prove that one of the co-obligors had executed the bond on condition that others would execute it, which had not been done. The circuit court admitted the evidence. Held that there was no error in the decision.
The principle settled by this Court, in the case of Bank of the United States v. Dunn, 6 Pet. 51, goes to the exclusion of the evidence of a party to a negotiable instrument upon the ground of the currency given to it by the name of the witness called to impeach its validity, and does not extend to any other case to which that reasoning does not apply.
The United States instituted an action of debt on a joint and several bond, executed on 8 December 1816, by Salathiel Curtis Jacob Leffler, Isaac Leffler, Benjamin Biggs and Reuben Foreman, conditioned for the faithful performance by Salathiel Curtis of the duties of collector of taxes, then held by him. The cause abated as to Biggs and Foreman by their deaths.
After the institution of the suit and prior to the trial of the same against Jacob and Isaac Leffler, the defendants in error, Salathiel Curtis who had appeared and pleaded to the action, by his attorney, withdrew his plea, and having said nothing in bar to the action of the plaintiffs, the court, on consideration thereof, gave judgment for the plaintiffs against him, for the debt mentioned in the declaration, with costs. Afterwards, the United States sued out an execution on the judgment against the body of the defendant, who was taken, and was in the custody of the marshal, when, he being in such custody, under a warrant from the president of the United States bearing date on 8 May 1824, he was duly discharged from
custody, under the insolvent laws of the United States, he having complied with the requisitions of those laws.
The United States proceeded to a trial of the suit against the defendants, Jacob and Isaac Leffler, in December 1835, upon issues joined on two pleas of Jacob Leffler, the first being a plea of non est factum, and the second a special plea to the same effect, setting forth that he had executed the bond in question as an escrow and on the condition, that it should be executed by certain other persons as co-sureties for Salathiel Curtis who did not execute the same.
On the trial of the cause, the defendant, Jacob Leffler, to support the issue of non est factum, offered in evidence the deposition of Salathiel Curtis, which deposition was objected to by the district attorney of the United States. The deposition stated that Jacob Leffler and Reuben Foreman executed the bond under the impression and on the condition that the deponent could procure the signatures of other persons to the same, and they were not so procured. The competency of the witness being so objected to on the part of the United States, evidence of the proceedings against him to judgment and execution, and of his discharge under the insolvent laws of the United States, was given by the defendant, Jacob Leffler, and the circuit court having overruled the objection, the deposition, taken after the said proceedings, was admitted in evidence. The jury found a verdict for the defendant, on which judgment was given, and the United States having taken a bill of exceptions to the evidence, this writ of error was prosecuted on their behalf.