Hanrick v. Neely
In error to the Circuit Court for the Western District of Texas.
This was an action of trespass, according to the local practice of Texas, to try the title to several leagues of land, in Falls County, in that State.
On the trial of the case before a jury the plaintiff proved title in one Pedro Zarsa to the lands in controversy, and gave in evidence a letter of attorney, executed in 1831, from Zarsa to McKinney, authorizing him to sell the lands or to substitute another person in his stead for that purpose. McKinney did not execute the power conferred on him, but, in 1833, delegated it to one Williamson by a letter of substitution, which was also received by the court in evidence. In further derivation of title the plaintiff offered in evidence a deed of the property made in the name of Zarsa, in 1851, by Williamson, under the substituted power, to Hanrick, the plaintiff.
It appeared, from the evidence, that Williamson, on behalf of Zarsa, had contracted to sell the several tracts of land to Hanrick, and that the sale was not completed, owing to differences concerning it, which had arisen between the parties. These differences produced litigation, in the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Texas, which resulted in the court decreeing that Williamson, on behalf of his principal, should convey to Hanrick.
This deed, offered as above stated, by the plaintiff, was rejected by the court below on the ground that as it was made and delivered in pursuance of a decree of the District Court, the decree was necessary to support the deed, and without proof of it (which was not furnished) the deed could not be read in evidence to the jury. The court also apparently based its rejection of the deed on the ground that it was delivered by the clerk to Hanrick in obedience to the decree of the court, and that therefore proof of the decree was necessary to support the delivery. There was other evidence offered, rejected, and exceptions taken, but the only point in the case which the court deemed it necessary to notice related to the ruling of the court, excepted to at the time, excluding this deed from the consideration of the jury. The main question was whether the deed was good without the decree?
Mr. W. G. Hale, for the plaintiff in error. No opposing counsel.
Mr. Justice DAVIS delivered the opinion of the court.