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United States Supreme Court

113 U.S. 713


This is an application on the part of Clinton B. Fisk for a writ of habeas corpus, to be directed to the marshal of the Southern district of New York, in whose custody the petitioner is held under an order of the circuit court for that district. The history of the case which resulted in this order, so far as it is necessary to the decision of the matter before us, may be briefly stated as follows: Francis B. Fogg brought suit in the supreme court of the state of New York against Fisk to recover the sum of $63,250, on the allegation of false and fraudulent representations made by Fisk in the sale of certain mining stocks. In the progress of the suit, and before the trial, the plaintiff obtained from the court the following order: 'Ordered, that the defendant, Clinton B. Fisk, be examined and his testimony and deposition taken as a party before trial, pursuant to sections 870, 871, 872, 873, etc., of the Code of Civil Procedure, and that for such purpose he personally be and attend before the undersigned, a justice of this court, at the chambers thereof, to be held in the new county court-house, in the said city of New York, on the thirty-first day of January, 1883, at 11 o'clock in the forenoon of that day.' A motion to vacate this order was overruled, and the judgment finally affirmed by the court of appeals. Thereupon the defendant appeared before the court and submitted to a partial examination, answering some questions and objecting to others, until, pending one of the adjournments of the examination, he procured an order removing the case to the circuit court of the United States. In that court an order was made to continue the examination before a master, to whom the matter was referred. The defendant refusing to be sworn and declining to be examined, he was brought before the circuit court on an application for attachment for a contempt in refusing to obey the order.

Without disposing of this motion, the circuit court made another order, to-wit: 'It is hereby ordered and adjudged that the motion to punish the said defendant for such contempt stand adjourned to the next motion day of this court, to-wit, on the twenty-eighth day of March, 1884. It is further ordered that the defendant Clinton B. Fisk, be, and he is hereby, directed and required to attend personally on the fourteenth day of March, 1884, before the Honorable ADDISON BROWN, one of the judges of this court, at a stated term thereof, at his chambers in the post-office building, in said city of New York, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon of that day; then and there, and on such other days as may be designated, to be examined, and his testimony and deposition taken, and continued as a party before trial, pursuant to section 870 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure, and for the purposes mentioned in said order of January 12, 1883, and February 12, 1884, heretofore made in this action.' The defendant appeared before the court in pursuance of this order, and, stating that he was advised by counsel that the court had no jurisdiction to require him to answer in this manner to the questions propounded to him by the counsel for plaintiff, he refused to do so. For this, on further proceeding, he was held by the court to be in contempt, and fined $500, and committed to the custody of the marshal until it was paid. It is to be relieved of this imprisonment that he prays here the writ of habeas corpus.

Wheeler H. Peckham, for petitioner.

John R. Dos Passos, for respondent.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 715-718 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Justice Miller delivered the opinion of the court. He stated the facts as above recited, and continued:


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).