Chaires v. United States
44 U.S. 611

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chaires v. United States, 44 U.S. 3 How. 611 611 (1845)

Chaires v. United States

44 U.S. (3 How.) 611

Syllabus

Where this Court has affirmed the title to lands in Florida and referred in its decree to a particular survey, it would not be proper for the court below to open the case for a rehearing for the purpose of adopting another survey.

The court below can only execute the mandate of this Court. It has no authority to disturb the decree, and can only settle what remains to be done.

This was an appeal from the Superior Court of East Florida and a sequel to the case reported in 35 U. S. 10 Pet. 308.

The appellants filed in the court below the following petition:

"To the Honorable Isaac H. Bronson, Judge of the Superior Court in and for the Eastern District of Florida."

"The petition of Joseph Chaires of the said territory, executor of the last will and testament of Benjamin Chaires, late of the same territory but now deceased, Peter Miranda, and Gad Humphreys, respectfully showeth: "

"That the said Benjamin Chaires, Peter Miranda, and Gad Humphreys, heretofore, to-wit, on 11 May, which was in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-nine, filed their petition in the office of the clerk of this Honorable Court in terms of an act of Congress of the United States, entitled an act supplementary to the several acts providing for the settlement and confirmation of private land claims in Florida, approved on 23 May in the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight, praying for the confirmation of certain claims to lands therein specified, and founded on a title made and granted by his Excellency Don Jose Coppinger, lieutenant-colonel of the royal armies of Spain, Civil and Military Governor of the Territory of Florida, then subject and belonging to his Catholic Majesty, the King of Spain, and chief of the Royal Exchequer of the City of St. Augustine, Florida, to Jose de la Maza Arredondo."

"That the attorney of the United States in and for said district duly appeared and answered the said petition, and thereupon such proceedings were had in the said court that afterwards, on 24 November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, a decree was rendered therein in favor of the petitioners, and the said court did thereupon order, adjudge, and decree that the claim of the said petitioner was valid and that, in accordance with the laws and customs of Spain and under and by virtue of the treaty of amity, settlement, and limits between the United States and Spain, ratified by the President of the United States on 22 February, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-one, and under and by virtue of the laws of nations and of the United States, the said claim was thereby confirmed, adjudged,

Page 44 U. S. 612

and decreed, unto the said claimant to the extent, for the number of acres, and at the place specified in the grant for the said land, to Jose de la Maza Arredondo, and as in the certificate and plat of the same, made by Andres Burgevin dated 14 September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, and fully in the said cause is set forth, that is to say:"

"A piece of land which contains 20,000 acres situated on both margins of a creek, known as Alligator Creek, said land commencing a little above the head of said creek and embracing an Indian town, distant about eighty miles from the port of Buena Vista and about forty miles to the northwest of Payne's Town, its first line running north twenty degrees west, three hundred and fifty-seven chains, begins at a pine marked X, and ends at another marked A; the second line running south seventy degrees west, five hundred and sixty chains, and ending at a stake; the third line running south twenty degrees east, three hundred and fifty-seven chains, and ending at a pine marked II; and the fourth line running north seventy degrees east, five hundred and sixty chains."

"That an appeal was taken from the decree, so rendered in this Honorable Court, to the Supreme Court of the United States by the attorney of the said United States in and for the said territory, and such proceedings were thereupon had in the said Supreme Court; that afterwards, on the ___ day of _____, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, the decree of this Honorable Court was affirmed, and thereupon the mandate of the said Supreme Court was awarded directing the same to be carried into effect."

"And your petitioner further shows to your honor that upon application to the proper officer of the United States to carry the said decree into effect by admeasuring to your petitioner the lands specified in the grant, it appears that there is error in rendering the said decree and that the same requires to be reformed in this --"

"That in and by the decree of this Honorable Court hereinbefore alleged and affirmed, in manner hereinbefore set forth by the Supreme Court, your petitioner's claim was confirmed, adjudged, and decreed to be valid 'to the extent, for the number of acres, and at the place as in the grant to the said land to Jose de la Maza Arredondo,' but it is added in the said decree,"

"and as in the certificate and plat of survey of the same, made by Don Andres Burgevin, and dated 14 September, one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, and filed herein, is set forth, to-wit,"

"&c., and the said decree thereafter proceeds to recite the metes and bounds as specified and set forth in the survey made by the said Don Andres Burgevin."

"That the land granted to Jose de la Maza Arredondo, and, in the decree before referred to, confirmed and adjudged to your petitioner is described in the royal grant or title to property, also before

Page 44 U. S. 613

herein referred to, consist of 20,000 acres of land, with title of absolute property, of those known as Alachua, about eighty miles distant from this city (of St. Augustine) at a place known as 'Big Hammock,' about twenty miles from the River Lawanee westward, about sixty miles from St. Johns."

While the land specified in the survey of Don Andres Burgevin is described as follows:

"20,000 acres of land, situated on both margins of a creek known as Alligator Creek. Said land commences a little above the head of said creek, and embraces an Indian town, distant about eighty miles from the post at Buena Vista, and about forty to the northwest of Payne's Town,"

&c.

"That the land specified in the said survey does not conform to or correspond with the land described in the said grant, and that the Surveyor General of the United States has therefore been unable to execute the decree of this Honorable Court, affirmed as aforesaid by the Supreme Court of the United States, and to admeasure to your petitioner the land adjudged to him by the said decree."

"That forasmuch as the land specified in the said grant to Jose de la Maza Arredondo is, by the decree aforesaid, adjudged to your petitioner, 'to the extent, for the number of acres, and at the place, as in the grant for said land,' your petitioner is entitled to have the same admeasured to him according to the terms of the said grant, and the description therein contained, and that if the said survey of Don Andres Burgevin conflicts with the said grant, the said survey must yield to and be controlled by the terms of the grant."

"Your petitioner further shows to your honor that the said land was duly surveyed and admeasured, and a plat thereof made and returned to this Honorable Court, and given in evidence in said cause, by Joshua A. Coffee, a competent and qualified surveyor, but that the same was omitted in the transcript of the record sent to the Supreme Court of the United States, although the fact of its having been given in evidence appears in the said transcript, a copy of which said survey is hereunto annexed."

"Your petitioner further shows to your honor, that the surveyor general of the United States hath refused to execute the said decree by admeasuring for your petitioner the land thereby confirmed and adjudged to him, and that, upon application to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, he hath in like manner refused so to do until the said decree shall have been reformed by the competent authority."

"Wherefore your petitioner prays this Honorable Court, the premises aforesaid being considered and due proof thereof being made, that the said decree may be reformed, and to that end that a rehearing of the said cause in this behalf may be granted; that the title of your petitioner to the 20,000 acres of land, specified in the grant to Jose de la Maza Arredondo may be adjudged to your petitioner according to the terms and specifications of the said grant,

Page 44 U. S. 614

and the survey of the said Joshua A. Coffee, a copy whereof is hereunto filed, or according to a survey to be made under the order of this Court by the Surveyor General of the Territory of Florida in conformity to the description of the said land in the said grant specified and set forth, to be returned into the registry of this Honorable Court, and that he may have such other and further relief as in the wisdom of this Honorable Court shall seem meet and right in the premises; and your petitioner,"

&c.

In June, 1844, the court, after hearing an argument, decided that the petition for rehearing could not be entertained and ordered it to be dismissed.

From this decree the petitioners appealed to this Court.

Page 44 U. S. 618

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