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(CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. LOCAL Law.)
MAYHEW v. THATCHER et al.
As by the laws of Louisiana, questions of fact in civil cases are tried
by the Court, unless either of the parties demands a jury; in an action of debt on a judgment, the interest on the original judgment may be computed and make part of the judgmeat in Louisiana,
without a writ of inquiry and the intervention of a jury. The record of a judgment in one State, is conclusive evidence in ano
ther, although it appears that the suit, in which it was rendered, was commenced by an attachment of property, the defendant having afterwards appeared and taken defence.
ERROR to the District Court of Louisiana.
This was an action of debt commenced by the defendants in error against the plaintiff in error in the District Court of Louisiana, upon a judgment obtained in the Circuit Court of Massachusetts. The original suit, in which the judgment was obtained, was commenced by a process of foreign attachment, according to the local laws of Massachusetts; but the defendant, Mayhew, subsequently appeared and took defence. The cause was referred to arbitrators, and judgment rendered upon their report against the defendant, Mayhew, for the sum of $4,788 57 'debt, and $284 33 cents costs. The defendants in error having declared upon this judgment against the plaintiff in the District Court of Louisiana, the plaintiff in error pleaded nil debet, to which plea there was a general demurrer, and judgment being rendered thereon for the defendants in error, for the
sum of 5,072 dollars and 90 cents debt, with interest thereon, &c. and the cause was brought before this Court.
This cause was argued by Mr. C. J. Ingersoll, for the plaintiff in error, and by Mr. Hopkinson and Mr. Mills for the defendants in error.
Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court, that as by the local laws and practice of Louisiana, questions of fact in civil cases were tried by the Court, unless either of the parties demanded a jury, the interest upon the original judgment in Massachusetts might be computed, and make a part of the judgment in Louisiana, without a writ of inquiry and the intervention of a jury. And that although the original suit was commenced by an attachment, yet that the defendant, Mayhew, had personal notice of the suit, and afterwards appeared and took defence, so that even supposing there was any objection to the proceeding by attachment, it was cured by the appearance of the defendant, and his litigating the suit.
a The latter cited Brown v. Van Braam, 3 Dall. 344. Renner v. Marshall, 1 Wheat. Rep. 215. to show that where the action is brought for a sum certain, or which may be made certain by computation, judgment for the damages may be entered up by the Court without a writ of inquiry.
FARMERS AND MECHANICS' BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA
An act of a State Legislature which discharges a debtor from all lia
bility for debts contracted previous to his discharge, on bis surrendering his property for the benefit of bis creditors, is a law impairing the obligation of contracts within the meaning of the constitution of the United States, so far as, it attempts to discharge the contract : and it makes no difference in such a case, that the suit was brought in a State Court of the State, of which both the parties were citizens, where the contract was made, and the discharge obtained, and where they continued to reside until the suit was brought.
ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania.
This was an action of assumpsit brought by the plaintiffs in error, in the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, against the defendant in error, as endorser of a promissory note, made at Philadelphia by one Edward Shoemaker, on the 6th of June, 1811, for 2,500 dollars, payable in six months after date, and endorsed by the defendant to the plaintiffs at the same place, on the same day, The declaration was in the usual form; and the defendant pleaded, that on the 8th day of September, 1812, he was a citizen of the said Commonwealth, residing in the city and county of Philadelphia, and having resided there for more than two years before that time, and that being such citizen and resident, he, the defendant, in conformity to the act of the
Legislature of the said Commonwealth, passed on
the 13th of March, 1812, entitled, “ An act for the Farmers and Mechanics' relief of insolvent debtors residing in the city and Pennsylvania county of Philadelphia,” did, on the said 8th day of Smith.
September, 1812, at the city of Philadelphia aforesaid, present his petition to Charles Jared Ingersoll, &c. the Commissioners appointed under and by virtue of said act, &c. ; in which petition, he, the said petitioner, did state his belief, that he was insolvent, and did pray that he might be permitted to assign all his estate and property for the benefit of his creditors, and be discharged by virtue of said act. Whereupon the said Commissioners did appoint Mathew Randall, &c. to be curators, to whom the defendant did thereupon forthwith assign all his estate, real and personal, in conformity with the provisions of the said act. And the said Commissioners did then and there appoint the second day of October, 1812, aforesaid, for the hearing the defendant and his creditors, of which due notice was given according to the provisions of the act aforesaid. Upon which day, &c. the said petitioner did exhibit a true account and list of all his creditors, and moneys due, and to become due, and owing to them respectively by him; and, also, an inventory and account of his estate, real and personal, and of all interest of him, the said petitioner, either present or contingent, in any thing of value, and of all books, vouchers, and securities relating to the same. And thereupon the said Charles Jared Ingersoll, one of the said Commissioners, did administer to him, the said petitioner, the oath required by the said law, which was duly
taken by him, the said petitioner, according to the requisition of the said law. And, afterwards, &c. Farmers and the said Commissioners did assign to Chandler Mechanics Price, &c., who were duly nominated and appointed Pennsylvania assignees, all the estate, real and personal, of him the said petitioner, or which was of him the said petitioner, at the time of the provisional assignment so as aforesaid made to the curators aforesaid. And the said Commissioners did appoint the 15th day of October, then next, for a second examination of him the said petitioner. Upon which second examination, it appearing to the satisfaction of the said Commissioners, that the said petitioner had not concealed any part of his property, &c., and he, the said petitioner, having also, in all other things, conformed to the provisions of the said act, the said Commissioners did, then and there, give to him, the said petitioner, a certificate, under their hands and seals, that he, the said petitioner, had, in all things, conformed to, and was discharged by, said act. The plea also averred, that the cause of action arose in the city and county of Philadelphia, from contracts made within the same, and that the plaintiffs and defendants were, at the time the said contracts were made, and at the time the causes of action accrued, and at the time the said act passed, citizens of the State of Pennsylvania, and still continued to be citizens thereof. To this plea there was a demurrer; and judgment being rendered thereon for the defendant, the cause was brought by writ of error to this Court.