United States v. Adams (73 U.S. 101)
THESE were three motions: the first two to dismiss appeals from the Court of Claims, one in the case of Adams, and one in the case of Johnson; the third, in the case of Clark, a motion for a certiorari designed to require that court to make a more extended statement of the evidence on which they had made a particular finding. The motion in the first two cases resting on more grounds than one; in the third, on one ground only.
To understand the cases well, it is necessary to refer to the statutes and rules which regulate appeals from the Court of Claims. An act of March 3, 1863, provides that 'either party may appea to this court, &c., where the amount in controversy exceeds $3000, under such regulations as the said Supreme Court may direct: Provided, That such appeal shall be taken within ninety days after the rendition of such judgment or decree.'At the December Term, 1865, the Supreme Court prescribed certain regulations by which appeals might be taken.
The first rule prescribes that the Court of Claims shall make a finding of the ultimate facts or propositions which the evidence shall establish, in the nature of a special verdict, and not the evidence on which these ultimate facts are founded, and also conclusions of law, which findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be certified to the Supreme Court as part of the record.
The third rule prescribes that 'in all cases an order of allowance of appeal by the Court of Claims, or the chief justice thereof, in vacation, is essential, and the limitation of time for granting such appeal shall cease to run from the time an application is made for the allowance of appeal.'
The forty-eighth rule of the Court of Claims provides that 'whenever such application for an appeal is made in vacation, the same shall be filed with the clerk of this court, and such filing shall be deemed the date of the application for an appeal.'
The act of March 3, 1863, provides 'that the said Court of Claims shall hold one annual session, commencing on the first Monday in October in each year, and continuing as long as may be necessary for the prompt disposition of the business of the court;' and an act of March 17, 1866, 'that the regular session of the Court of Claims shall hereafter commence on the first Monday of December, in each year.'
In this state of statutes and rules, judgment was rendered by the Court of Claims in the case of Adams in his favor on the 19th March, and in the case of Johnson, on the 25th. The court adjourned on the 20th of May to the 25th of June. On the 10th of June the solicitor of the United States for the Court of Claims, Mr. Norton, filed in the office of the clerk, a paper, in the case of Adams, of which the following is a copy: Theodore Adams v. The United States.
The United States, by E. P. Norton, its solicitor, makes application to the Honorable Court of Claims for an appeal of the case of Theodore Adams v. The United States, to the Supreme Court of the United States.
E. P. NORTON,
Solicitor for the United States.
A similar paper was filed in the case of Johnson, at the same time. On the first day that the court was in actual session, to wit, on the 25th day of June, the solicitor moved for an allowance of these appeals, and on the next day the court made an order allowing them. The order was thus made more than ninety days after the judgments were rendered.
In these two cases, therefore, grounds of motion to dismiss were:
1. Because the appeal must be taken within ninety days after the rendition of the decree, and in this case the said period has elapsed.
2. Because the taking of an appeal in cases decreed by the Court of Claims consists of two things: 1st. Of an application for an appeal, which may be made to the court in term time, or by filing an application in the method prescribed by the rules when made in vacation. 2d. Of an allowance of the appeal so applied for by the court, and that both the application for and the allowance of the appeal must be made within the said term of ninety days from the rendition of the decree.
3. Because the application made for an appeal in this case, and filed in the clerk's office June 10, 1867, is irregular and void, having been made in term time, and not in vacation, as contemplated by the rules of court.
And in all three of the cases an additional ground was assigned, viz.:
That the record had not been made up and settled, as the first rule of the Supreme Court, made at December Term, 1865, required.
As to this part of the matter it appeared—
1. In the Adams case, that the findings were put under twenty different numbered paragraphs; that under one of them a joint resolution of Congress was set out in full; and under others, parts of acts of Congress. Withal, the finding made a sequent, orderly and intelligible statement, and was comprised within less than six pages 8vo, chiefly of small pica type.
2. In the case of Johnson, the form of finding was different. Somewhat less than two pages were occupied with narrative and clear account of a settlement by him upon valuable and unoccupied public lands in Washington Territory, where he erected buildings, which the government of the United States, operating against hostile Indians, had taken to its own use. But the rest of the finding consisted of nine pages of Government Correspondence from the Land Office, Department of the Interior, Register's Office at Vancouver, with various affidavits from settlers and others, a joint resolution of Congress, and many other documents, about twenty in all, set out in extenso, signatures, &c., with very little in the nature of a finding of ultimate facts. It ended with a succinct statement of the court's conclusions of law, on what was called 'findings of fact.'
3. In the case of Clark,-where the motion was for a certiorari to require the Court of Claims to make a more extended statement of the evidence on which they found,-no documents or evidence were set out. On the contrary, the petition having set forth that the petitioner having agreed by correspondence, with its authorized agents, to furnish to the government a certain quantity of potatoes, in a certain manner, the government agents had afterwards prepared formal articles of agreement, which he signed without advice of counsel, and not knowing at the time but that they truly and fairly stated the actual agreement of the parties, and that the contract was not truly stated in the articles, but by mistake or fraud was misstated,-the finding on this head ran thus:
'That the allegations of fraud or mistake in the concoction of the written agreement is not sustained by the evidence in the case.'Messrs. Carlisle, Corwine, and Wills, in support of the motion to dismiss the appeals of Adams and Johnson:
I. As to the regularity of those appeals. The statute gives an appeal under such regulations as this court may prescribe. The regulations when prescribed are as if part of the statute. By the terms of the statute, the appeal must be taken within ninety days. No regulation can alter this. The time is peremptory. In this case on appeal was 'taken,' 'allowed,' or even prayed for, till the ninety days had expired. All the party did was to pray an appeal generally, and of this jurisdiction cannot be taken.
There was no 'vacation' between the 20th May and the 25th June. By the act of March 3d, 1863, and that of 17th March, 1866, the term is limited, but its duration is without limit. The 'vacation,' therefore, referred to in the rule under consideration, had not occurred when this application was filed with the clerk: on the contrary, the court was in session.
A vacation is defined by Bouvier to be the period of time between the end of one term and the beginning of another. 
A vacation is a different thing from a continuance, the result of an ordinary adjournment.  Adjournment, in the English practice, is a day so called from its being a further day appointed by the judges at the regular sittings to try causes at nisi prius. Adjournment day in Error, in English courts, is a day appointed some days before the end of the term, at which matters left undone on the affirmance are finished. But the whole term is considered as but one day. So, no vacation having occurred, the application should have been made to the court, the only tribunal or authority at that time authorized to receive and hear it.
II. As to the forms of the findings in all three cases, and of the motion for certiorari in the third. The bject of the rule laid down by the Supreme Court was to get a clean, clear narrative of ultimate facts, a case like a case stated, or agreed on or found by special verdict, so that the court could give an opinion, in a form perfectly abstract, upon that case, and without any arguing of what the case was, or summoning up or back of facts. In the case of Adams, and especially in that of Johnson, the first and second cases, we have evidence of facts; leaving this court to settle the facts, a matter which it was the purpose of the rule to relieve it of. In the case of Clark, the finding is objectionable in the other way; that is to say, from its curtness. A certiorari to bring up a fuller case is necessary.
Mr. Norton, Solicitor of the Court of Claims, contra:
I. As to the appeals of Adams and Johnson. The appeal is taken when the application is made; for what else can the applicant for an appeal do? He has no bond to give, no additional act to perform; no control over any subsequent proceeding. The order of allowance may be made at any time.
The rule of the Supreme Court does not prescribe how the application shall be made, whether in open court orally, or by the filing of an application with the clerk, but that the making of the application, whether in the one mode or the other, shall be all that is required from the appellant.
The statute allowing ninety days would be nugatory, if the appellant had not been permitted to file his application with the clerk. If the court be not in session or the chief justice is absent, there is no other made of taking an appeal.
It is contended that there can be no vacation until after the final adjournment sine die. But the act of March 17th, 1866, in providing that the regular session of the Court of Claims should be on the first Monday of December in each year, contemplated that there might be irregular sessions.
In the early period of the history of English courts, vacations of courts had no regularity, and the word was sometimes applied to the interval of a portion of a day. The words interval, recess, and vacation, are synonymes.
II. The objections to the finding seem to be too technical. As to the cases of Adams and Johnson, if requiring to be rectified, the findings can be rectified by a remand, and without dismissing the cases. As to the case of Clark, where a certiorari is asked to enlarge the finding, the finding seems in precise right form.
Mr. Justice MILLER delivered the opinion of the court.
^1 2 Law Dictionary
^2 1 Id.
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