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Gregg v. Moss/Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

81 U.S. 564

Gregg  v.  Moss

This cause has been submitted to us on printed arguments on each side, with replies and counter-replies, none of which contains any regular assignment of errors, as required by the twenty-first rule of this court. The record presents a bill of exceptions of thirty printed pages of testimony, which is certified to be all that was given on the trial, and the arguments address themselves to the entire merits on this evidence.

We have felt very much inclined to dismiss the writ of error or affirm the judgment without an attempt to look up the questions of law which might possibly be involved in the record, for the number of cases coming to this court in which the bill of exceptions embodies all the evidence offered, and counsel, tempted by this, argue before us the whole case as if the verdict concluded nothing, requires a decisive remedy.

As far as we are able to see there are but two questions of law raised by the record.

The first relates to the exclusion of a single item of evidence offered by the plaintiff, and the second to the charge of the court.

The plaintiff having proved the signatures to the letter of December 23d, 1856, and that the sum mentioned in it was received by Mr. Kellogg, offered in the further progress of his case to prove by a competent witness that only a few minutes after Kellogg had obtained the money he told the witness that he had received the money from the plaintiff, and had 'fixed Elder off,' and that Elder had gone home. The exclusion of this testimony is the occasion of the first bill of exception.

We have a learned argument on the vexed question of the admissibility of the declarations of one partner, or joint obligor, against the other. But we are of opinion that the ruling of the court presents no error which should reverse the judgment, because its rejection worked no harm to the plaintiff. The execution of the paper was not denied, nor was it controverted, except by the general form of the pleading, that Kellogg had received the money. It had already been proved by several other witnesses and was at no time made a point in the case. The whole controversy before the jury turned on the question whether the money so received was advanced by Gregg on the credit of Kellogg and Moss alone, and if so, whether he had afterwards agreed to convert it into capital. The admission of Kellogg that he had received the money from Gregg gave no light on either of these questions. The judgment should not be reversed for the rejection of this testimony, whether it was in strict legal principle admissible or not.

The brief of the plaintiff proceeds to argue that the evidence before the jury does not sustain either of the allegations of advancing the money to the partnership, or the agreement of the plaintiff to convert it into capital of the partnership. With this we can have nothing to do. It was the province of the jury to determine whether either of these allegations was proved, for either of them was a valid defence to this action, and they have found in favor of defendant.

It is argued, however, that the instructions of the court on this branch of the subject were erroneous-to the prejudice of the plaintiff.

We have examined carefully the points of the charge objected to as well as the other parts of it, and, without elaborating the matter, we are of opinion that it puts this, the turning-point of the case, to the jury on fair grounds, and we can see no objection to the legal propositions stated by the court and excepted to by counsel.



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).