Twenty Percent Cases
80 U.S. 568 (1871)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Twenty Percent Cases, 80 U.S. 13 Wall. 568 568 (1871)

Twenty Percent Cases

80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 568

Syllabus

Under the joint resolution of February 28, 1867, increasing by 20 percent the pay of employees in the Department of the interior &c., and in the office of the Capitol and Treasury Extension and Commissioner of Public Buildings, neither a commission nor a warrant of appointment is necessary to entitle an employee to the benefit of the provision under consideration, provided he was actually and properly employed in the office of the Capitol or Treasury Extension or in the office of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, if it appears that he is one of the persons or class of persons described in the joint resolution. Persons so employed are properly in the service if they were employed by the head of the department, or of the bureau, or any division of the department charged with that duty and authorized to make such contracts and fix the compensation of the person employed, even though the particular employment may not be designated in any appropriation act.

A joint resolution of Congress of February 28, 1867, [Footnote 1] provided:

"That there shall be allowed and paid to the following described persons [whose salaries do not exceed $3,500] now employed in the civil service of the United States, at Washington, as follows: to civil officers and temporary and all other clerks, messengers, and watchmen, including enlisted men detailed as such, to be computed upon the gross amount of the compensation received by them, and employees male and female, in the Executive Mansion, and in any of the following-named departments, or any bureau or division thereof, to-wit, State, Treasury,

Page 80 U. S. 569

War, Navy, Interior, Post Office, Attorney General's, Agricultural, and including civil officers and temporary, and all other clerks and employees, male and female, in the offices of the Coast Survey, Naval Observatory, Navy Yard, Arsenal, Paymaster General, including the division of referred claims, Commissary General of Prisoners, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Quartermaster's, Capitol and Treasury Extension, City Post Office, and Commissioner of Public Buildings; to the photographer of the Treasury Department, to the superintendent of meters, and to lamplighters under the Commissioner of Public Buildings, an additional compensation of 20 percentum on their respective salaries as fixed by law, or, where no salary is fixed by law, upon their pay, respectively, for one year from and after the 30th day of June, 1866."

I

. FITZPATRICK'S AND SEVEN OTHER CASES

This joint resolution being in force, several persons, named respectively Fitzpatrick, Hall, Bohn, Lytle, Holbrook, La Rieu, Richards, and Newman, and whose salaries were all less than $3,500, filed their petitions, each setting forth facts which, if true, brought him within the act and each claiming the 20 percent additional. By the finding of the Court of Claims, it appeared that Fitzpatrick was an employee in the office of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, as keeper of the western gate of the Capitol; that Hall was an employee in the office of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, in that part of the Capitol called the crypt; that Bohn was an employee in the office of the Commissioner of Public Buildings as a laborer on the public grounds; that Lytle was an employee in the office of the Commissioner of Public Buildings as watchman in the east grounds of the Capitol; that Holbrook was an employee in the office of the Commissioner of Public Buildings as watchman at the stables; that La Rieu was an employee in the same office as watchman in the Smithsonian grounds; that Richards was an employee in the same office as watchman on the Capitol dome, and Newman was an employee in the same office as captain of the Capitol police.

Page 80 U. S. 570

II

. MILLER'S CASE

About the same time, one Miller filed a petition in the Court of Claims, alleging that he had been as clerk and employee in the office of the Capitol Extension, assigned to duty as foreman of construction, receiving a salary of $1,800; that he was in the civil service of the United States at Washington, and that he was thus entitled to an addition of 20 percent on his salary, under the joint resolution above quoted, and asking judgment against the United States therefor. The United States opposed the demand.

The court found as fact:

1. That the claimant was appointed foreman of carpenters by the Secretary of the Interior Department, March 1st, 1866, at a salary of $1800 per annum, and was in the service of the United States, in connection with Capitol Extension, at Washington, D.C., continuously from June 30th, 1866, to June 30th, 1867, inclusive, at the said salary.

2. That he was paid monthly, as in the case of other salaried officers; that he received materials for the work upon the Capitol building, made up daily reports, had charge of workmen, and performed such duties as were assigned him by the architect of the Capitol Extension, and was paid out of the said fund as the architect of the Capitol Extension, clerks, and others connected with said work, viz., the appropriation for the Capitol Extension.

No other facts than those above mentioned were found by the court. The counsel of the United States, however, after adverting to the fact that the findings contradicted an averment of the petitioner of a matter within his own knowledge, they finding that he was appointed foreman of carpenters March 1, 1866, at a salary of $1,800 per annum, and the counsel stating -- by way of reconciling the discrepancy -- that prior to March 1, 1866, the claimant was employed in the same capacity as thereafterwards, but at a compensation of only $5 per day of actual employment -- that is, exclusive of Sundays, or about $1,500 per annum -- and that the Secretary of the Interior, on March 1, 1866, wrote the following letter:

Page 80 U. S. 571

"DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR"

"WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 1866"

"SIR: You are hereby authorized, from and after the 1st of the present month, to pay George Miller, timekeeper &c., on the Capitol Extension, at the rate of $150 per month for the time actually employed, until further orders."

"I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,"

"JAMES HARLAN, Secretary"

"DR. WM. S. MARSH,"

"Disbursing Agent, Capitol Extension"

III

. MANNING'S CASE

Near about the same time, one Manning filed a petition with a purpose similar to that with which the others filed theirs. The court found that the claimant was employed as watchman or guard at the jail in Washington for one year at a salary of $1,200 per year, paid to him monthly by the disbursing officer of the Department of the Interior. His pay was fixed at this rate by the Secretary of the Interior under act of Congress which place the jail under the supervision of the Department of the Interior.

The Court of Claims gave a decree for the claimants in all of the cases, and the United States appealed in all.

Page 80 U. S. 572

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