Jones v. Green - 68 U.S. 330 (1873)
U.S. Supreme Court
Jones v. Green, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 330 330 (1873)
Jones v. Green
68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 330
A bill in equity will not lie on behalf of judgment creditors to subject real property of their debtor, held by a third party upon a secret trust for him, to the satisfaction of their judgment until a fruitless attempt has been made for its collection by execution at law.
In February, 1859, C. and J. Green and C. and I. Gill filed a bill in chancery in the district court of the territory just mentioned against one Jones and a certain Brown. It set forth that in March, 1858, the said Greens had obtained judgment in the District Court of the First Judicial District of Nebraska against Brown, for $1,155, and that in October of the same year, the other two complainants, G. and C. Gill, had obtained judgment against him in the same court for $450. It charged that on the 15th of July, 1857, Brown was engaged in mercantile pursuits in the City of Omaha, that he was on that day utterly insolvent, and being about to suspend business and the payment of his debts, purchased certain real estate in the city just named, and in order to place it beyond the reach of his creditors, procured a conveyance to be made to the other defendant, Jones, who it was alleged now held the property upon a secret trust for him. The bill set forth also that executions had been issued and returned unsatisfied, and prayed that the premises might be sold and the proceeds applied to the payment of the judgments. The
answer denied that executions had been issued and returned unsatisfied, and there was no sufficient proof that they had been.
The district court rendered a decree in favor of the complainants, and the supreme court of the territory affirmed it. On the argument of the appeal in this Court -- which was by Messrs. Carlisle and Redick for the appellant, and by Mr. Woolworth contra -- several objections were made to the decree, but the only one considered by the Court was whether the bill would lie before the judgment creditors had attempted to collect their judgments by execution at law.