United States v. Sixty-Seven Packages of Dry Goods,
58 U.S. 85 (1854)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Sixty-Seven Packages of Dry Goods, 58 U.S. 17 How. 85 85 (1854)

United States v. Sixty-Seven Packages of Dry Goods

58 U.S. (17 How.) 85


The 66th section of the Act of 1799, 1 Stat. 677, ch. 22, which declares that

"If any goods, wares, or merchandise, of which entry shall have been made in the office of a collector, shall not be invoiced according to the actual cost thereof, at the place of exportation, with design to evade the duties thereupon or any part thereof, all such goods &c., or the value thereof, to be recovered of the person making

Page 58 U. S. 86

the entry, shall be forfeited,"

has not been repealed by any provision in the act of 1842, or in any of the duty acts, but still exists in full force and effect.

A libel of information was filed in the district court by the collector of the port of New Orleans, on behalf of himself and the United States, for the condemnation and forfeiture of sixty-seven packages of goods on account of an alleged fraud upon the revenue, charging, among other things, in the information that the goods were entered at the custom house upon the production of an invoice in which they were invoiced at a less sum than the actual cost thereof at the place of exportation with a design to evade the duties.

Jules Levois, of New Orleans, filed a claim to the goods, and the cause came up for trial in March, 1850, when the jury, under the instructions of the court, found a verdict for the claimant.

A bill of exceptions was taken by Mr. Hunton, district attorney of the United States, which, being short, is here inserted, as follows:

"Be it remembered, that on the trial of this cause the plaintiff offered in evidence the following documents, numbered as follows:"

No. 1. Warehouse entry of five packages with extract invoice.

No. 2. Import entry of sixty-two packages.

No. 3. Report of United States appraisers.

No. 4. United States appraiser's valuation.

No. 5. Merchant appraiser's _____ do.

No. 6. Copy of interrogatories propounded by appraisers to P. D. Duval.

No. 7. Call for letters.

No. 8. Call for reply to interrogatories.

No. 9. Letter from Mr. Duval to United States appraisers.

No. 10. Paper found by appraisers in case No. 81.

No. 11. Invoice in which the entries were made.

The following witnesses were introduced:

R. J. Canfield, who stated that he was one of the appraisers in the custom house of New Orleans, proved the several documents offered in evidence; that P. D. Duval, the partner or agent of claimant, made the entry at the custom house; his refusal to answer the interrogatories propounded; stated that from his experience as appraiser, he was familiar with the valuation and cost of such goods as were contained in the invoice on which the entries were made; stated that the goods were invoiced at less than the actual cost, as he believed, and at less

Page 58 U. S. 87

than their actual value in the foreign market from whence they were imported, to the extent shown by the valuation offered in evidence; that he had made a particular examination of the several packages seized. He proved that the paper marked No. 10 was found by the appraisers, in case No. 81, and that the same articles contained in that paper were invoiced at ___.

Philip Simms, A. Duthel, E. D. Hyde, Mr. Letchford, were also introduced as witnesses on the part of the United States, all of whom were importing merchants in the City of New Orleans, and had imported like goods as those seized, from Liverpool, about the same time; some had received importations by the same ship that brought out those in controversy; all of them confirmed the merchants' valuation, as shown in paper No. 5, and concurred in saying that the said goods were invoiced at least twenty-five percentum lower than actual cost or value in the foreign market. It was proven that cotton goods had advanced during the spring and summer of 1849. Mr. Rifflard said, that all of the goods in the invoice were invoiced at less than the actual value; some of them, however, not more than ten or fifteen percentum, in his judgment. And thereupon the court instructed the jury as follows, namely:

"1. That the 66th section of the Act of Congress of the 2d March, 1799, insofar as it imposes the penalty of forfeiture of any goods, wares, and merchandise, of which entry shall have been made in the office of a collector, and which shall not be invoiced according to the actual cost thereof, is inconsistent with and repugnant to the 13th and 15th sections of the Act of 1 March, 1823, imposing a penalty of additional duties on goods entered under fraudulent invoice, and insofar as said inconsistency and repugnancy existed, the said act of 1799 was repealed by said act of 1823."

"2. That the said 66th section of the Act of Congress of 2 March, 1799, was, to the same extent as aforesaid, repugnant to and inconsistent with the 17th section of the Act of 30 August, 1842, and is to the same extent repealed by said act of 1842."

"3. That the proceedings directed and authorized by the 17th section of the act of 1843, having been proved by the United States to have taken place against the merchandise therein alleged to be forfeited to the government, it was the duty of the collector to have levied and collected the additional duty which, by said 17th section, is imposed as a penalty on goods which shall be appraised, estimated, and ascertained to exceed the invoice value; that said penalty is inconsistent with and repugnant to the penalty of forfeitures, as imposed by any preceding law of Congress; that the said section of said act of 1842

Page 58 U. S. 88

and the other sections of said last-named act do, by implication, repeal all previous provisions of all acts of Congress imposing the penalty of forfeiture of merchandise which is falsely valued in an invoice, or of which the actual cost has not been stated in the invoice under which their entry is made."

"And also instructed the jury that there was at present no law in force authorizing the forfeiture of the said goods for the causes set forth in the libel. To which instructions and charge the United States, by their attorney, except and pray that this bill may be signed, sealed, and entered of record; which is done."

"[Signed] THEO. H. McCALEB [Seal]"

"United States Judge"

In May, 1853, the cause came on for trial before the circuit court of the United States, when the judgment of the district court was affirmed.

A writ of error brought the case up to this Court.

Page 58 U. S. 90

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