Pitcock v. State

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In Pitcock v. State, 91 Ark. 527 (1909), the Arkansas Supreme Court overruled its earlier decision in McConnell v. Arkansas Brick and Manufacturing Company, 70 Ark. 568 (1902) (permitting injunction to prevent state prison commissioners from unlawfully rescinding a contract).

McCulloch, C.J., wrote the opinion of the court in Pitcock, beginning at 91 Ark. at 529. Hart, J., wrote a concurring opinion, id. at 539. Wood, J., wrote an opinion concurring in judgment only, id. and 540. And Battle, J., wrote a dissenting opinion, id. at 548.

Supreme Court of Arkansas

91 Ark. 527

Pitcock  v.  State

Certiorari to Pulaski Chancery Court

Decided: July 12, 1909.

Court Documents
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinions
Dissenting Opinion

  1. CONTEMPT—EVASION OF SERVICE OF WRIT.—Where a party to a suit in equity, after receiving actual notice of the issuance of a writ of injunction therein, evaded the service of the writ and violated the injunction, he will be held to have been in contempt of court if the court possessed jurisdiction of the cause. (Page 533.)
  2. SAME—DISOBEDIENCE OF WRIT ERRONEOUSLY ISSUED.—If a court had jurisdiction of the parties and subject-matter of the cause of action in which an injunction was issued, the fact that the injunction was erroneously and improvidently issued does not excuse disobedience upon the part of those who were bound by its terms. (Page 533.)
  3. JUDGMENTS—NECESSITY OF JURISDICTION.—Where the pleadings in a case show on their face that the court is wholly without jurisdiction of the subject-matter set forth therein, any preliminary order made or final judgment rendered is void. (Page 533.)
  4. STATE—WHEN SUIT HELD TO BE AGAINST.—A suit the purpose of which is to restrain an attempted breach by the Penitentiary Board of a contract alleged to have been entered into by such board on behalf of the State whereby convict labor should be furnished to the plaintiff is in effect a suit against the State, and cannot be maintained. (Page 534.)
  5. SAME—SUIT AGAINST OFFICERS.—Where the pleadings show that a suit is in effect against the State, though nominally against certain State officers, the trial court had no jurisdiction, and a temporary restraining order issued by it will be quashed on certiorari. (Page 538.)

Certiorari to Pulaski Chancery Court; John E. Martineau, Chancellor; reversed.

Argument for petitioner[edit]

Hal L. Norwood, Attorney General, and James H. Harrod, for petitioner.

1. Where an injunction is issued without authority of law, that is, in a matter over which the court had no jurisdiction, no one can be punished for disobeying it. 43 Ark. 63. Under the laws of this State no court has jurisdiction to grant a temporary injunction unless (1) it is specially authorized by statute; or (2) it affirmatively appears from the complaint that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief demanded, and that the acts sought to be restrained would, if committed, cause great or irreparable injury. Kirby's Dig., § 3965. Before a temporary restraining order can be granted to prevent the violation of a contract, the contract must be free from doubt. High on Inj., § 695. The complaint on its face shows that it is a suit against the State, and is ruled by 123 U. S. 443. It does not show that plaintiff would suffer great or irreparable injury. High on Inj., § 35.

2. If the injunction was legally issued, petitioner could not be held to have violated it. Unless notice has been given of intention to apply for an injunction, it, when issued, must be indorsed on the summons and served by the sheriff. Kirby's Dig., §§ 3982, 3983. Mere verbal notice is not sufficient. The law provides that notices must be in writing, and how served. Kirby's Dig., §§ 6267-8. However, petitioner's testimony is undisputed that he had given the order to bring the prisoners in before counsel spoke to him over the telephone.

Argument for respondent[edit]

Murphy, Coleman & Lewis, for respondent.

If the complaint in the case of Arkansas Brick & Manufacturing Company v. Pitcock was such that the court had the power to hear and determine the allegations therein, it had jurisdiction to issue the injunction. This court has expressly held that the lower court had jurisdiction in such cases. 70 Ark. 588. See also 1 Black on Judgments, § 215; 34 Ark. 110.

When the court upon a hearing of the complaint and in the exercise of its discretion decides that a temporary restraining order should go, it is the duty of the party against whom the injunction was issued to obey it. He has his remedy, if it is improvidently issued, to apply to the court itself to dissolve it or modify its terms, and he cannot on his own motion disobey the injunction and then purge himself of contempt by claiming that the court had no jurisdiction to issue the order. High on Inj., § 847; Bailey on Jurisdiction, § 3041, p. 336; 78 Ark. 266; 9 N.Y. 263; 232 Ill. 402; 114 N.W. 628; Bailey on Jur., §§ 2, 3, 4; 10 Am. & Eng. Enc. of L. 1105; 25 Mo. App. 639; 144 Fed. 284; 143 Fed. 375; 62 Fed. 826.

2. If a party is informed of the application for an injunction, it is not necessary that he have notice that the injunction has actually issued. Kirby's Dig., § 3984; High on Injunctions, §§ 852, 853; 144 Fed. 1011; Id. 279.

[Opinion of the court by Chief Justice EDGAR A. MCCULLOCH. Concurring opinion by Justice JESSE C. HART. Opinion concurring in judgment only by Justice CARROLL D. WOOD. Dissenting opinion by Justice BURRILL B. BATTLE.]

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