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United States Supreme Court

75 U.S. 354

Young  v.  Martin

There is no evidence contained in the transcript that any exceptions were taken to the action of the District Court of the Territory, except such as appears from the minutes of the clerk. These minutes are mere memoranda, stating, in the briefest and most general manner, the proceedings had in court. They do not purport to give the particulars of the proceedings, but only to describe their character. They were made to preserve an account of the general order of business of the court, and to assist the clerk in the subsequent preparation of the formal record. In this case they state that, on a day mentioned, the plaintiffs' counsel filed a demurrer, which was argued and taken under advisement; that, on the subsequent day, the demurrer was overruled, and the plaintiffs excepted. And, also, that afterwards, on a certain day, the plaintiffs' counsel made a verbal motion for judgment and damages on the pleadings; that the motion was argued and, on the following day, overruled, and that the ruling was excepted to.

These entries do not present the action of the court and the exceptions in such form that we can take any notice of them. It is no part of the duty of the clerk to note in his entries the exceptions taken, or to note any other proceedings of counsel, except as they are preliminary to, or the basis of, the orders of judgment of the court. To be of any avail, exceptions must not only be drawn up so as to present distinctly the ruling of the court upon the points raised, but they must be signed and sealed by the presiding judge. Unless so signed and sealed, they do not constitute any part of the record which can be considered by an appellate court. [2]

It is true, as stated by counsel, that the object of a bill of exceptions is to make matter of record what would not otherwise appear as such, and that no bill is necessary where the error alleged is apparent upon the record. So here, had the demurrer been in the transcript, and it had appeared that the plaintiffs had relied upon its sufficiency, and final judgment thereon had passed against them, the error of the court, if any existed, would have been open to examination, for it would have been disclosed by the proceedings. No bill of exceptions, then, could have presented more clearly the ruling of the court. [3] But the demurrer is not in the transcript, and it is only a matter of conjecture whether it was a special or general one; to the form or substance of the answer. Nor is any order overruling the demurrer shown; a statement of the clerk in his entries that such was the fact is all that appears. But, independent of this consideration, the ruling of the court on this point would not be noticed, for it appears that the plaintiffs, instead of relying upon the sufficiency of the alleged demurrer, filed a replication to the answer. They thus abandoned their demurrer, and it ceased to be a part of the record. [4]

The exception to the ruling in denying the motion for judgment on the pleadings is not only subject to the general objection already stated, but to the further objection, that the grounds upon which the motion was made or denied are not given. The motion was not made at the trial, and, as counsel suggests, it may have been denied on a point of practice, without respect to the merits.



^2  Williams v. Norris, 12 Wheaton, 119; Leveringe v. Dayton, 4 Washington's Circuit Court, 698.

^3  Suydam v. Williamson, 20 Howard, 427.

^4  Aurora City v. West, 7 Wallace, 92; Clearwater v. Meredith, 1 Id. 42, Brown v. Saratoga Railroad Co., 18 New York, 495.

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).