United States v. Wiley
Annotate this Case
78 U.S. 508 (1870)
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U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Wiley, 78 U.S. 11 Wall. 508 508 (1870)
United States v. Wiley
78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 508
1. The effect of the rebellion was to suspend the running of statutes of limitations during its continuance, as well in regard to the claims of the government against its own citizens resident in the rebellious states as to the claims by citizens of the loyal states against that same class of persons. The doctrine of Hanger v. Abbott, 6 Wall. 532, and The Protector, 9 Wall. 687, which was applied to the latter case, affirmed and applied to the former.
2. This general rule was not changed by the Act of Congress of June 11, 1864, 13 Stat. at Large 123, relative to the limitation of certain actions. On the contrary, that statute requires all the time to be deducted during which the suit could not be prosecuted by reason of resistance to the laws or interruption of judicial proceedings, whether such time was before or after its passage. Stewart v. Kahn, supra, 78 U. S. 493, affirmed.
Error to the Circuit Court for the District of Virginia, the suit below being one by the United States against J. F. Wiley, former Marshal of the Eastern District of the state just named, upon his official bond. The case was this:
A statute of April 10, 1806, [Footnote 1] "relating to bonds given by marshals," enacts by its second section that it shall be lawful in case of a breach of condition, "for any person, persons, or body politic thereby injured, to institute a suit." A fourth section enacts:
"That all suits on marshals' bonds . . . shall be commenced and prosecuted within six years after the right of action shall have accrued, saving nevertheless the rights of infants, feme coverts, and persons non compos mentis so that they sue within three years after their disabilities are removed."
In 1861, the Southern rebellion broke out. The present cause of action arose in the previous year.
Four years or more afterwards -- that is to say on the 11th of June, 1864, [Footnote 2] Congress passed an act enacting:
"That whenever, during the existence of the present rebellion, any action, civil or criminal, shall accrue against any person,
who, by reason of resistance to the execution of the laws of the United States, or the interruption of the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, cannot be served with process for the commencement of said action:"
"Or the arrest of such person; or whenever, after such action shall have accrued, such person cannot, by reason of such resistance to the execution of the laws of the United States, or such interruption of the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, be arrested, or served with process for the commencement of the action:"
"The time during which such person shall so be beyond the reach of legal process, shall not be deemed or taken as any part of the time limited by law for the commencement of the action."
On the 15th of February, 1869, about nine years after the cause of action arose, this suit was brought. The defendant pleaded the statute of April 10, 1806. A general replication was put in, with leave to offer in evidence all matters which might have been replied specially. It was agreed of record,
"that, from the 24th day of May, 1861, to the 24th day of May, 1865, the defendants were actual residents of the State of Virginia, and that during the whole of that period, by reason of resistance to the execution of the laws of the United States and the interruption of the ordinary course of judicial proceedings in the State of Virginia, the defendants could not be served with process for the commencement of this action."
The court below gave judgment for the marshal, and the United States brought the case here.