French v. Hay (89 U.S. 250)

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

89 U.S. 250

French  v.  Hay (89 U.S. 250)

THE present case was thus:

On the 3d of February, 1870, that is to say, six weeks after the decree for $2389 (leaving the matter of furniture open), for rents mentioned in the former case [1] as having been given, 23d of December, 1869, in the County Court of Alexandria, in favor of James French, the trustee, against Alexander Hay, the said French sent a transcript of the decree to Philadelphia, the place of Hay's residence, and sued Hay on it, in one of the local courts there. Hay had, two days before the transcript was sued on, that is to say on the 1st of February, 1870, made the affidavits requisite to remove the case into the Circuit Court of the United States under the act of Congress; though the case was not yet actually removed, nor indeed removed until the 12th following.

On the transcript just mentioned, from the State court, French got a judgment against Hay, in the local court at Philadelphia, March 21st, 1871; and Hay at once [2] took the case on error to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where he had it now pending.

Before the other side could get that court to proceed in the case, Hay [3] filed a bill-the present bill-in the court below-the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Virginia-into which he had, before this time and with a view of vacating all that had been done there, removed the case from the County Court of Alexandria, in which French as trustee had got the decree against him for rents, and was about proceeding for the furniture. And in his said now bill prayed for and at once obtained, a preliminary injunction to restrain French from proceeding further in Pennsylvania or elsewhere to collect his decree in the County Court of Alexandria on the transcript. And the said Circuit Court having at a later date [4] annulled that decree and dismissed the bill on which it was founded (a course of action which this court in the last preceding case approved and affirmed) proceeded now, [5] after answer put in and testimony taken, to make perpetual the preliminary injunction which it had previously granted restraining French from suing in Pennsylvania or elsewhere on the transcript of the decree so ultimately, with the affirmance of this court, annulled as aforesaid.

From this its action French took this appeal.

Mr. W. W. Willoughby, for the appellant:

1. When the case of French, Trustee, v. Hay et al. was removed from the Alexandria County Court into the Circuit Court of the United States, Hay, if he meant to restrain the use of the transcript, could have filed a cross-bill; and that would have been the proper way. What we now have is an original bill, asking the Circuit Court of the United States for Virginia to take jurisdiction of things in the State of Pennsylvania. This sort of bill was unallowable.

2. But there was a graver objection to the decree from which we appeal. Its effect is to restrain the proceedings of a State court. The Circuit Court of the United States for Virginia is asked to and does restrain the party from prosecuting a suit or enforcing a judgment which he has in the court of the State of Pennsylvania. Now, the Judiciary Act enacts: [6]

'Nor shall a writ of injunction be granted to stay proceedings in any court of a State.'

It is of no pertinence to argue that though the court itself could not be enjoined, yet that a party suing in it may be. This would do indirectly what the statute says shall not be done at all. In Peck v. Jenness [7] the court say:

'The fact that injunction issues only to the parties before the court, and not to the court, is no evasion of the difficulties that are a necessary result of an attempt to exercise that power over a party who is a litigant in another independent forum.'

Even though a State court might enjoin a party from using or enforcing a judgment in another State, the Federal court cannot enjoin proceedings in any State court. The act of Congress has no effect upon the State court, but it has upon a Federal court, and says such court shall not enjoin proceedings in a State court.

Messrs. H. H. Wells and G. W. Paschall, contra.

Mr. Justice SWAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  Supra, p. 243, towards the bottom of the page.

^2  April 5th, 1871.

^3  June 1st, 1871.

^4  October 22d, 1872.

^5  January 11th, 1873.

^6  1 Stat. at Large, 334.

^7  7 Howard, 625.

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).