United States v. Vigil (77 U.S. 423)
THIS was a motion to dismiss an appeal taken on the part of the United States from the Supreme Court of the Territory of New Mexico.
The suit was brought by Vigil and others to recover a parcel of land in that Territory, under a special act of Congress, passed 21st June, 1860, which gave the right of appeal to either party, if asked for within one year from the rendition of the judgment. A judgment was rendered against the United States in the court below, at the January Term, 1867, from which an appeal was sought to be taken. The only question was as to its regularity. It was maintained on the part of the government that the appeal was prayed for by the district attorney of the United States in court at the time already mentioned, when the judgment was rendered, and was granted, but that the clerk, for some unexplained reason, neglected to make an entry in the minutes of what was thus done.
This omission of the clerk did not appear to have been discovered by the district attorney till January Term, 1869. In the meantime this officer in the Territory had retired from the office, and when the omission was brought to his notice by his successor he expressed his surprise, and stated that he not only prayed for the appeal but charged the clerk to make the entry, and, as he believed, gave him a memorandum to that effect. As soon as the omission came to the knowledge of his successor, he made an application to the court below to amend the record so that it might appear that the appeal had been prayed for, according to the facts, at the term in which the judgment was rendered.
The court granted the application and ordered that an entry be made, nunc pro tunc, of an appeal in the cause, asked for at the January Term, 1867, and that the same be granted. But, of course, no transcript of the record was returned and filed in this court before the end of the next term after the allowance of the appeal regarding it as of that date.
Messrs. Watts and Ewing, Jr., in support of the motion,
Adverting to the fact that the record showed no citation, insisted that although the proceedings finally taken below might establish the appeal and make it valid, as of the January Term, 1867, yet, according to the settled practice of the court, a transcript of the record in the court below must be returned by the clerk and filed in this court before the end of the next term after the allowance of the appeal; otherwise that it would be dismissed for want of jurisdiction, and that, in this respect, the appeal was defective.
Mr. Akerman, Attorney-General, and Mr. C. H. Hill, Assistant Attorney-General, contra.
Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.