United States v. Cox/Opinion of the Court

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Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

36 U.S. 162

United States  v.  Cox

This case is brought before this court, by writ of error from the district court for the eastern district of Louisiana. The defendant, Nathaniel Cox, represented by petition to the district judge, that by virtue of an order issued by the solicitor of the treasury to the marshal, his property had been seized and was about to be sold to satisfy a balance exceeding $4000, claimed to be due the government from the petitioner, as late receiver of public moneys. And the petitioner represented, that he was not indebted to the government. An injunction was allowed by the judge, on security being given. After various steps were taken, some of which were clearly irregular, a final decree was entered, which made the injunction perpetual. Exceptions, in the course of the proceedings, were taken by the counsel for the government; and the points thus raised are attempted to be brought before the court by writ of error.

The treasury order or warrant stated in the petition, was issued under the second section of the act 'providing for the better organization of the treasury department,' passed the 15th day of May 1820; the injunction was allowed under the fourth section of that act. The fifth section provides, that the injunction may be allowed or dissolved by the judge, either in or out of court; and in the ninth section, it is provided, if the district judge shall refuse to grant the injunction, or shall dissolve it, after it has been allowed, an appeal in behalf of the party aggrieved, may be allowed by a judge of the supreme court. The case of the United States v. Nourse, 6 Pet. 470, was very similar to the one under consideration. In that case, after a full investigation, this court decided, that no appeal by the government was authorized by the act; and that the general law giving appeals did not embrace the case.

It is suggested, that some distinction may be drawn between the two cases. That in the case of Nourse, the proceeding was first had before the district judge, from whose decree an appeal was taken to the circuit court, where the decree of the district judge was affirmed, and from which affirmance, an appeal was made to this court; that in the case under examination an appeal is taken from the decree of the district judge. The act referred to gives to the district judge a special jurisdiction, which he may exercise at his discretion; while holding the district court, or at any other time. Ordinarily, as district judge, he has no chancery powers; but in proceeding under this statute, he is governed by the rules of chancery, which apply to injunctions, except no answer to the bill is required by the government. As no appeal is given to the government in the statute, by writ of error or otherwise, either to the circuit or the supreme court; the decree of the district judge in favor of the defendant, must be held final. We think the general law allowing appeals cannot be so construed as to enable this court, by appeal or writ of error, to revise the proceedings of the district judge, under this statute. The views of this court in the case of Nourse apply to this case; and it is unnecessary to repeat them. This case must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

ON appeal from the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Louisiana. This cause came on to be heard, on the transcript of the record from the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Louisiana, and was argued by counsel: On consideration whereof, it is now here ordered, adjudged and decreed by this court, that this appeal be and the same is hereby dismissed, for the want of jurisdiction.


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).