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United States Supreme Court

88 U.S. 130

Dupasseur  v.  Rochereau

ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana; the case being thus:

Pierre Sauv e, of the city of New Orleans, being indebted to one Rochereau, of the same place, in the sum of $35,000, executed on the 26th of February, 1858, an authentic act of mortgage to him before a notary public, for the security of the debt, upon a sugar plantation in Louisiana, above New Orleans, with all the farming utensils, machinery, cattle, and slaves belonging thereto. The mortgage, shortly after its execution, was duly recorded in the proper office of the parish.

On the 15th of March, 1866, Rochereau obtained judgment against Sauv e in the Sixth District Court of New Orleans for the debt with interest and costs, with a recognition of the special mortgage.

On the 7th of June, 1866, Rochereau commenced an action in the same court against Edward Dupasseur, by a petition setting forth the said judgment and the act of mortgage, and the failure of Sauv e to pay the same, and alleging that Dupasseur had taken possession of the plantation as owner thereof, and charging that the same was bound for the debt, and that Dupasseur was bound either to pay the debt or to give up the plantation, and praying process and decree accordingly.

Dupasseur, in his answer, set up the following defence:

'That he purchased the property described in the plaintiff's petition at a sale made by the marshal of the United States, in virtue of an execution issued on a judgment rendered by the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana, in the case of Edward Dupasseur v. Pierre Sauv e, free of all mortgages and incumbrances, and especially from the alleged mortgage of the plaintiff; that the marshal's sale was made in virtue of a judgment based on and recognizing the existence of a superior privilege and special mortgage to that claimed by the said plaintiff; and that the whole of the proceeds of said sale was absorbed to satisfy the judgment in favor of this respondent, except $15,046, which are in the said marshal's hands, subject to the payment, pro tanto, of the plaintiff's mortgage.'The record of the judgment and proceedings in the United States Circuit Court, together with execution and sheriff's deed to Dupasseur, and also the original act of mortgage on which the proceedings were founded, were given in evidence. From these it appeared that Sauv e purchased the plantation in question from one Jacobs, in June, 1852; that he paid part cash, and secured the balance by five notes payable respectively in one, two, three, four, and five years, and that the payment of the notes was secured by a reservation of the vendor's lien in the act of sale by way of special mortgage, with a covenant not to alien, &c., which act was duly recorded as a special mortgage in the proper office in 1852, but was not reinscribed within ten years, and not until 1865; it being alleged, and proof being offered to show, that it was impossible, on account of the prevalence of the war, to have the reinscription made within the proper time. The last note of $29,000 was not paid, and suit was brought upon it against Sauv e by Jacobs, the then holder, in October, 1858, in the Third Judicial District Court of Louisiana for Jefferson Parish, and on the 21st of November, 1859, judgment was rendered for the amount, recognizing priority of the mortgage on the plantation, and an order made for paying the money into court. On the 5th of April, 1861, Sauv e borrowed $37,011 of Dupasseur, the defendant, to pay this judgment, and gave him a new note for that amount, and Dupasseur was, by a notarial act, subrogated to the rights of Jacobs in the judgment and mortgage.

On the 1st of December, 1863, Dupasseur & Co., citizens of France, in right of Dupasseur, filed a petition in the Circuit Court of the United States for a sequestration of the crops, that Sauv e might be cited to appear and answer, and for judgment for $37,011 (the amount of the previous jdugment), with interest and costs, to be paid by right of special mortgage and with vendor's lien and privilege, before all other creditors, and for sale, &c. No one was made a party to this suit except Pierre Sauv e. On the 23d of February, 1865, judgment was rendered in this case, to the effect that Dupasseur recover from Sauv e the amount sued for, with vendor's lien and privilege upon the plantation in question; and an execution was issued thereon, by virtue of which the marshal, on the 5th of May, 1866, sold the property to Dupasseur for $64,151, being $15,046 more than sufficient to satisfy his claim. The balance was paid to the marshal, and by him paid into the Circuit Court of the United States, to be disposed of according to law.

In the suit first abovementioned-the one brought in the Sixth District Court of New Orleans by Rochereau against Dupasseur, and to which Dupasseur set up the defence just abovementioned-judgment was finally given for Rochereau on the 28th of January, 1868, and was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Louisiana on the 28th of April, 1868. The judgment of the Supreme Court was now brought here by the present writ of error. Dupasseur, the now plaintiff in error, alleging as a ground of bringing the case here, that the State court decided against the validity of a judicial decision in his favor made by the Circuit Court of the United States on the very question at issue in this action, which decision was set up and relied on by him in his defence; and, therefore, that the case came within the terms of the second section of the act of February 5th, 1867 [1] (section 709, Revised Statutes of the United States), replacing the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, [2] which enacts among other things that a writ of error from this court will lie to the highest court of the State in which a decision in the suit could be had—

'Where any title, right, privilege, or immunity is claimed under the Constitution, or any treaty or statute of or commission held, or authority exercised under the United States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege, or immunity specially set up or claimed under such Constitution, treaty, statute, commission or authority.'

Two questions were thus raised by Dupasseur in this court:1st. Whether this court had jurisdiction under the act of 1867, already mentioned, to hear the case?

2d. Did the State court refuse to give validity and effect to the judgment of the Circuit Court of the United States in favor of Dupasseur?

Mr. A. C. Story, for the plaintiff in error; Messrs. E. and A. C. Janin (with whom was Mr. Charles Andrew Johnson), contra.

Mr. Justice BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  14 Stat. at Large, 385.

^2  See the section, 20 Wallace, 592, 593, right-hand column.

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).