Open main menu

United States v. 422 Casks of Wine

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

26 U.S. 547

United States  v.  422 Casks of Wine

ERROR to the District Court of E. Louisiana.

This case was before this Court, at February Term 1823, and is reported in 8 Wheat. 391, under the name of the Sarah. The cause having been sent back, the libel was changed into an information, charging the seizure to have been made on land, according to the leave given by the decree of the Court in that case.

The information charges the wine to have been in reality Malaga wine, falsely exported from New-York under the name of Sherry, for the benefit of the drawback. To this information, a claim and answer was given and filed by Benjamin Story, as agent for Hazard & Williams, and on the oath of the said Story, claiming the wine as the property of the said Hazard & Williams, making no answer to the specific fact charged by the information, that the wine was Malaga wine, exported under the name of Sherry for the benefit of drawback; but denying generally the allegations of the information, or that any thing had been done to forfeit the wine under the revenue laws of the United States, and claiming the restoration of the wine to Hazard & Williams. The record set forth the evidence on the question, whether the wines were Malaga or Sherry. The verdict of the jury was for the claimants. The District Attorney moved for a new trial, which was overruled; on which he brought this writ of error, and made the following assignment of errors.

1. That on the 18th of December 1819, this case was tried by jury, and verdict and judgment rendered for the United States.

2. The proceedings under this libel were regular; as the amendment related to matter of form merely, and not of substance; and by the 17th section of the Act of Congress of 24th September 1789, the Courts of the United States may establish all necessary rules for conducting the business of the Court; and the 22d section of the same Act provides that 'there shall be no reversal for error in ruling any plea in abatement,' &c. The proceedings in this case, were in conformity with the rules of the Court in which they were instituted.

No answer and claim was filed and sworn to by or in the name and behalf of Charles Hall, the real owner of the said 422 casks of wine, at the time of the seizure and forfeiture thereof to the United States.

Mr. Wirt, Attorney General, on the part of the United States, submitted the case, on the errors assigned by the District Attorney.

Mr. Ogden and Mr. Hall, on the part of the claimants, made the following points:--

1. That there is no error upon the record, for the causes assigned by the Attorney for the United States; the same points having been already before this Court, and after due consideration, conclusively settled, upon the first trial of this cause. (See 8 Wheat. 391. 'The Sarah.')

2. That there was no necessity for the said Charles Hall to file a claim and answer in his own name, since his title to said wine, (if proved) accrued after the seizure thereof; and after a claim and answer had been duly filed by Hazard & Williams, the parties having the legal title to said property.

3. That the objection 'that no answer and claim hath been filed and sworn to by or in the name and behalf of Charles Hall, the real owner of said 422 casks of wine,' were it valid, cannot now prevail; because the same should have been taken when the claim was filed, or at all events at the time of the trial of the cause in the Court below.

4. That from the whole record it appears, that judgment ought not to be for the United States of condemnation of said wine; but ought, of right, to be for the claimants.

5. 'That from the whole of the evidence apparent upon the record, and taken for the purpose of review, &c.' it is manifest that restitution of said wine ought to be decreed to the claimants.

Mr. Justice STORY delivered the opinion of the Court.--


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).