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THORP v. BONNIFIELD.

decided: March 19, 1900.

THORP
v.
BONNIFIELD.



TRANSFERRED FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Author: PECKHAM

[ 177 U.S. Page 15]

 MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM delivered the opinion of the court.

This case has been transferred from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, under and by virtue of an act of Congress, (30 St. 728,) providing for such transfer. The act is set forth in the margin.*fn1

[ 177 U.S. Page 16]

     By the terms of this act it is to operate only upon those cases of which this court would have had jurisdiction under the law existing at the time the case was taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals, if a proper appeal had been taken to this court at the time the case was filed in the Circuit Court of Appeals. If this act be valid therefore, we must inquire whether the case was one over which this court would have had jurisdiction if a proper appeal had been taken.

The case was commenced in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska in April, 1895, for the purpose of recovering moneys alleged to be due under the terms of a contract for the leasing of certain mining properties, situated in that district. The plaintiffs (defendants in error) demanded judgment for $7231.25, besides costs of the action. The defendant (plaintiff in error) demurred to the complaint on the ground that it did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The demurrer was overruled and leave given to answer, which the defendant failed to do within the time granted, and judgment was entered by default for the amount claimed in the complaint, with costs.

The defendant then moved to vacate and set aside the judgment, and that motion was denied, and he sued out a writ of error from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The defendants in error moved to dismiss the writ on the ground that the Circuit Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction.

The Circuit Court of Appeals certified the question to this court for the purpose of receiving its instruction upon the question of jurisdiction. This court answered the question in the negative, denying the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Appeals.

[ 177 U.S. Page 17168]

     U.S. 703. The mandate from this court was duly issued, and the Circuit Court of Appeals in conformity therewith dismissed the writ of error, and on January 4, 1898, it issued its mandate to that effect, directed to the District Court of the United States for the District of Alaska, which was filed in the office of the clerk of that court on February 3, 1898, and in obedience to that mandate the writ of error was duly dismissed by the District Court.

On March 29, 1898, an execution upon the original judgment was issued from the District Court, directed to the United States marshal of the district, under which certain property of the defendant was sold and a return made by the marshal to the court, and on June 14, 1898, the sale was duly confirmed by the District Court.

It thus appears that nearly a month before the passage of the act of July 8, 1898, (supra,) the judgment of the District Court of Alaska had been carried into effect, an execution issued, the property sold, a report made of the sale to the court, and that sale confirmed.

The defendants in error made a motion in this court to dismiss the writ for want of jurisdiction. That motion was postponed by the court until the hearing of the case upon its merits, and upon the argument thereof the motion to dismiss was renewed upon the ground (among others) that the act of ...


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