Harris v. Balk

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United States Supreme Court

198 U.S. 215


 Argued: April 4, 1905. --- Decided: May 8, 1905

The plaintiff in error brings the case here in order to review the judgment of the supreme court of North Carolina, affirming a judgment of a lower court against him for $180, with interest, as stated therein. The case has been several times before the supreme court of that state, and is reported in 122 N. C. 64, 45 L. R. A. 257, 30 S. E. 318, again, 124 N. C. 467, 45 L. R. A. 260, 70 Am. St. Rep. 606, 32 S. E. 799. The opinion delivered at the time of entering the judgment now under review is to be found in 130 N. C. 381, 41 N. E. 940. And see, also, 132 N. C. 10, 43 S. E. 477.

The facts are as follows: The plaintiff in error, Harris, was a resident of North Carolina at the time of the commencement of this action, in 1896, and prior to that time was indebted to the defendant in error, Balk, also a resident of North Carolina, in the sum of $180, for money borrowed from Balk by Harris during the year 1896, which Harris verbally promised to repay, but there was no written evidence of the obligation. During the year above mentioned one Jacob Epstein, a resident of Baltimore, in the state of Maryland, asserted that Balk was indebted to him in the sum of over $300. In August, 1896, Harris visited Baltimore for the purpose of purchasing merchandise, and while he was in that city temporarily on August 6, 1896, Epstein caused to be issued out of a proper court in Baltimore a foreign or nonresident writ of attachment against Balk, attaching the debt due Balk from Harris, which writ the sheriff at Baltimore laid in the hands of Harris, with a summons to appear in the court at a day named. With that attachment, a writ of summons and a short declaration against Balk (as provided by the Maryland statute) were also delivered to the sheriff, and by him set up at the courthouse door, as required by the law of Maryland. Before the return day of the attachment writ Harris left Baltimore, and returned to his home in North Carolina. He did not contest the garnishee process, which was issued to garnish the debt which Harris owed Balk. After his return Harris made an affidavit on August 11, 1896, that he owed Balk $180, and stated that the amount had been attached by Epstein, of Baltimore, and by his counsel in the Maryland proceeding Harris consented therein to an order of condemnation against him as such garnishee for $180, the amount of his debt to Balk. Judgment was thereafter entered against the garnishee, and in favor of the plaintiff, Epstein, for $180. After the entry of the garnishee judgment, condemning the $180 in the hands of the garnishee, Harris paid the amount of the judgment to one Warren, an attorney of Epstein, residing in North Carolina. On August 11, 1896, Balk commenced an action against Harris before a justice of the peace in North Carolina, to recover the $180 which he averred Harris owed him. The plaintiff in error, by way of answer to the suit, pleaded in bar the recovery of the Maryland judgment and his payment thereof, and contended that it was conclusive against the defendant in error in this action, because that judgment was a valid judgment in Maryland, and was therefore entitled to full faith and credit in the courts of North Carolina. This contention was not allowed by the trial court, and judgment was accordingly entered against Harris for the amount of his indebtedness to Balk, and that judgment was affirmed by the supreme court of North Carolina. The ground of such judgment was that the Maryland court obtained no jurisdiction to attach or garnish the debt due from Harris to Balk, because Harris was but temporarily in the state, and the situs of the debt was in North Carolina.

Messrs. George W. S. Musgrave and Sylvan Hayes Lauchheimer for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 217-219 intentionally omitted]

Mr. John H. Small for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 219-221 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Justice Peckham, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court:


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).