Intermingled Cotton Cases - 92 U.S. 651 (1875)
U.S. Supreme Court
Intermingled Cotton Cases, 92 U.S. 651 (1875)
Intermingled Cotton Cases
92 U.S. 651
1. The Court of Claims found that cotton in large quantities captured from the respective owners thereof in Mississippi by the military forces of the United States was subsequently intermingled and stored in a common mass, and then sent forward and sold by the Treasury agents in the same intermingled condition, and the proceeds thereof paid into the Treasury as a common fund; that court further found as a fact that the cotton of each of the claimants in these suits contributed to and formed a part of the mass so intermingled and sold. Having ascertained the amount of that fund remaining in the Treasury after deducting payments theretofore made to other claimants, the number of bales sold to create the fund for which payment had not already been made, and the number of bales contributed by each of the plaintiffs to the common mass, the court thereupon gave judgment in favor of the plaintiff in each case for a sum which bore the same proportion to the whole fund still on hand that the number of his bales did to the whole number then represented by the fund. Held that the judgment was proper.
2. While the Court of Claims cannot delegate its judicial powers, and must itself hear and determine all causes which come before it for adjudication, no reason exists why it may not use such machinery as courts of more general jurisdiction are accustomed to employ under similar circumstances to aid in their investigations.
3. Where that court in certain cases before it, in which complicated accounts and facts were to be passed upon, referred them to a special commissioner to state the accounts, marshal the assets, and adjust the losses, "so that equal and exact justice should be done to all," and upon consideration of his report, and after due deliberation, approved it, held that the judgments as rendered are the result of the deliberation of the court, and not that of the commissioner alone.