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It consists of a chief justice and four additional judges, all of whom are appointed by the president, by and with the advice of the Senate. Its territorial jurisdiction extends over the whole of the United States."
The statute of limitations provides that every claim against the United States, cognizable by the Court of Claims, shall be forever barred unless the petition setting forth a statement thereof is filed in the court, or transmitted to it by the secretary of the Senate or the clerk of the House of Representatives as provided by law, within six years after the claim first accrues.
37. Court of Customs Appeals.—This court was established by Congress by the Tariff Act of 1909. Its function is to hear appeals in all cases arising from customs disputes.
38. Court of Private Land Claims. This court was provided for by Congress in 1891. It consisted of a chief justice and four associate justices. It ceased to exist June 30, 1904, at which time all powers possessed by it in the approval of surveys executed under its decrees of confirmation passed to the commissioner of the General Land Office.
39. United States Senate. The Constitution of the United States confers upon the United States Senate the sole power to try all cases of impeachment against public officials of the United States. Formal accusation, however, in all such cases, must be made by the House of Representatives before the Senate can act. The Constitution further provides that when the President is tried for impeachment the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, and not the Vice-president; and furthermore that no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.
1 The judgments given by this court are enforced, not by execution, but are paid by an appropriation bill passed in the ordinary way at the convenience of Congress.
40. Commissioners' courts.- What are sometimes called commissioners' courts are in reality not courts at all. United States commissioners are officers whose duties are ministerial rather than judicial. They are authorized to order arrests, examine witnesses, accept hail or commit for trial, but they are not authorized to hold court.
41. Court proceedings.—Court proceedings are commenced by the plaintiff filing in court a complaint or declaration setting out his grievance. A summons is served on the defendant to appear in court and make answer to the complaint. These, together with other pleadings which may follow, result in an issue being framed upon which the case goes to trial. Evidence is introduced, arguments made by counsel, instructions given by the court to the jury as to the law bearing upon the case, a verdict rendered by the jury, and, unless a motion is made for a new trial, judgment is entered by the court.
In case a motion is made for a new trial, the court sets a time for the hearing of arguments. If the motion is sustained, the verdict is set aside; if overruled, judgment is entered upon the verdict.
Should the defeated party decide to appeal the case, his counsel prepares a transcript of the evidence, notice of the appeal is given to his adversary, and arguments are made before the appellate court. This court may sustain the judgment, or reverse it and order a new trial. In the latter event, the case is tried over again upon the original pleadings.
Enforcing a judgment for damages and costs which the defendant refuses to pay, or a decree of equity which he refuses to perform, necessitates further proceedings. In the former case an execution is issued against his property except that exempt by law, and the sheriff levies upon and sells it to satisfy the judgment. Another mode of enforcing a judgment is for the plaintiff to garnishee one or more creditors of the defendant.
42. Obligations in general.—Obligations may be divided into the following two classes: (a) Legal obligations and (b) moral obligations. Legal obligations are duties which are enforcible at law. Moral obligations are those which are binding upon the conscience, but which are not enforcible at law.
Legal obligations may be subdivided into the following three classes: (1) Contractual, (2) quasi-contractual and (3) non-contractual.
Contractual obligations are founded upon agreement. If, for example, A and B agree that A shall sell to B a certain horse which A owns, for $200, the breach of this contract by either creates a legal obligation enforcible at law, and entitles the other party to damages.
Quasi-contractual obligations are founded to give an efficient remedy and prevent injustice in cases where other relief is impossible but are not based upon actual agreements. The law, by indulging in a fiction, treats them as if they were founded upon such actual agreements. The fiction is, that a promise was made when in reality it was not.
1. A, by mistake, pays money to B, instead of to C to whom he owes it. The law implies a promise on B's part to return the money to A.
2. A steals B's watch. The law implies a promise on A's part to return the watch.
Here B may bring a tort action against A or may elect to sue in quasi-contract. The decisions concerning the so-called waiver of the tort, and the election to sue in quasi-contract differ radically in the various states. One may not always elect the quasi-contract action.
3. A supplies B, a known lunatic who is mentally incapable of making a contract, with necessary food and clothing. The law implies a promise on B's part to pay for them.
Non-contractual obligations are those which are not based upon agreement either express or implied. They are called torts.
4. A negligently runs his bicycle over B who is free from fault in the matter. A commits a tort and is liable in damages to B.
5. A crosses B's garden without express or implied authority. In doing so he commits the tort of trespass and is liable to B in damages for the injury done.
6. A strikes B in anger and without provocation. A commits the tort of assault and battery and is liable to B in damages.
7. A publishes in a newspaper a false and malicious article about B, which is injurious to his reputation. A commits the tort of libel and is liable to B.
13. Property rights.—Property signifies ownership. This ownership may relate to material objects, such as land, horses, automobiles, etc., or to immaterial rights, such as a right to a trade-mark or to a patent.
Property is divided into two classes—real and personal.
Real property is an estate in lands not less than a life estate. It is divided into the following two classes: (1) Estates in fee simple, and (2) estates for life. The former are estates of inheritance. A leasehold estate for a term of years is not real property. Neither is a mortgage on real estate.
Personal property is divided into the following two classes: (1) Chattels real, and (2) chattels personal. The former consists of leasehold estates in lands less than life estates. Chattels personal are subdivided into the following three classes: (a) Corporeal movable objects, such as horses, implements, etc.; (b) incorporeal rights, such as patents, copyrights, trade-marks, etc., and (c) choses-in-action. The last of these consist of rights against persons, such as rights growing out of ownership in promissory notes, or in other classes of contracts.