Commercial Bank of Manchester v. Buckner
THIS was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the eastern district of Louisiana.
It was a bill filed by the bank upon the equity side of the Circuit Court, against Buckner, under the circumstances fully detailed in the opinion of the court.
It was argued by Mr. Day for the appellant, and by Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Bayard for the appellee.
Mr. Day filed an elaborate printed argument, consisting of more than one hundred pages. Of the several points of the case included in this argument, it is necessary to omit the discussion of the following propositions, viz:
1. Are the charges of fraud sufficient to invalidate the discharge in bankruptcy?
2. The equity side of the court has jurisdiction over the case, upon the ground of its general jurisdiction over frauds.
3. Whether the case made by the bill is of such a nature and character as to give equity jurisdiction.
4. Nor does the fact that the fraud from which relief was sought, is fraud in obtaining a judgment in discharge in bankruptcy, at all militate or vest the chancellor of jurisdiction.
Mr. Day then sustained the right of the Circuit Court to interpose in this case, upon the ground that the discharge in bankruptcy should be treated as a nullity.
True, a court of equity does not presume to direct or control a court of law; but, it considers all the equities between the parties, and acts upon the persons of the party seeking against good conscience to avail himself of an advantage which, under all the equitable circumstances of the case, it is against conscience for him so to do, and restrains or deprives him of such advantage. (20 Conn. R., 556; 2 St. Eq., secs. 875, 194; 1 Atk., 630; 1 Sch. and Lef., 205-'6; 2 P. Wm., 424; 2 Ves. jun., 135; 3 P. W., 395.)
And so, even at law, (notwithstanding the general rule that no court, except an appellate one, has authority or power to set aside the judgment of another court of competent jurisdiction, for error or irregularity,) where the main object, as in this case, is not to annul the judgment of another court, but simply to avoid the effect of such judgment when it is set up as a bar, by replying that it was obtained by fraud, the party has a right to show, in any court, that the judgment was obtained by fraud and imposition, and thus indirectly to treat it as a nullity. (2 La. R., 139-'40; 11 ib., 521; 25 Vt. R., 339; 2 Kernan's R., 165, and auth. cited; 3 Cranch's R., 300, 307-'8, 310-' 11; 3 Foster's N. H. R., 535; 3 Sum., 604; Shedden v. Patrick, 28 Eng. L. and Eq. R., 56, and the numerous cases cited by counsel on page 60; 72 Eng. C. L., 513; 15 J. R., 121; 6 Pet., 729-'30; Don v. Lipman, 5 Clark and Finn. R., 1, 20, 21; St. Conf. L., sec. 603.)
For if such be not the law, then a party would be allowed to profit by his own fraud, 'a position altogether inadmissible.' (Per Thompson, C. J., in Borden v. Fitch, 15 J. R., 121.)