1. The district court of the U.S. for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania has jurisdiction over the claim of a pilot appointed
under the laws of Delaware for fees when the vessel is seized
within the jurisdiction of the court, and properly brought before
2. Where the evident purpose of an application for a writ of
prohibition is the correction of a supposed error in a judgment on
the merits, the court will not grant the writ.
The State of Pennsylvania, by the Act of 8th June, 1881, sec. 5,
enacted that every vessel which is not spoken by a pilot outside of
a straight line drawn between the capes of the Delaware shall
"exempt from the duty of taking a pilot on her voyage inward to
the port of Philadelphia, and the vessel, as well as her master,
owner, agent, or consignee, shall be exempt from the duty of paying
pilotage, or half pilotage, or any penalty whatsoever, in case of
her neglect or refusal so to do."
The State of Delaware, by the Act of 5th April, 1881, made it
compulsory upon every vessel, except such as are solely coal laden,
"passing in or out of the Delaware Bay by the way of Cape Henlopen"
to receive a pilot. The vessel in this case did pass in by the way
of Cape Henlopen, and was spoken by a Delaware pilot after she had
entered the Capes. A Delaware pilot tendered his services to the
incoming vessel within the exempted district bound for
Philadelphia. The services being refused, the vessel was libeled in
the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania to recover the legal fees for them. The claim was
resisted on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction. The
court allowed the claim, whereupon the Attorney General of the
State of Pennsylvania applied to this Court for a writ of
prohibition to the court below, directing it to refrain from any
further proceedings in the case.
Page 109 U. S. 175
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
We are unable to distinguish this case in principle from Ex
Parte Hagar, 104 U. S. 520
where it was held, on the authority of Ex Parte Gordon,
104 U. S. 515
that as the admiralty court had jurisdiction of the vessel sued,
and the subject matter of the suit, it could not be restrained by a
writ of prohibition from deciding all questions properly arising in
that suit. This, like that, is a suit for pilotage fees, and the
question is whether
Page 109 U. S. 176
a statute of Delaware under which the fees are claimed is valid.
If valid in Delaware, it is in Pennsylvania, and the court sitting
in Pennsylvania is as competent to decide that question in a suit
of which it has jurisdiction as a court in Delaware. The
jurisdiction of the court in Pennsylvania is no more dependent on
the validity of the law than was that of the court in Delaware. The
subject matter of the suit is a claim of a Delaware pilot for his
pilotage fees under a Delaware statute, and the sole question in
the case is whether the fees are recoverable. The vessel when
seized was confessedly within the jurisdiction of the court in
Pennsylvania, and she was properly brought into court to answer the
claim which was made upon her. About that there is no dispute, as
there was at the last term in Devoe Manufacturing Company,
108 U. S. 401
where the question was as to the right of the court in New Jersey
to send its process to the place where the seizure was made. There,
the question was as to the jurisdiction of the court over a
particular place; here, as to the liability of a vessel confessedly
seized within the territorial jurisdiction of the court upon a
claim subject to judicial determination in an admiralty proceeding.
The evident purpose of this application is to correct a supposed
error in a judgment of an admiralty court on the merits of an
action. That cannot be done by prohibition. The remedy, if any, is
by appeal. If an appeal will not lie, then the parties are
concluded by what has been done. Congress alone has the power to
determine whether the judgment of a court of the United States of
competent jurisdiction shall be reviewed or not. If it fails to
provide for such a review. the judgment stands as the judgment of
the court of last resort, and settles finally the rights of the
parties which are involved.
The petition is dismissed.