United States v. Hoffman - 71 U.S. 158 (1866)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Hoffman, 71 U.S. 4 Wall. 158 158 (1866)
United States v. Hoffman
71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 158
1. The writ of prohibition can only be used to prevent the doing of some act which is about to be done, and can never be used as a remedy for acts already completed.
2. Therefore, where the court to which the writ should be issued has already disposed of the case, so that nothing remains which that court can do, either by way of executing its judgment or otherwise, no prohibition will be granted.
3. And this is true though the final disposition of the case was made after service on the judge of a rule to show cause why the writ should not issue and though other cases of the same character may be pending in the same court.
At the last term of this Court, the relator made application for a writ of prohibition to the judge of the District Court of the Northern District of California to prevent that court from proceeding further in a certain cause in admiralty. This Court, without looking into the question of the alleged want of jurisdiction, granted a rule on the judge of that court to show cause why the writ should not be issued, and an order accompanied the rule that he should proceed no further in the case until the decision of this Court in the premises.
The return of the judge to that rule was now before this Court. The substance of it was that after the rule had been served upon him, the libellant in the admiralty suit came into court and moved for permission to pay all the costs that had accrued, and to dismiss his suit. After hearing
argument the court granted the motion, and the libellant, having paid all the costs of both parties, an order was made dismissing the suit.
The relator now asked that the writ of prohibition might issue notwithstanding the return, and whether it should or not presented the question to be here decided.
The suggestion of the relator, it may be here mentioned, stated that four other suits in admiralty against vessels owned by him and founded on libels of the same character as the libel in this case were pending in the same court.