Boyden v. United States - 80 U.S. 17 (1871)
U.S. Supreme Court
Boyden v. United States, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 17 17 (1871)
Boyden v. United States
80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 17
1. A receiver of public moneys of the United States does not stand in the position of an ordinary bailee; he is bound to higher responsibility. Upon a suit, therefore, on a bond "for the faithful discharge of his trust," such a receiver cannot discharge himself by showing that he was suddenly beset in his office, thrown down, bound, gagged, and that against all the defense he could make, the money was violently and without his fault taken from him.
2. Though statutes oblige receivers to pay over when required by the Secretary of the Treasury, a declaration stating that the receiver had been often requested to pay is enough after verdict, there having been general regulations in force at the time the bond here sued on was given requiring receivers to pay at stated times.
The United States sued Boyden and his sureties on his official bond as receiver of public moneys for the district of lands subject to sale at Eau Claire, in the State of Wisconsin. The bond was given pursuant to the 6th section of the Act of May 10, 1800. [Footnote 1] The section enacts:
"The receiver of public moneys shall, before be enters upon the duties of his office, give bond with approved security for the faithful discharge of his trust. "
This bond was conditioned that if the said Boyden truly and faithfully executed and discharged all the duties of his said office according to law, then the obligation should be void. The breach alleged was that Boyden had received as receiver $5,088 of the moneys of the United States, which he had not paid over to the United States "although often requested so to do."
The defendants pleaded as one plea that Boyden had been violently robbed of the said sum of money, and under a notice that they would give in such evidence offered upon the trial to prove that, on the 23d of December, 1859, at Eau Claire, in the State of Wisconsin, while in the land office of the United States for that land district, he the said Boyden, then and there being the receiver of public moneys for said district and then and there being in the discharge of the duties of his office as such receiver, was suddenly beset by some person or persons to him unknown and thrown down, and against all defense that he could make was gagged and bound, and the moneys described in the complaint violently and without his fault taken from him and carried away.
To the introduction of this evidence the United States objected upon the ground that the facts as offered to be proved constituted no defense. The court sustained the objection, and the defendants excepted.
Judgment having been given for the United States, the defendant brought the case here.
The assignments of error were:
1. That the evidence offered was improperly rejected.
2. That the declaration did not state a cause of action. This second assignment being founded on the fact that an act of August 6, 1846, [Footnote 2] requires all receivers of public moneys to keep in their possession all of the moneys by them received until the same is ordered by the proper department or officer of the government to be transferred or paid out, and that the amendatory act of March 3, 1857, [Footnote 3] requires
persons having moneys of the United States in their hands to pay them to the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer, or public depositary of the United States, when required by the Secretary of the Treasury or any other department.
The case was twice argued.