Barry v. Mercein (45 U.S. 574)/Opinion of the Court
In the case of John A. Barry v. Mary Mercein and Eliza Ann Barry, a motion was made on Friday last by the plaintiff in error to assign some day during the present term for the argument. A petition was filed at the last term by one of the defendants in error, praying that the writ of error might be dismissed for want of jurisdiction. The case in the regular order of business was called on the 15th day of January last, and neither party appearing, it was, according to the rules of the court, placed at the foot of the calendar; and it is now evident, from the number of cases standing before it, that it cannot be reached during the present term, unless by a special order of the court giving it priority.
There are two questions in the case, both of them grave and serious ones;-1st. Whether this court have jurisdiction upon a writ of error in a case like this; and, 2d. If it should be determined that it has jurisdiction, then, whether the Circuit Court committed an error in refusing to award the habeas corpus.
As this controversy, while it continues undecided, must be a painful one to the parties on both sides, the court feel every disposition to bring it to a speedy hearing, if it could be done without injustice to others; and if the motion to assign a day was liable to no other objection than that it would be a departure from the order of business prescribed by the rules, there would be no difficulty in making this case an exception, and assigning a day for the hearing.
But at the present period of the term, the assignment of a particular day for the trial of this case involves other and higher considerations than that of a mere departure from established rules. In four or five weeks, at farthest, the court will be compelled to close its session, in order to enable its members to perform their duties at the circuits; and several important cases, some of which cannot be continued without producing much public inconvenience in three or more of the States, have already been specially assigned for argument, and the order in which they are to be taken up announced from the bench; and in obedience to this notice counsel have been for some time past, and still are, attending to argue them. It is very doubtful whether enough remains of the term to enable the court to dispose of these cases, and it is probable that one or more of them may of necessity be continued. Under such circumstances, we cannot, without injustice to others and inconvenience to the public in several of the States, make a new and unexpected arrangement in the order of business, by which another case, not entitled to priority, is interposed out of its proper order. The case in question must, therefore, stand over until the next term.