Railroad Company v. Church
86 U.S. 62 (1873)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Railroad Company v. Church, 86 U.S. 19 Wall. 62 62 (1873)

Railroad Company v. Church

86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 62

Syllabus

1. A writ of error lies from this Court to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia on a judgment confirming an assessment for damages by the use of the street in front of the church of defendants in error, although the proceedings before the jury and the marshal and in the Supreme Court are governed by a statute of Maryland which, by the construction of the courts of that state, does not allow an appeal or writ of error.

2. The early decisions of this Court held that the right to the writ exists in such cases by virtue of the appellate power of this Court as defined in the Act of 1801, creating the Circuit Court of the District, and we are governed by the same act.

The trustees of the Sixth Presbyterian Church, in the City of Washington, instituted proceedings before the marshal and a jury of the District of Columbia against the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Company to recover from it damages which the church had sustained by reason of the road of the company having been run through a street in front of their church. The jury assessed the damages at $11,500, and on the return of this inquest into the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, the inquisition was confirmed and a judgment rendered that the trustees of the church recover of the railroad company that sum, with costs. The company having brought the case to this Court on writ of error, a motion was now made by the trustees of the church to dismiss it for want of jurisdiction in this Court.

This want of jurisdiction was based on two propositions:

Page 86 U. S. 63

1. That the proceeding is in its nature summary and special, and is of that character in which the action of the court confirming or quashing the verdict of the jury is conclusive, and admits of no appeal.

2. That the proceeding in this case is governed, both before the jury and in the Supreme Court of the District, by a statute of Maryland which, by the uniform construction of the courts of that state, does not allow an appeal or writ of error to any other court.

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