APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the court.
The object of both these proceedings is to obtain the discharge of Thomas Tinsley from imprisonment under an order committing him for contempt, under the following circumstances:
On April 23, 1896, upon a petition for the appointment of a receiver of the Houston Cemetery Company, a corporation of Texas, filed against the corporation, and against Tinsley, who was its president, and the other officers of the corporation, both as such officers and individually, by some, in behalf of all, of the owners of lots in the cemetery, the District Court of the county of Harris in the State of Texas made an order appointing a receiver of all the property of the corporation, and requiring each of its officers, upon demand of the receiver, to deliver to him any books, papers, money or property, or vouchers for property, within their control, to which the corporation was entitled. Upon appeal by Tinsley and the other defendants from that order it was affirmed, on May 21, 1896, by the Court of Civil Appeals of the State. 36 Southwestern Rep. 802.
On February 2, 1897, the receiver made a motion to the District Court to commit Tinsley for contempt in refusing to deliver to the receiver a minute book, promissory notes of the amount of $1440.50, and a trust fund, amounting to $492.52, belonging to the corporation. A rule to show cause was issued, in answer to which Tinsley averred that the notes and the minute book had been delivered by the corporation to him as collateral security for money advanced by him to the corporation, and that he had made, at the expense to himself of $7.70, an investment of the trust fund in securities which he had offered, and was still ready, to deliver to the receiver upon payment of this sum.
On February 6, 1897, the District Court, after taking evidence and hearing the parties, adjudged that Tinsley was guilty of a contempt in disobeying its former order by not delivering to the receiver the minute book, notes and trust
fund, being the property of the corporation and in his control; and ordered him to pay to the sheriff a fine of $100, and to deliver to the receiver the property aforesaid, and to be committed until he should pay the fine and should (being allowed by the sheriff reasonable opportunity to do so if he should so desire) deliver the property to the receiver, or until he should be discharged by further order of the court. And upon the same day he was accordingly committed to the county jail.
On March 17, 1897, he presented to the judge of the District Court a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, setting forth the above proceedings, and alleging that the judgment and commitment for contempt were void, and his detention under them illegal for these reasons: That his claim to the notes, minute book and trust fund was made in good faith, and that he had the right thereto until deprived thereof by due course of law, and that the proceedings on said motion and said judgment are not due process of law, and that he ought not and cannot be by such proceedings imprisoned or compelled to turn over said property and things, for that thereby he is deprived of a trial by due course of law; that the judgment and commitment were uncertain and indefinite, and did not limit the time of his confinement under them; that the statute of the State provided that the District Court should not have the power to imprison any person for a longer period than three days for a contempt; and that the matters set up in said motion and judgment did not and could not constitute a contempt. This petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the judge of the District Court; but on April 2, 1897, was granted by the presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals of the State of Texas, and a writ of habeas corpus issued, addressed to the sheriff, who, on April 8, returned that he held the prisoner under the commitment for contempt.
After full arguments by both parties, the Court of Criminal Appeals entered judgment, dismissing the writ of habeas corpus, and remanding him to the custody of the sheriff, on the ground that the order of commitment for contempt was within the power of the District Court, at least so far as concerned the notes and minute book, because Tinsley was a
party to the suit in which the receiver was appointed, and claimed no title, other than by way of lien, in the notes and minute book, and such lien, if genuine, would be preserved to him against the property in the hands of the receiver. 40 Southwestern Reporter, 306.
On April 26, 1897, Tinsley filed a motion to set aside that judgment and for a rehearing, which, after further written arguments in his ...