United States v. Stone
39 U.S. 524

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Stone, 39 U.S. 14 Pet. 524 524 (1840)

United States v. Stone

39 U.S. (14 Pet.) 524

Syllabus

Action in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York by the United States against the defendant for a penalty under the act of 1838 "to provide for the better security of the lives of passengers on board of vessels propelled in whole or in part by steam." A verdict was rendered for the United States, and without a judgment on the verdict, the case was, by consent, removed to the circuit court of the United States. In the circuit court certain questions were presented on the argument, and a statement was made of those questions and they were certified pro forma at the request of the counsel for the parties to the Supreme Court for its decision. No difference of opinion was actually expressed by the judges of the circuit court. By the court:

"The judgment or other proceedings on the verdict ought to have been entered in the district court, and it was altogether irregular to transfer the proceeding in that condition to the circuit court."

The case was remanded to the circuit court.

An action of debt was instituted in the District Court for the Southern District of New York by the United States against the defendant as master of the steamboat New York to recover the penalty of three hundred dollars imposed by the ninth section of the Act of Congress of 7 July, 1838, entitled, "An act for the better security of the lives of passengers on board vessels propelled in whole or in part by steam."

The cause was tried in the district court in June, 1839.

On the trial of the cause in the district court, exceptions were taken by the counsel for the defendant to the decision of the court on questions of evidence which arose in the trial. Evidence was offered by the defendant, which was overruled by the court, to which decisions the counsel for the defendant also excepted.

The district judge charged the jury in favor of the plaintiffs on a case agreed upon, but for the more full consideration of the questions in the cause he recommended, with the consent of the counsel on both sides, that the jury should find a verdict for the plaintiffs, subject to the opinion of the court, upon a case to be made, with leave to either party to turn the same into a bill of exceptions or special verdict. Upon which the jury found such verdict accordingly.

No judgment was entered on the verdict, but by consent of the counsel in the cause it was transferred to the circuit court without any other proceedings in the district court.

The record stated that on the argument of the cause, the circuit court were divided in opinion on questions presented on the argument of the counsel for the plaintiffs and the defendant, and at the

Page 39 U. S. 525

request of the counsel for the parties they were ordered to be certified to the Supreme Court for its decision. This division of opinion was in fact made pro forma and for the purpose of obtaining the opinion of the Supreme Court on the points certified.

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