Norris v. Jackson

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

76 U.S. 125

Norris  v.  Jackson

IN error to the Circuit Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the case being this:

By section 4 of the act of March 3d, 1865, [*] it is provided that parties may submit the issues of fact in civil cases, to be tried and determined by the court, without the intervention of a jury; and it declares what the effect of such finding shall be, and how and under what circumstances there may be a review of such judgments.

The language of the section on this subject is thus:

'The finding of the court upon the facts, which finding shall be general or special, shall have the same effect as the verdict of a jury. The rulings of the court in the cause, in the progress of the trial, when excepted to at the time, may be reviewed by the Supreme Court of the United States upon a writ of error, or upon appeal, provided the rulings be duly presented by a bill of exceptions. When the finding is special, the review may also extend to the determination of the sufficiency of the facts found to support the judgment.'

With this statute in force, Norris brought ejectment in the court below against Jackson, submitting the case to the court without the intervention of a jury. Both parties derived title from one Woodruff; the plaintiff by judicial sale, the defendant as tenant of one Gitchell, to whom Woodruff had sold the lands bon a fide some time before the judicial sale. This judicial sale, under which the plaintiff claimed, was made eleven days after the lien of the judgment on which the execution issued had expired, and this fact made it, under the statutes of Illinois, as the defendant contended, a nullity.

To counteract the effect of this too long delay, the plaintiff in the progress of the trial offered to prove that after the levy of the execution on the land in question, Gitchell, the landlord of the defendant Jackson, and the real party in interest, had agreed to pay the judgment, and had requested and obtained, from the attorney holding the same for collection, a delay of the sale of the land so levied on for fifteen or more days, when he refused to make payment as he had agreed to do, whereby the marshal's sale of said land was necessarily deferred till eleven days after the lien had expired.

The court rejected the evidence, and judgment having been given for the defendant, the plaintiff brought the case here. On its coming up, the transcript showed a long bill of exceptions, embracing all the evidence, which consisted of judgments, executions, deeds, depositions, admissions, and agreements of the parties, at the close of which it was said that 'the foregoing was all the cause, and the court thereupon found the issues and rendered judgment for the defendant, to which decision and ruling of he court, the plaintiff then and there excepted.'Mr. A. F. Miller, for the plaintiff, both below and here, insisting particularly as error upon the rejection of the evidence which had been offered to show the cause of the delay, rested his case in part upon other matter embraced in the bill of exceptions.

Mr. S. W. Fuller, contra, argued that the attention of the court was confined to a single point.

Mr. Justice MILLER delivered the opinion of the court.


^*  13 Stat. at Large, 501.

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).