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United States Supreme Court

75 U.S. 491

Aldrich  v.  Aetna Company

ERROR to the Court of Appeals of New York.

The code of procedure of the State of New York [*] thus enacts: 'Parties to a question of difference, which might be the subject of a civil action, may, without action, agree upon a case containing the facts upon which the controversy depends, and present a submission of the same to any court which would have jurisdiction, if an action had been brought. But it must appear, by affidavit, that the controversy is real, and the proceeding in good faith to determine the rights of the parties. The court shall, thereupon, hear and determine the case, at a general term, and render judgment thereon, as if an action were depending.'

'The judgment may be enforced in the same manner, as if it had been rendered in an action, and shall be subject to an appeal in like manner.'

With these provisions of the code in force, the AEtna Insurance Company, as plaintiff, and one Aldrich and others, as defendants, agreed upon a case for the Superior Court of Buffalo as follows:

'Aldrich and the others sold and conveyed the schooner Stella, on the 4th of February, 1856, at Chicago, to one Jacobs, and on the same day, took a mortgage of the vessel back to secure the payment of $6000 of the purchase-money. The mortgage was in due form, and was recorded in the office of the collector, at the port of Chicago, where the vessel was permanently enrolled, and where one of her owners resided. The purchase-money was payable in sums of five hundred, and of ten hundred dollars, extending through the years 1856, 1857, and to March, 1858. Jacobs, the purchaser, who resided in Chicago, immediately took possession of the vessel, which was in port, and employed her on the lakes till attached in Buffalo by the insurance company, on the 11th December, 1856, for a debt against him.

'At the time of the execution of the mortgage, there was a statute of the State of Illinois, which enacted, that 'no mortgage on personal property shall be valid, as against the rights and interests of any third person or persons, unless possession of such personal property shall be delivered to and remain with the mortgagees, or the said mortgage be acknowledged and recorded, as hereinafter directed.' This mortgage had been neither acknowledged nor recorded, according to the requirements of this statute.'It was agreed by the parties, in settling their case, that if the decision should be in favor of the company (the plaintiffs), that judgment should be given against the defendants for $475 and interest, but if in favor of the defendants, then judgment against the plaintiff for costs.

The court at a general term at Buffalso rendered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The cause was removed to the Court of Appeals, the highest court of the State of New York, where the judgment was affirmed, and the proceedings remitted to the Superior Court at Buffalo, in which the judgment of affirmance was entered of record. The case was then brought before this court on writ of error; it being purported to be brought here under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act, which gives this court jurisdiction to review upon a writ of error judgments in the highest court of a State, where there has been drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under the United States, and the decree is against their validity; or where there is drawn in question the construction of any statute of the United States, and the decree is against the title, right, or privilege, or exemption specially set up; or where there is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under any State on the ground of their being repugnant to the laws of the United States, and the decision is in favor of such their validity;-'the citation,' says this 25th section, 'being signed by the chief justice, or judge, or chancellor of the court rendering or passing the judgment or decree complained of, or by a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.'

The writ in this case was allowed by Chief Justice Davies of the Court of Appeals of New York, and was addressed to the Superior Court of Buffalo. The citation was signed by Mr. Justice Miller of this court.


^*  §§ 372, 374.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).