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convey did not become binding until the services were rendered, and, when rendered, according to the allegations of the bill they were legitimate. We assume that they were legitimate, but the validity of the contract depends on the nature of the original offer, and whatever their form the tendency of such offers is the same. The objection to them rests in their tendency, not in what was done in the particular case. Therefore a court will not be governed by the technical argument that when the offer became binding it was cut down to what was done and was harmless. The court will not inquire what was done. If that should be improper it probably would be hidden and would not appear. In its inception the offer, however intended, necessarily invited and tended to induce improper solicitations, and it intensified the inducement by the contingency of the reward. Marshall v. B. &0. R. R., 16 How. 314, 335, 336.
The general principle was laid down broadly in Tool Co. v. Norris, 2 Wall. 45, 54, that an agreement for compensation to procure a contract from the Government to furnish its supplies could not be enforced irrespective of the question whether improper means were contemplated or used for procuring it. McMullen v. Hoffman, 174 U. S. 639, 648. And it was said that there is no real difference in principle between agreements to procure favors from legislative bodies, and agreements to procure favors in the shape of contracts from the heads of departments. 2 Wall. 55. In Marshall v. Baltimore & Ohio R. R., 16 How. 314, 336, it was said that all contracts for a contingent compensation for obtaining legislation were void, citing, among other cases, Clippinger v. Hepbaugh, 5 W. & S. 315, and Wood v. McCann, 6 Dana (Ky.), 366. See also · Mills v. Mills, 40 N. Y. 543. There are other objections which would have to be answered before the bill could be sustained, but that which we have stated goes to the root of the contract and is enough to dispose of the case under the decisions heretofore made.
Statement of the Case.
PEREZ v. FERNANDEZ.
ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
DISTRICT OF PORTO RICO.
No. 1. Argued April 29, 1904.-Decided April 23, 1906.
The policy of the United States, evidenced in its legislation concerning the
islands ceded by Spain, has been to secure to the people thereof a continuation of the laws and methods of practice and administration familiar to them, which are to be controlling until changed by law, and it was the intention of Congress in sec. 34 of the Foraker act of April 12, 1900, to require the United States District Court for Porto Rico, in exercising the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court in analogy to the powers of those courts in the United States, to adapt itself, in cases other than of equity and admiralty, to the local procedure and practice of Porto Rico. And so held in regard to administering the remedy of attachment. The Porto Rican system in force when the Foraker act was passed, and
binding until changed or amended, provided a statutory method for recovery of damages by reason of an attachment wrongfully issued and vacated, by the assessment thereof and judgment therefor in the attachment suit itself, which method was exclusive and precluded the recovery of such damages by separate suit at common law; and the District Court of Porto Rico has no jurisdiction of such an action. In such a case it could proceed in accordance with the local law, as nothing in the general law of the United States or provisions as to jury trials in civil causes in Circuit Courts of the United States is inconsistent with the enforcement by the District Court of the United States of Porto Rico of special
statutory proceedings in assessing damages in attachment proceedings. Where the jurisdiction of the court from which the record comes fails, the
objection can be raised in this court, if not by the parties, then by the court itself.
An action at law was begun November 18, 1901, in the United States District Court for the District of Porto Rico by the defendant in error, José Perez y Fernandez, against José Antonio Fernandez y Perez, to recover in an action for "tresspass upon the case for wrongful attachment.” The declaration contained the usual averments of a declaration in a common law action and averred that the attachment had been issued maliciously
and without probable cause, and levied upon a certain twostory house then belonging to the defendant in error, in Mayaguez, Porto Rico. One Rafael Diaz Aguerria was made codefendant, and it was averred that the attachment was issued in a suit brought by Fernandez as attorney in fact and agent of Aguerria, who authorized and ratified the acts complained of. It appeared that the defendant in error Perez had owed about 6,000 pesos to one Claudio Barro, who died, leaving a will in which Rafael Diaz Aguerria was named as executor. The will was probated in Spain, and Aguerria qualified there as executor of the estate. Perez, on November 10, 1899, recorded a mortgage in favor of one Don Victor Ochoa y Perez for 20,000 pesos. The suit in which the attachment was issued was begun January 2, 1900, by the filing of a declaration to recover on certain notes, and was brought in the name of Aguerria as executor of the last will and testament of Claudio Barro. The action was begun in the military court established by the authority of the United States after the cession of Porto Rico, called the United States Provisional Court for the Department of Porto Rico, which court was succeeded by the United States District Court. On the date of the beginning of the suit an affidavit for attachment was filed, which was sworn to by Fernandez, plaintiff in error, purporting to have the power of attorney of Rafael Diaz Aguerria, executor of the last will and testament of Claudio Barro, the ground alleged being that the affiant had reason to believe that the defendant intended to and would fraudulently part with or conceal his property before judgment could be recovered against him, so that the judgment could not be satisfied out of the property. The summons was issued, and a writ of attachment was levied upon the premises of the defendant in error, and notice posted thereon. Further proceedings were arrested by an injunction proceeding in the United States court, brought by Jacinto Perez Barro, heir of Claudio Barro, deceased, upon the ground that Aguerria, plaintiff in the attachment proceeding, suing as executor of the will probated in Spain, had not taken out ancillary letters in
Argument for Plaintiff in Error.
Porto Rico. The action for malicious attachment was joint in form and the summons was returned as to Aguerria that the marshal was unable to find him within his district. The declaration averred that he was a resident of Porto Rico, but he was never served with summons in this case. Fernandez demurred to the declaration, averring that it appeared on its face that he was acting as the duly authorized agent of Aguerria, and was neither principal nor party plaintiff to the action against Perez, the defendant in error. This demurrer was overruled, and no exception taken to such action by Fernandez. Afterwards the general issue was filed, the case was tried to a jury without objection and upon a charge of the court, substantially leaving to the jury the question whether Fernandez had caused the attachment to issue and be levied maliciously and without probable cause, to the injury of the standing and credit of the defendant in error as a merchant. A verdict was returned in favor of the defendant in error for the sum of $7,000, upon which a motion for a new trial was overruled and judgment entered.
Mr. James S. Harlan, with whom Mr. John Maynard Harlan was on the brief, for plaintiff in error:
The lower court in the consideration of the case assumed jurisdiction on the theory that the pleadings presented a right at common law which it could properly proceed to try according to the common law. No such right existed under the local law apart from and independently of the original attachment proceeding, and the right to enforce such a demand existed only as an incident to and as a part of the original action in attachment, that remedy being exclusive of all other remedies.
It follows that the lower court assumed jurisdiction in this case of a cause of action that was not authorized by the local system of laws and that could not have been enforced in the local courts. It therefore had no legal existence, and could not be enforced in the United States District Court for the District of Porto Rico, for the jurisdiction of that court is concur
202 U. S.
Argument for Plaintiff in Error,
rent with that of the local courts. Aside from its special jurisdiction in equity and admiralty, and in controversies involving Federal questions, it could not take cognizance of any right or claim that was not cognizable under the local law in the local courts or enforce any remedy not enforceable by the local courts.
If, therefore, the lack of jurisdiction was complete, it is clear that this court may now consider the question of jurisdiction and should reverse the judgment of the court below upon the ground that that court assumed jurisdiction where none existed and granted a remedy without legal warrant. Campbell v. Porter, 162 U. S. 478; Nigh v. Dovel, 84 Ill. App. 228; Thompson v. Railroad Companies, 6 Wall. 134; Allen v. Pullman Co., 139 U. S. 658; Parker v. Ormsby, 141 U.S. 81; Mansfield &c. Ry. v. Swan, 111 U. S. 379; United States v. Huckabee, 16 Wall. 414; Fiester v. Shepard, 92 N. Y. 251; Fowler v. Eddy, 110 Pa. St. 117; Fairfax Mfg. Co. v. Chambers, 75 Maryland, 604; Forsyth v. Hammond, 142 Indiana, 505. Independent civil actions based on torts are practically unknown in the civil law. The criminal laws usually provide money compensation for the injured party as well as punishment for the guilty one. Sanchez, Roman Civil Law of Spain, vol. 4, p. 1017; Falcon, Civil Code, p. 429; Penal Code Porto Rico, arts. 16, 613, 627. See article by Judge Lobinger, Review of Reviews, September, 1905.
The damages awarded in this action of trespass on the case could have been assessed in the original attachment proceeding.
The Spanish law in relation to provisional seizures or attachments is found in title XIV of the Code of Civil Procedure.
But, unlike attachment proceedings as commonly established by legislation in the United States, the Spanish law, in force in Porto Rico at the time involved in this record, provides, in case the attachment is vacated for any cause, for an adjudication, in the action itself, of the claim of the defendant for damages arising out of the wrongful attachment. Title XIV of