Biddle v. Wilkins,
26 U.S. 686 (1828)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Biddle v. Wilkins, 26 U.S. 1 Pet. 686 686 (1828)

Biddle v. Wilkins

26 U.S. (1 Pet.) 686


The plaintiff, as administrator of W., had brought a suit in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Pennsylvania and recovered a judgment. He instituted a suit in the District Court of the United States of the State of Mississippi against the defendant in the original suit. The defendant pleaded that by the Orphans' Court of Adams County in the State of Mississippi, where the defendant resided, he had been appointed the administrator of W. and had continued to act in that capacity. Held that the debt due upon the judgment obtained in Pennsylvania by the plaintiff as administrator of W. was due to him in his personal capacity, and it was immaterial whether the defendant was or was not administrator of W. in the State of Mississippi. That would not in any manner affect the rights of the plaintiff, and the plea tenders an immaterial issue, and is bad on demurrer.

Where the court in which judgment is rendered has not jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit, or where the judgment upon which suit is brought is absolutely void, this may be pleaded in bar or may in some cases be given in evidence under the general issue in an action brought upon the judgment.

The general rule is that there can be no averment in pleading against the validity of a record, though there may be against its operation, and it is upon this ground that no matter of defense can be pleaded in such case to a suit on a judgment which existed anterior to the judgment.

It has become a settled practice in declaring in an action upon a judgment not, as formerly, to set out in the declaration the whole of the proceedings in the original suit, but only to allege generally that the plaintiff, by the consideration and judgment of that court, recovered the sum mentioned therein, the original cause of action having passed in rem judicatam.

In an action upon a judgment recovered in favor of an administrator, the plaintiff is not bound to make a profert of the letters of administration. That it is not necessary in actions upon such judgments that the plaintiff name himself as administrator follows from his not being bound to make profert of the letters of administration, and when he does so name himself, it may be rejected as surplusage.

After judgment recovered in a suit by an administrator, the debt is due to the plaintiff in his personal capacity, and he may declare that the debt is due to himself.

This was an action of debt brought in the court below upon a judgment obtained by the plaintiff as administrator against the defendant in the District Court of the United States for

Page 26 U. S. 687

the Western District of Pennsylvania. The declaration was in the common form, averring the recovery by plaintiff as administrator, &c.

The defendant pleaded three pleas in bar. 1. Ne unques administrator. 2. That in January, 1817, in the Orphans' Court of the County of Adams in the State of Mississippi, the defendant was duly appointed sole administrator, and has continued to act in that capacity. 3. That the judgment was obtained per fraudem. The plaintiff replied to the third plea, on which issue was joined, and demurred specially to the first and second, assigning as causes of demurrer:

1. The said pleas set up matter which, if true, existed anterior to the judgment on which the suit was brought, and might have been urged, if effectual at all, against the original recovery.

2. The said matters should have been pleaded in abatement, and not in bar.

3. They contain averments against the record.

4. That the matters therein contained are immaterial, and could not be set up after judgment to avoid its effect in the state from which the record came.

5. They are in other respects uncertain, informal, and insufficient.

Joinder in demurrer. The judgment of the district court was in favor of the defendant, sustaining both pleas as sufficient.

Page 26 U. S. 690

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