United States v. Connor
The suit against Stout was not tried. On May 13, 1873, a settlement was made with him, and he paid the United States, in lieu of and as a penalty, the sum of $800. On March 22, 1875, the appellee presented an application to the treasury department for his informer's share, which wasind orsed, 'Too late,' and nothing was done thereunder. Twelve years thereafter, and on February 24, 1887, by his attorney, he made a second application. To such application the following answer was returned: 'Treasury Department, Office of the Secretary, Washingtion, D. C., February 24, 1887. George A. King, Esq., Attorney at Law, Washington, D. C.-Sir: In your letter to the secretary, dated the 20th of January, 1887, you request that your client, Mr. Frederick D. Connor, of New Albany, Indiana, be declared to have been the first informer in a case in which he claimed that a penalty of $800 has been recovered by reason of information which had been given by him, and you make this request so that, in case the secretary should decline to order payment of the proper share of said penalty to the informer, he may then be in a position to apply to the court of claims for relief. In reply, I have to say that the case is not one in which payment of the informer's share can be properly made at the present time, because the penalty was fixed by compromise, and the amount paid after August 1, 1872, when the act of June 6, 1872, (17 St. 256,) took effect, repealing section 179 of the act of June 30, 1864, as amended by the act of July 13, 1866, (14 St. 145,) under which the share of the informer is claimed in this case, and because the question as to the effect of such repeal was involved in the Ramsay Case, in which the judgment of the court of claims, on being appealed to the supreme court of the United States, was recently affirmed by a divided court, thus rendering the decision of no effect as a precedent. I see no objection, however, to stating that the proof filed in the office of the secretary of the treasury shows that said Frederick D. Connor gave the first information upon which a penalty of $800 was recovered by compromise from William Stout, a distiller of fruit; the compromise having been approved by the secretary of the treasury on the 13th day of May, 1873, and the penalty having been paid on the 29th of April, 1874. I add that, under the schedule of shares prescribed by the secretary of the treasury, August 14, 1866, pursuant to the authority conferred by said section 179, the share of the penalty that would be payable to an informer in this case would be three hundred and seventy dollars, ($370.00.) It is presumed that on this declaration you can take the case to the court of claims, and obtain an adjudication. C. S. FAIRCHILD, Acting Secretary.' Thereafter this suit was brought, claiming under the act of 1866, and the alleged decision by the secretary of the treasury as evidenced by the letter quoted. The judgment of the court of claims was in favor of the claimant, and the government has brought this appeal.
Asst. Atty. Gen. Cotton, for appellant.
Geo. A. King, for appellee.
Mr. Justice BREWER, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.
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