Millingar v. Hartupee
73 U.S. 258 (1867)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Millingar v. Hartupee, 73 U.S. 6 Wall. 258 258 (1867)

Millingar v. Hartupee

73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 258

Syllabus

1. The twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act does not give jurisdiction to this Court in cases of decisions by the courts of a state against mere assertions of an exercise of authority under the United States.

Hence, where a party claims authority under an order of a court of the United States which, when rightly viewed, does not purport to confer any authority upon him, the writ will be dismissed.

Page 73 U. S. 259

2. And it will be dismissed on motion, and apart from a consideration of merits, when the single question is not the validity of the authority, but its existence, and the Court is fully satisfied that there was and could have been no decision by the state court against any authority under the United States existing in fact.

On motion to dismiss the writ for want of jurisdiction.

Hartupee brought an action against Millingar as garnishee of Gearing, in one of the courts of Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, the object of the suit having been to subject certain moneys of Gearing alleged to be in the hands of Millingar to the satisfaction of a judgment recovered by Hartupee against Gearing in that court.

The controversy related to the ownership of certain cotton captured for breach of blockade and libeled as prize in the District Court for the Northern District of New York. This cotton, before the hearing of the cause of prize, had been released to Millingar by an order of the court upon the consent and application of the district attorney, and with the consent also of the counsel for the captors.

In the suit in the state court it was alleged on the part of the plaintiff, Hartupee, that the cotton when captured was the property of Gearing, and remained such when relieved by the release from liability to condemnation for violation of the blockade. He demanded therefore that the cotton or its proceeds in the hands of Millingar -- the cotton having been sold by Millingar and the question being upon the liability of the proceeds for the debts of Gearing -- should be subjected to the satisfaction of his judgment against Gearing.

On the other hand, it was asserted by the defendant, Millingar, that the cotton at the time of capture belonged to him and not to Gearing, and if this were otherwise, that the order of release transferred the title to him.

The controversy resulted in a judgment against Millingar in favor of Hartupee for the amount of the judgment of the latter against Gearing.

From this judgment a writ of error was taken to the Supreme

Page 73 U. S. 260

Court of Pennsylvania, by which court the judgment of the district court was affirmed.

One of the questions requiring the judgment of the supreme court was whether the order of the district court releasing a portion of the captured cotton from the custody of the marshal, and ordering that it be delivered to Millingar, vested in him any title of ownership, and the decision of the court was that it did not.

Millingar then brought the case here on error, assuming it to be one within the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, which provides

"That a final judgment or decree in any suit, in the highest court of law or equity of a state in which a decision in the suit could be had, where is drawn in question the validity of a treaty or statute of, or an authority exercised under the United States, and the decision is against their validity . . . may be reexamined and reversed or affirmed in this Court upon a writ of error."

The correctness of this assumption was the point now raised, by the motion to dismiss.

Page 73 U. S. 261

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