Benner v. Porter - 50 U.S. 235 (1850)
U.S. Supreme Court
Benner v. Porter, 50 U.S. 9 How. 235 235 (1850)
Benner v. Porter
50 U.S. (9 How.) 235
Whilst Florida was a territory, Congress established courts there, in which cases appropriate to federal and state jurisdictions were tried indiscriminately.
Florida was admitted into the Union as a state on the 3 March, 1845.
The constitution of the state provided that all officers, civil and military, then holding their offices under the authority of the United States, should continue to hold them until superseded under the state constitution.
But this article did not continue the existence of courts which had been created as part of the territorial government by Congress.
In 1845, the legislature of the state passed an act for the transfer from the territorial to the state courts of all cases except those cognizance by the federal courts, and in 1847, Congress provided for the transfer of these to the federal courts.
Therefore, where the territorial court took cognizance, in 1846, of a case of libel, it acted without any jurisdiction.
The case of Hunt v. Palao, 4 How. 589, commented on and explained.
This action originated in the Superior court for the Southern District of Florida in March, 1846, and was transferred to the United States District Court for Florida on 14 May, 1847.
On 24 March, 1846, Joseph Y. Porter filed a libel in admiralty against the appellants in the Superior Court for the Southern District of the Territory of Florida for the proceeds of the sloop Texas, charging that he had furnished supplies and stores to the master at the port of Key West whilst the vessel was engaged in the business of wrecking.
On 22 May, 1846, the superior court gave judgment for the libellant for the sum of $1,223.02.
On 14 May, 1847, the cause was transferred to the district court of the United States and an appeal prayed by the defendants to this Court.
Upon this appeal the case came up.