United States v. Reed
Annotate this Case
167 U.S. 664 (1897)
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U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Reed, 167 U.S. 664 (1897)
United States v. Reed
Argued March 10-11, 1897
Decided May 24, 1897
167 U.S. 664
The Act of June 19, 1886, c. 421, 24 Stat. 19, did not repeal the provisions of the Act of June 26, 1884, c. 121, 23 Stat. 59, as respects expenditures by shipping commissioners other than for clerks.
These were suits brought by James C. Reed, Shipping Commissioner of the United States at the port of New York, to recover, respectively, the amount expended by him for rent of office and storage rooms for his official use from March 1, 1891, to April 1, 1893, and the amount of certain expenses which he incurred between July 1, 1886, and March 1, 1891, in maintaining his office and discharging his duties, including rent of the said rooms from April 1, 1890, to March 1, 1891.
The petition in No. 189, asking judgment for the sum of $3,125, was filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York on April 7, 1893. The government filed a general answer on June 21 of the same year, and the case was referred, by consent, to a referee, who took the evidence presented by the parties and reported the same, together with his opinion, to the court. Upon the coming
in of this report, the court, on August 26, 1893, filed its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The facts stated in the findings were substantially as follows:
The petitioner assumed the duties of his office prior to July 1, 1884, and on or about August 26 of that year, the Secretary of the Treasury, pursuant to the provisions of the act of Congress entitled "An act to remove certain burdens on the American merchant marine, and encourage the American foreign carrying trade, and for other purposes," approved June 26, 1884, fixed the compensation of the petitioner at the sum of $4,000 per annum, and in addition thereto one-half of the net surplus of the receipts of his office from fees earned, less the amount of salaries and expenses paid; limiting the amount of such compensation, however, to the maximum sum of $5,000 in any one year. The petitioner continued to hold the office and discharge the duties thereof from July 1, 1884, to the date of the filing of the said findings of fact, and within the period between July 1, 1884, and April 1, 1893, no change was made in the amount of his compensation, and the same was allowed and paid him at the rate of $5,000 per year. For the time between the opening of the fiscal year commencing March 1, 1891, and April 1, 1893, the surplus earnings of the office of service fees exceeded the necessary expenses incident to the conduct of the business of the office, including the compensation of the petitioner, by the sum of $14,551.29.
From July 1, 1884, to May 20, 1886, the office of the petitioner was situated at 187 Cherry Street, in the City of New York, and the rental of the premises, together with all other expenses incident to the office of shipping commissioner, and to the discharge of the duties thereof, were paid by the United States. On or about May 20, 1886, the office was removed, by direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, from Cherry Street to the United States barge office, in the said city, a building owned by the government, and the expenses incident to the removal and to the fitting up of the petitioner's office in that building were paid by the United States.
On or about April 10, 1890, the petitioner, by direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, removed from the barge office, and
procured offices at 25 Pearl Street, and storage room for deceased seamen's effects at 19 Pearl Street at an annual rental of $1,500. Between March 1, 1891, and April 1, 1893, the petitioner incurred expenses, and was obliged to make, and did make, disbursements on account of rent of the said premises in Pearl Street amounting in the aggregate to the sum of $3,125.
The court further found that the said expenditures were incident to the office of shipping commissioner, that the said sum was a reasonable charge for the said premises, that the United States duly authorized the occupation by the petitioner of the premises, and the expenditures incurred and proposed to be incurred therefor, that the petitioner had duly demanded the said amount from the United States, and that no part thereof had been paid.
In No. 190, the petition, asking judgment for $4,035.17, was filed in the said court on March 27, 1891, and the general answer of the government on June 10, 1891. The court's findings of fact and conclusions of law were filed April 6, 1893, on which day, reference of the case having theretofore been made as in No. 189, the report of the referee was submitted.
The findings in this case were essentially similar to those in No. 189, concerning the fixing of the petitioner's compensation, his continuance in office, and his receipt of the maximum compensation during the time covered by his claim, his occupation of rooms in Cherry Street, and his removal therefrom to the barge office, and thence, on April 10, 1890, to rooms in Pearl Street, and the payment by the United States of the expenses of the office in Cherry Street, and of the removal to the barge office. The court further found that, for the period between the opening of the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1886, and March 1, 1891, the surplus earnings of the office of the petitioner of service fees exceeded the necessary expenses incident to the discharge of the duties of the office, including the compensation of the petitioner, by the sum of $24,795.01; that between July 1, 1886, and March 1, 1891, the petitioner incurred sundry expenses, and was obliged to make, and did
make, sundry disbursements, amounting in the aggregate to $4,033.71, for necessaries incident to the duties imposed upon him by statute as shipping commissioner, including rent of the said office and storage rooms in Pearl Street from April 10, 1890, to March 1, 1891, furnishing cost of removal, stationery, telephone, Maritime Register, ice, freight on blanks, safe-deposit vault, telegrams, repairs, etc.; that the said amount was a reasonable expenditure for the purposes for which it was disbursed; that reports were made monthly by the petitioner to the Secretary of the Treasury, which reports contained the items of the receipts of the office and of the expenditures incurred and proposed to be incurred; that the petitioner had demanded of the United States payment of the said sum, and that no part of the same had been paid.
The court's conclusions of law in each case were
"that the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to determine the compensation of the petitioner as shipping commissioner at the port of New York, and, having exercised such authority, the compensation of the petitioner remained as so fixed (to-wit, five thousand dollars per annum); that the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to regulate the mode of conducting the business in the shipping offices; that all expenditures made by shipping commissioners in discharge of their duties imposed upon them by the statutes of the United States or the regulations of the Treasury Department are to be audited and adjusted in the Treasury Department."
Further, as conclusions of law, the court found in No. 189 that the petitioner was entitled to have and receive from the United States the sum of $3,125, and in No.190 that he was entitled to have and receive from the United States the sum of $4,033.71. Judgment in No. 189, for the sum of $3,125, was rendered in favor of the petitioner on August 26, 1893, and in No.190, for the sum of $4,033.71, on April 6, 1893.
In each case, an appeal was taken by the government to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where on May 2, 1894, and June 4, 1894, respectively, the said judgments were affirmed. On October 5, 1894, the government appealed in each case to this Court.