Sarchet v. United States - 37 U.S. 143 (1838)
U.S. Supreme Court
Sarchet v. United States, 37 U.S. 12 Pet. 143 143 (1838)
Sarchet v. United States
37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 143
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FROM
THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SOUTHERN CIRCUIT OF NEW YORK
The United States instituted a suit on a bond for duties in the District Court of the Southern District of New York, and after a trial and verdict for the United States, judgment was given against the defendant, who thereupon prosecuted a writ of error to the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, where the judgment of the district court was affirmed. The defendant then appealed to the Court of Appeals. Held that cases at law can only be brought from the circuit court by writ of error, and cannot be brought by appeal. In cases at law removed from the district to the circuit court, the judgment of the circuit court is final and conclusive. It is otherwise in cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction.
Mr. Butler, the Attorney General, moved to dismiss the appeal on two grounds.
1. That this was originally a proceeding at law, on a bond for duties, in the District Court of New York for the Southern District, and was, after a judgment of that court for the United States, taken by a writ of error to the Circuit Court for the Southern Circuit by the defendant, where the judgment of the district court was affirmed. The judgment of the circuit court is final in such a case.
2. This is a proceeding at law, and the defendant has brought the case from the circuit court by an appeal, and not by a writ of error.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case, an action was brought by the United States against Edward Sarchet and others in the District Court for the Southern District of New York upon a bond for duties charged by the collector upon certain iron imported into the United States. The duties
claimed were contested by the defendants upon the ground that iron of the description imported was not by law chargeable with that duty and that the bond was therefore improperly taken. The judgment in the district court was against the defendants, and they removed it by writ of error to the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York in the Second Circuit, where the judgment of the district court was affirmed, and the case is now brought here by appeal from the judgment of the circuit court.
The Attorney General has moved to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction in this Court, and we think the appeal cannot be sustained.
It has been repeatedly determined that under the acts of Congress regulating the appellate jurisdiction of this Court from the circuit courts, cases must be brought here by writ of error, and cannot be brought here by appeal. And as this was a suit at law on a bond, it could not under any circumstances legally come before us on appeal, but must come up by writ of error in order to give us jurisdiction to try it.
There is also another objection equally fatal to this proceeding. In cases at law removed from the district court to the circuit court, the judgment of the circuit court is final between the parties. It is otherwise in cases in equity and of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and although the reason for this distinction may not be entirely obvious, yet it is our duty to conform to the provisions of the law, and this Court has repeatedly decided that in civil cases at law, the judgment of the circuit court is final where the case is removed by writ of error from the district court to the circuit court. The point was fully considered and decided in the case of United States v. Goodwin, 7 Cranch 108, and the opinion there given has been since reaffirmed in several cases. 11 U. S. 7 Cranch 287; 15 U. S. 2 Wheat. 248, 15 U. S. 395. The question must be regarded as too well settled to be now open for argument, and as this Court would not have jurisdiction in any form of proceeding to review the judgment given in this case by the circuit court, it would be evidently improper to hear an argument on the questions decided there or to express any opinion concerning them. The appeal is therefore