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WARD v. COCHRAN.

decided: December 18, 1893.

WARD
v.
COCHRAN.



ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA.

Author: Shiras

[ 150 U.S. Page 602]

 MR. JUSTICE SHIRAS, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

Objection is made that the bills of exception were not allowed and signed either at the trial or the judgment term, and the case of Muller v. Ehlers, 91 U.S. 249, is cited to show that we cannot consider them for that reason.

From the record, it does indeed appear that the bills of exception were not allowed and signed during the term at which the judgment was rendered, but it also appears that, at said term, an order was entered stating that, inasmuch as the bills of exception could not be completed at that term, the time for preparing and presenting them was extended till February 1, 1890, at which time bills of exception might be allowed and signed with the same force and effect as if said action had been had within the usual time; and it also appears that on January 18, 1890, plaintiff's counsel served defendant's counsel with a copy of the bills of exception proposed, with notice that they would be presented for the judge's consideration on January 27, 1890. On that day, defendant's counsel did not appear, and thereupon the court entered an order, reciting the foregoing facts, and directing that the bills of exception be filed with the clerk of the court, and that defendant should have thirty days in which to file suggestions of amendment thereto, and continuing the cause till the further order of the court for the purpose of settling, allowing, and signing the bills; and it further appears that on March 1, 1890, the bills of exception were finally signed by the judge and filed. The record also discloses that the defendant protested against the action of the court in extending the time and in allowing and signing the bill of exceptions after the expiration of the term at which the judgment was rendered.

In the case of Muller v. Ehlers, relied on by the defendant in error, this court did hold that because the bill of exceptions had not been signed at or during the term at which the judgment

[ 150 U.S. Page 603]

     was rendered, it could not be considered, and expressed itself as follows: "As early as Walton v. United States, 9 Wheat. 651, the power to reduce exceptions taken at the trial to form and to have them signed and filed was, under ordinary circumstances, confined to a time not later than the term at which the judgment was rendered. This, we think, is the true rule, and one to which there should be no exceptions, without an express order of the court during the term or consent of the parties save under very extraordinary circumstances. Here we find no order of the court, no consent of the parties, and no such circumstances at will justify a departure from the rule. A judge cannot act judicially upon the rights of parties, after the parties in due course of proceedings have both in law and in fact been dismissed from the court."

As we have seen, the present record discloses "an express order of the court during the judgment term, continuing the cause for the purpose of settling, allowing, signing, and filing the bills of exception," and this case is thus brought within the ruling in Muller v. Ehlers.

Our most recent utterance on this subject was in Morse v. Anderson, ante, 158, where it was held that this court would not review bills of exception signed after the time fixed by a special order of the court had expired.

As this record discloses that the exceptions relied on were taken at the trial, and that the delay was in reliance on an express order of the court, postponing the act of allowing and signing the bills, we think that we are not precluded from a consideration of the errors assigned.

A further preliminary objection is urged to the form of the bill of exceptions, which is said to be a mere transcript of the entire testimony and of the charge, and the case of Hanna v. Maas, 122 U.S. 24, is cited.

In that case it was held that when a bill of exceptions is so framed as not to present any question of law in a form to be revised by this court, the judgment must be affirmed, but the facts of the case were thus stated: "This bill of exceptions has been framed and allowed in disregard of the settled rules of law upon the subject. No ruling upon evidence is

[ 150 U.S. Page 604]

     open to revision, because none appear to have been excepted to; and the overruling of the motion for a new trial is not a subject of exception. The bill of exceptions, instead of stating distinctly, as required by law and by the 4th Rule of this court, those matters of law in the charge which are excepted to, and those only, does not contain any part of the charge, or any exception to it, and undertakes to supply the want by referring to exhibits annexed, containing all the evidence introduced at the trial, the whole charge to the jury, and notes of a desultory conversation which followed between the judge and the counsel on both sides, leaving it to this court to pick out from those notes, if possible, a sufficient statement of some ruling in matter of law,"

The present record presents a very different condition of facts, as the bill of exceptions, in so far as it relates to the charge, specifies with distinctness the parts of the charge excepted to and the legal propositions to which exceptions are taken. The view we take of the case does not compel us to consider the objections taken to the admission or rejection of evidence, and we are ...


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