The Justices v. Murray

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

76 U.S. 274

The Justices  v.  Murray

ERROR to the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York; the case being thus:

Patrie brought a suit for an assault and battery and false imprisonment against Murray and Buckley in the Supreme Court of the Third District of New York; to which the defendants pleaded the general issue, and pleaded further as a special defence that the said Murray was marshal of the Southern District of New York, and the said Buckley his deputy; and that, as such marshal, he, Murray, was, by order of the President, on or about the 28th August, 1862, directed to take the plaintiff into custody; that the said Buckley, as such deputy, was directed by him, the marshal, to execute the said order; and that, acting as such deputy, and in pursuance of his directions, he, Buckley, did, in a lawful manner, and without force or violence, take the said Patrie into custody; that during all the time he was in custody he was kept and detained in pursuance of said order of the President, and not otherwise.

In December following a writ of error was issued to the Supreme Court of the Third District, to remove the cause to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York. The writ was issued under the 5th section of an act of Congress, passed March 3d, 1863, entitled 'An act relating to Habeas Corpus, and regulating proceedings in certain cases.' The 5th section of this act provides as follows:

'If 'any suit or prosecution, civil or criminal, has been or shall be commenced in any State court, against any officer, civil or military,' . . . or 'for any arrest or imprisonment made' . . . 'at any time during the present rebellion, by virtue or under color of any authority by or under the Fresident of the United States,' . . . 'it shall' . . . 'be competent for either party, within six months after the rendition of a judgment in any such cause, by writ of error or other process, to remove the same to the Circuit Court of the United States for that district in which such judgment shall have been rendered; and the said Circuit Court shall thereupon proceed to try and determine the facts and law in such action in the same manner as if the same had been there originally commenced, the judgment in such case notwithstanding."

The State court refused to make a return to the writ of error. Thereupon an alternative mandamus was issued by the Circuit Court of the United States, to which a return was made setting forth the suit, trial, and judgment already referred to. To this there was a demurrer and joinder; and, after due consideration, the demurrer was sustained, and a judgment for a peremptory mandamus rendered. From this judgment a writ of error was taken to this court. [1]

The case was argued on two occasions, and each time with ability and care. On the first by Mr. A. J. Parker, for the plaintiffs in error, and by Mr. Evarts, then Attorney-General, contra; and at this term, by Mr. Parker again, on one side as before, and by Mr. Hoar, now Attorney-General, with Mr. Field, Assistant Attorney-General, on the other. On the second occasion the argument was confined to two questions submitted by the court:

1. Whether or not the act of Congress of March 3d, 1863, providing for the removal of a cause, after judgment by a State court, to the Circuit Court of the United States, for a new trial, is an act in pursuance of the Constitution of the United States?

2. Whether or not the provision in the seventh amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which declares that no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law, applies to the facts tried by a jury in a cause in a State court?

Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  The alternative and peremptory mandamus against the Supreme Court of New York was allowed by consent of the counsel for the defendants, with a view to present the question raised and decided in the case. The Circuit Court had refused to issue it against the court, and issued it only against the clerk. This is stated to prevent the case from being cited as an authority for the power, and without intending to express any opinion on this subject. S. N.

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).