Phoenix Bank v. Risley,
111 U.S. 125 (1844)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Phoenix Bank v. Risley, 111 U.S. 125 (1884)

Phoenix Bank v. Risley

Argued March 13-14, 1884

Decided March 24, 1844

111 U.S. 125


The rule that the relation between a bank and its general depositors is that of debtor and creditor, which was laid down in Marine Bank v. Fulton Bank, 2 Wall. 252, is affirmed and applied to deposits arising from collections on behalf of another bank, a correspondent.

A proceeding under the Confiscation Acts of August 6, 1861, 12 Stat. 319, and July 17th, 1862, 12 Stat. 589, for the purpose of confiscating a general deposit in a bank, which was directed against a specific lot of money, and a condemnation and sale under such proceedings, and a payment by the bank to the purchaser at the sale, are no defense to the bank in a suit by an assignee of the depositor for valuable consideration, claiming under an assignment made before the proceedings in confiscation.

The Confiscation Act of August 6, 1881, was directed to the confiscation of specific property used with the consent of the owner to aid the insurrection and, had no reference to the guilt of the owner, and could only apply to visible tangible property which had been so used.

The 37th Admiralty Rule, in force before the passage of the Confiscation Acts, provided a mode for attaching a debt in proceedings for its confiscation by giving notice to the debtor of the proceedings to charge the debtor with the debt and require him to pay it to the marshal or into court, and in the absence of such notice, the district court could obtain no jurisdiction over the debt and could make no condemnation of it which would constitute a defense in an action by an assignee of the debt for a valuable consideration made before the proceedings in confiscation.

At the outbreak of the war, the plaintiff in error was the correspondent in New York of the Bank of Georgetown in South Carolina, and had about $12,000 on deposit to the credit of the latter. On the 20th May, 1861, the Bank of Georgetown sold and assigned to the defendant in error $10,000 of this deposit. On the 4th January, 1864, the defendant in error demanded payment of the $10,000 of the plaintiff in error in New York. On the 5th January, 1864, proceedings were commenced for confiscating the deposit. The nature of these proceedings are described in the opinion of the Court. They resulted in a decree of confiscation and payment of the money by the Phoenix Bank to the purchaser at the sale under condemnation.

Page 111 U. S. 126

Risley then sued in the court of New York to recover the $10,000, and judgment was finally given against the bank in the Court of Appeals of New York on the ground that the confiscation proceedings were void. This writ of error was sued out to reverse that judgment.

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