Mimmack v. United States
97 U.S. 426 (1878)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mimmack v. United States, 97 U.S. 426 (1878)

Mimmack v. United States

97 U.S. 426

Syllabus

Charges of drunkenness on duty having been preferred against A., a captain in the army, he proposed that if they should not be acted upon, he would place his resignation in the hands of his commanding officer, to be held, and not forwarded to the War Department, if he should entirely abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors. Accordingly, May 10, 1868, he enclosed in a letter to that officer his resignation, stating that it was without date, and authorizing him, subject to the condition above stated, to place it in the hands of the department commander, to be forwarded to the War Department if he, A., should become intoxicated again. On A.'s again becoming intoxicated on duty prior to Oct. 3, 1868, the department commander, on being notified of the fact, inserted the date of the 5th of that month in the resignation and duly for warded it. On the 29th, it was accepted by the President, and the notification of his action thereon was received by A. Nov. 11. The President revoked his acceptance, Dec. 11, but no order promulgating the revocation or restoring A. to duty was issued by the War Department. Dec. 22, 1869, the Senate advised and consented to the appointment of B. to be a captain, vice A. resigned.

Held:

1. That A., by voluntarily placing his resignation, without date, in the hands of his commanding officer, authorized him, upon his (A.) becoming again intoxicated, to insert a proper date in such resignation and forward it for acceptance.

2. That A.'s office became vacant upon his receipt of the notification of the acceptance by the President of the resignation.

3. That the action of the President revoking such acceptance did not restore A. to the service.

Page 97 U. S. 427

This was a suit brought Sept. 2, 1873, in the Court of Claims, by Bernard P. Mimmack against the United States to recover pay and allowances as a captain in the army to that date from Dec. 11, 1868, amounting to $9,344.29. The court found the following facts:

That in May, 1868, the petitioner, said Mimmack, was a captain of the thirtieth regiment of infantry, and brevet-major, on duty at Fort Sidney, which was under the command of General Potter.

Previous to the 10th of May, charges, with specifications of drunkenness on duty, &c., were preferred against the petitioner, and he then said that, on condition the charges should not be acted upon, he would place his resignation in the hands of General Potter, to be held by him, and not forwarded to the War Department if he should entirely abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors, and on the 10th of May the petitioner enclosed his resignation to General Potter in a letter, stating that the resignation was without date and authorizing General Potter to place it in General Augur's hands, to forward to the War Department should he, the petitioner, ever become intoxicated again. General Potter sent the resignation and letter of the petitioner to General Augur and informed him of the understanding had with the petitioner as above stated.

Previous to Oct. 3, 1868, the petitioner having been again intoxicated on duty and by excessive drunkenness confined to his bed in a state bordering on delirium tremens, General Potter placed him under arrest and ordered him to turn over the company's property in his hands. By letter, dated Oct. 3, 1868, General Potter informed General Augur that the petitioner had again broke out drinking hard, and that he had placed him under arrest and ordered him to turn over the company property.

On the 5th of October, General Augur forwarded the petitioner's resignation, with the date filled up "Oct. 5, 1868," to the War Department. This date was not filled up by the petitioner, nor was he informed of the communication by General Potter, nor of the fact that his resignation was to be forwarded to the War Department.

Page 97 U. S. 428

On the 29th of that month, the resignation was accepted by the President, to take effect from that date, and notice of the acceptance was sent to the petitioner, who received it Nov. 8. It was not shown that the President, at the time of accepting it, had been informed of the manner in which it had been lodged with General Potter or of the fact that the date had been filled in by a third person, or of any of the circumstances connected with the resignation.

On the 18th of November, the President promoted First Lieutenant Appleton D. Palmer to be "captain in the thirtieth regiment of infantry," "vice Mimmack, resigned," and notice thereof was sent by letter to Captain Palmer of that date, but he was not then commissioned.

On the 8th of December, the name of First Lieutenant Palmer was placed on the list of nominations made by the President to be sent to the Senate.

On the 11th of December, the President, on the petitioner's application, revoked the acceptance of the resignation, and ordered him to duty, and notice thereof was given to the Secretary of War.

On the 12th of December, a report was made to the President of the facts of the case by the War Department, and on the 24th the report was returned to the Secretary of War by the President for action under the order of Dec. 11.

The report and the direction of the President were referred to the General of the Army, who requested that, before an order was issued, the opinion of the Attorney General might be obtained as to the legality of the President's revocation of his acceptance of the petitioner's resignation.

On the 30th of December, by the direction of the President, the name of First Lieutenant Palmer was stricken from the list of nominations made by the President to be sent to the Senate, and the Secretary of War was notified thereof.

On the 4th of January, 1869, the case of the petitioner, with the papers relating thereto, was submitted by the Secretary of War to the Attorney General, who, on the 4th of February, gave his opinion that the President's revocation of his acceptance of the petitioner's resignation had not the effect of restoring him to his former position in the military service.

Page 97 U. S. 429

On the 13th of February, the opinion of the Attorney General and the papers containing the President's order were sent to the General of the Army, and he declined to permit his name to be used in promulgating the order, as in his opinion it was illegal, and he was sustained in that by the opinion of the Attorney General.

On March 11, 1869, President Grant nominated First Lieutenant Palmer to the Senate to be "captain, Oct. 29, 1868, vice Mimmack, resigned." The nomination was not acted upon. By letter of May 4, 1869, he was notified of his promotion by letter.

On the 6th of the following December, the President renominated Lieutenant Palmer to be "captain, Oct. 29, 1868, vice Mimmack, resigned," and the Senate, on the 22d of that month, advised and consented to the appointment, agreeably to the nomination.

On the 19th of February, 1869, the petitioner enlisted in the marine corps, and served therein until the 27th of August, when he was transferred to the United States ship Lancaster, and served as clerk, and then secretary to the commanders of squadrons, until May 22, 1872, and in the time specified he received as pay $2,344.09.

On the 2d of November, 1872, the petitioner was appointed a clerk in the Second Auditor's office, and served therein till Aug. 16, 1873, when he was appointed a clerk in the Fourth Auditor's office; and up to June 30, 1874, he had received pay as clerk as aforesaid to the amount of $2,082.49.

The Court of Claims dismissed the petition, and found as a conclusion of law that the revocation by the President of his acceptance of Mimmack's resignation, after notice to him of such acceptance, did not restore the petitioner to his post in the army.

Judgment having been rendered, Mimmack appealed here.

Page 97 U. S. 432

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