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Opinion of the Court.

the courts of New Jersey, operating under such laws, could make, it is sufficient to say that this court has held otherwise.

In Vaughn v. Northrup, 15 Pet. 1, Mr. Justice Story, delivering the opinion of the court, said: “ The debts due froin the government of the United States have no locality at the seat of government. The United States in their sovereign capacity have no particular place of domicile, but possess, in contemplation of law, an ubiquity throughout the United States; and the debts due by them are not to be treated like the debts of a private debtor, which constitute local assets in his own. domicile,” and accordingly it was held, in that case, that “the administrator of a creditor of the government duly appointed in the State where the creditor was domiciled at the time of his death, has full authority to receive payment and give a full discharge of the debt due his intestate in any place where the gova ernment may choose to pay it, whether it be at the seat of government or at any other place where the public funds are deposited; and that moneys so received constituted assets under that administration, for which he was accountable to the proper tribunals of the State where he was appointed.”

Price v. Forrest, 173 U. S. 410, was one phase in the present controversy. There the question was between the heirs of Rodman M. Price and Borcherling, who had been appointed by the Chancery Court of New Jersey receiver of the assets of Price, including the money belonging to him in the Treasury of the United States. It was held by the courts of New Jersey that the receiver was entitled to the money in the Treasury, and the heirs and administrator of Price were enjoined from demanding or receiving from the Secretary of the Treasury, or any officer thereof, the said money or any part thereof. The cause was brought to this court, and, after full consideration, the decreo of the Court of Errors and Appeals of the State of New Jersey was affirmed. Two things were thus determined—first, generally, that it was competent for a state court of the domicil of a creditor of the United States, and having jurisdiction over bis person, to decide a controversy between his heirs and creditors as to the right to receive moneys held in trust by the United

Opinion of the Court.

States; and, second, specifically, under the facts of the present case, that the title to the moneys of Price in the Treasury of the United States had passed, under the laws of the State of New Jersey and the decree of its courts, from Price and his heirs, and had become vested in Borcherling, the receiver.

It is not open to doubt that the Court of Claims has jurisdiction to entertain the claim of the receiver to receive the fund, the title to which had thus become vested in him. The jurisdiction of that court extends throughout the United States. It issues writs to every part of the United States, and is specially authorized to enforce them. 10 Stat. 612, c. 122, sec. 3. By establishing this court, the United States created a tribunal to determine the right to receive moneys due by the government. Such legislation did not leave the Treasury or its officers free to arbitrarily select, between conflicting claimants, the one to whom payment should be made.

It is finally contended, in behalf of the government, that even if it was competent for the state courts to determine the controversy between the rival claimants to this fund, and even if the Court of Claims has jurisdiction to give effect to such determination, yet the rights of creditors resident within the District of Columbia were paramount to those of the New Jersey receiver, and that a payment made directly to them by the acting Secretary of the Treasury would be a lawful discharge of the United States.

Undoubtedly, as between different States or sovereignties, the general rule is that the courts of one will not aid the officers of another to withdraw funds or property of a decedent without providing for local creditors. But such a rule has no application in a case like the present, where the government of the United States has ubiquity in all the States of the Union, and does not hold moneys due a creditor subject to the local demands or claims of residents of the District of Columbia. Moreover, such a rule is for a court having control over the fund in dispute. It is not for a ministerial officer of the Treasury, having no judicial powers, to give effect to such demands.

It is, indeed, suggested that the action of the Supreme Court

Opinion of the Court.

of the District of December 22, 1893, was a legal determination which operated to relieve Price, as to a portion of this fund, from the injunction of that court, enjoining him from receiving or collecting moneys due him in the Treasury of the United States, and to authorize the Treasurer of the United States to pay such portion of the fund in disregard of the decree of the New Jersey court.

But it is obvious that the Supreme Court of the District had no jurisdiction or control over the money in the Treasury of the United States. It was dealing only with the parties before it, of whom the United States was not one. The order referred to doubtless did relieve Price from the existing injunction of that court, and left him free, so far as that injunction was concerned, to urge bis claim against the United States ; but it did not, and could not, relieve Price from the injunction and decree of the New Jersey court. Nor could such order operate as a legal adjudication, which would permit the Treasurer of the United States to disregard the decree of the courts of New Jersey and the title of the receiver thereunder, of which the department had full notice. In point of fact, inspection shows that this order was not intended as an adjudication. It was merely ex parte, and its only purpose or effect was to permit Price to push elsewhere his claim against the government. Such an order could not have been the subject of an appeal, even if an opportunity had been afforded to the receiver to take an appeal.

When analyzed, this contention will be perceived to be only a renewal of the one already considered, namely, that a ministerial officer, having no judicial or statutory powers in the premises, in a case wherein the government was the debtor, could arbitrarily, without notice to the legal holder of the claim, pay the money in dispute in this case over to Price. This, we have seen, he had no power under the law to do, and such a disposition of the money could not be successfully pleaded in the Court of Claims as a lawful discharge of the United States.

For these reasons, and referring, for a fuller discussion of the questions involved, to the opinion of the Court of Claims, we

Opinion of the Court.

think the conclusions of the court were correct, and its judgment is accordingly


MR. JUSTICE WHITE dissented.

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN took no part in the decision of this case.



No. 523. Submitted February 28, 1902.-Decided April 21, 1902.

The District and Circuit Courts of the United States are always open for

the transaction of some business which may be transacted under the orders of the judge in his absence, and on such transaction rest the plaintiff's claims in this case, which the court sustain as business which could be transacted by the clerk in the absence of the judge, following the de

partmental construction of the statutes. Of course if that construction were obviously or clearly wrong it would be

the duty of the court to so adjudge; but if there simply be doubt as to the soundness of that construction, the action of the Government in conformity with it for many years should not be overruled except for cogent veasons.

The case is stated in the opinion of the court.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Pradt and Mr. Philip M. Ashford for appellants.

Mr. Charles C. Lancaster for appellee.

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

The appellee was clerk of the District and Circuit Courts for the Kentucky District from July 1, 1894, to June 30, 1898, his office, during that period and previously, being in the city

Opinion of the Court.

of Covington, one of the places at which those courts were held. The District Judge resided in the city of Louisville, while the Circuit Judges resided in other States.

The clerk presented to the proper officers of the Treasury for payment his account for certain services rendered during the above period, amounting to $995.

The account was sworn to and approved as required by the act of February 22, 1875, which provides, among other things, that before “any account payable out of the money of the United States shall be allowed by any officer of the Treasury, in favor of clerks, marsbals or district attorneys, the party claiming such account shall render the same, with the vouchers and items thereof, to a United States Circuit or District Court, and, in presence of the district attorney or his sworn assistant, whose presence shall be noted on the record, prove in open court, to the satisfaction of the court, by his own oath or that of other persons having knowledge of the facts, to be attached to such account, that the services therein charged have been actually and necessarily performed as therein stated; and that the disbursements charged have been fully paid in lawful money; and the court shall thereupon cause to be entered of record an order approving or disapproving the account, as may be according to law, and just.” 18 Stat. 333, c. 95, $ 1.

Payment of the account having been refused, this suit was brought against the United States, the petitioner averring that “his whole compensation, if said fees were added, would not exceed the maximum compensation of $7000 for any one year.”

Judgment having been entered in favor of the plaintiff for the amount sued for, the Government has prosecuted this appeal.

The findings of fact upon which the judgment below was based were as follows:

“I. The claimant, Joseph C. Finnell, was clerk of the District and Circuit Courts of the United States for the District of Kentucky from July 1, 1894, to June 30, 1898, duly qualified and acting.

“II. During said period he entered orders, decrees and other proceedings of the court on 199 days, extending through said time. None of the judges of said courts were personally pres

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