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1. Cases in equity come here from the circuit courts, and the district courts sit
ting as circuit courts, by appeal, and are heard upon the proofs sent up
with the record. No new evidence can be received here. 2. So much of the Judiciary Act of 1789 as relates to the oral examination of
witnesses in open court in causes in equity was not expressly repealed until the adoption of the Revised Statutes, sect. 862 of which provides that “the mode of proof in causes of equity and of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction shall be according to the rules now or hereafter prescribed by the Supreme
Court, except as herein specially provided.” 8. While this court does not say, that, even since the Revised Statutes, the cir
cuit courts may not in their discretion, under the operation of existing rules, permit the examination of witnesses orally in open court upon the hearing of cases in equity, it does say that they are not now by law required to do 80; and that, if such practice is adopted in any case, the testimony presented in that form must be taken down, or its substance stated in writing and made part of the record, or it will be entirely disregarded here on an
appeal. 4. If testimony is objected to and ruled out, it must still be sent here with the
record, subject to objection, or the ruling will not be considered. A case will not be sent back to have the rejected testimony taken, even though this court might, on examination, be of opinion that the objection ought
not to have been sustained. 6. As this cause is in equity, the act of 1872 (17 Stat. 197; Rev. Stat., sect. 914)
has no application to it. 6. Where a party, knowing the pecuniary condition of a debtor, purchased a
claim against him of an ascertained amount, an opinion, however erroneous, expressed by the seller as to the value of the claim, does not affect the validity of the sale. Under such circumstances, each party is presumed to
rely upon his own judgment. VOL. 11.
APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of South Carolina.
Mr. James Lowndes for the appellant.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.
This suit was brought for the foreclosure of a mortgage made by Blease to Garlington. The bill is in the ordinary form. Blease, in his answer, admits the execution of the note and mortgage, but insists, by way of defence, that Garlington “deceived him as to the value of the consideration of the said note and mortgage, and has not complied with his positive agreement." The history of the transaction, he says, is as follows:
“ The complainant, as the administrator of J. M. Young, deceased, held a large claim against the estate of John B. O'Neall, deceased, who had been the guardian of the said J. M. Young; and Robert Stuart and H. H. Kinard were the sureties on his bond. The complainant had commenced suit on said bond against Robert Stuart, and proceedings to force him into bankruptcy; and his life seemed to be endangered by the excitement which this last proceeding produced, he being naturally in very feeble health. Under these circumstances, negotiations were commenced between the complainant and this respondent, the friend of the said R. Stuart, in regard for the sale of the claim of the said complainant against the said Robert Stuart, as surety on the said guardianship-bond of said J. B. O'Neall, deceased; and this respondent was induced to purchase said claim at $6,000 ($4,000 of which was paid in cash, and the note described in bill given for $2,000) by the assurance of the complainant that said claim was worth at least $6,000, and he made some calculations to show this, and said, as this claim was worth $6,000, it would not be right for him to take less than that sum, and that he would not do it. This purchase was made upon the further assurance and undertaking of the complainant that he would obtain judgment for this respondent. This defendant avers that said purchase would not have been made by him at that price but for the said assurance and promise of the complainant, in which this respondent put implicit confidence. This respondent, further answering, states, that the said Robert Stuart died before judgment was obtained on said claim; and this respondent has been informed and believes that his
estate is so utterly insolvent that it will not pay any thing like the sum of $6,000 on said claim, and he asks that this case be not tried until the true condition of said estate can be ascertained. This defendant further submits to this honorable court, that the complainant, having deceived this defendant as to the value of said claim against Robert Stuart, and not having complied with his part of the contract to obtain judgment on said claim, is not entitled to enforce collection of said note and mortgage in this court, where equity is administered, and asks that the whole contract may be set aside, and the complainant required to deliver up to this defendant the said note and mortgage to be cancelled, and to refund the $4,000 paid in cash to him on said contract, with interest."
Upon the hearing in the court below, after the plaintiff had submitted his case upon the pleadings and his mortgage, the defendant presented himself as a witness to be examined orally in open court, and proposed to testify to the following facts, to wit:
“1. That one of the conditions of the original agreement for the sale of the liability of Robert Stuart, as one of the sureties on the bond of J. B. O'Neall, as guardian of J. M. Young, plaintiff's intestate, to the defendant, was that the plaintiff should obtain judgment against the said R. Stuart; and that, when the agreement was drawn up and presented to the defendant, he called attention of plaintiff to the fact that that part of the agreement which obligated him to get judgment had been left out, and insisted that it should be inserted; and he was assured that that condition should be carried out, and that it was not necessary to rewrite the agreement for the purpose of putting it in.
“ 2. That, during the negotiations for the sale of the aforesaid liability of R. Stuart, the plaintiff represented to the defendant that said liability or claim was worth at least $6,000; and that, in fact, it is not worth $2,500.
“3. That the defendant did not know the then financial condition of R. Stuart, and put implicit confidence in the promises and representations of the plaintiff, and would not have made the trade but for such assurance.”
His proposition, made in writing, is sent here as part of the record. The court refused to receive the testimony, and it was not taken. A decree having been entered in favor of Garlington, Blease brings the case here by appeal.
Cases in equity come here from the circuit courts, and the district courts sitting as circuit courts, by appeal, and not by writ of error. Rev. Stat., sect. 692. They are heard upon the proofs sent up with the record from the court below. No new evidence can be received here. Rev. Stat., sect. 698.
The facts relied upon by Blease were neither proved nor admitted in the court below. Testimony in support of them was offered; but it was not received. We do not know, that, if it had been received, it would have been sufficient. If we find that the court erred in refusing the testimony, we shall be compelled to affirm the decree because of the lack of proof, or send the case back for a new hearing.
An important question of practice is thus presented for our consideration.
The Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 88, sect. 30) provided that the mode of proof by oral testimony and examination of witnesses in open court should be the same in all the courts of the United States, as well in the trial of causes in equity as of actions at common law. By sect. 19 of the same act, it was made the duty of the Circuit Court, in equity cases, to cause the facts on which they founded their decree fully to appear upon the record, either from the pleadings and decree, or a statement of the case agreed upon by the parties or their counsel, or, if they disagreed, by a stating of the case by the court. Subsequently, in 1802 (2 Stat. 166, sect. 25), it was enacted that in all suits in equity the court might in its discretion, upon the request of either party, order the testimony of witnesses therein to be taken by depositions. In 1803 (2 Stat. 244, sect. 2) an appeal was given to this court in equity cases, and it was provided, that, upon the appeal, a transcript of the bill, answer, depositions, and all other pro ceedings in the cause, should be transmitted here. The case was to be heard in this court upon the proofs submitted below.
In Conn. et al. v. Penn., 5 Wheat. 424, decided in 1820, this court held that a decree founded in part upon parol testimony must be reversed, because that portion of the testimony which was oral had not been sent up. For this reason, among others, the cause was sent back for further proceedings according to equity. Chief Justice Marshall, in delivering the opinion of the court, said (p. 426),