MAHAN V. UNITED STATES, 81 U. S. 109 (1871)

Subscribe to Cases that cite 81 U. S. 109 RSS feed for this section

U.S. Supreme Court

Mahan v. United States, 81 U.S. 14 Wall. 109 109 (1871)

Mahan v. United States

81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 109


1. The 4th and 5th rules regulating appeals from the Court of Claims were designed to enable a party to secure a finding of fact on any point material to the decision by that court.

2. But a failure of the court to find the fact as the party alleges it to be will not justify the bringing of all the evidence on that subject before this

Some years ago, by act of Congress, appeals were allowed from the Court of Claims to this Court, and this Court, in conformity with authority given in the act, prescribed certain rules under which the appeals might be heard. They were thus:


"In all cases hereafter decided in the Court of Claims in which, by the act of Congress, such appeals are allowable, they shall be heard in the Supreme Court upon the following record, and none other:"

"1. A transcript of the pleadings in the case, of the final judgment or decree of the court, and of such interlocutory orders, rulings, judgments, and decrees, as may be necessary to a proper review of the case."

"2. A finding of the facts in the case by said Court of Claims, and the conclusions of law on said facts on which the court founds its judgment or decree. "

Page 81 U. S. 110

"The finding of the facts and the conclusions of law to be stated separately and certified to this Court as part of the record."

"The facts so found are to be the ultimate facts or propositions which the evidence shall establish, in the nature of a special verdict, and not the evidence on which those ultimate facts are founded."


In all cases in which judgments or decrees have heretofore been rendered where either party is by law entitled to an appeal, the party desiring it shall make application to the Court of Claims by petition for the allowance of such appeal. Said petition shall contain a distinct specification of the errors alleged to have been committed by said court in its rulings, judgment, or decree in the case. The court shall, if the specification of alleged error be correctly and accurately stated, certify the same, or may certify such alterations and modifications of the points decided and alleged for error as in the judgment of said court shall distinctly, fully, and fairly present the points decided by the court. This, with the transcript mentioned in Rule 1 (except the statement of facts and law therein mentioned), shall constitute the record on which those cases shall be heard in the Supreme Court.


"In all cases, an order of allowance of appeal by the Court of Claims, or the chief justice thereof in vacation, is essential, and the limitation of time for granting such appeal shall cease to run from the time an application is made for the allowance of appeal."

These rules not being found quite sufficient, this Court at a later date (December Term 1869) adopted two additional rules, thus:


" In all cases in which either party is entitled to appeal to the Supreme Court, the Court of Claims shall make and file their finding of facts, and their conclusions of law therein, in open court, before or at the time they enter their judgment in the case."


In all such cases either party, on or before the hearing of the chanrobles.com-red

Page 81 U. S. 111

cause, may submit to the court a written request to find specifically as to the matter of fact which such party may deem material to the judgment in the case, and if the court fails or refuses to find in accordance with such prayer, then such prayer and refusal shall be made a part of the record, certified on the appeal, to this Court.

In this state of the rules, Mrs. E. Mahan, claiming certain property in the Treasury of the United States and having made a claim and produced her evidence in the Court of Claims, filed a written request to the court, before its decree was rendered, that it would find as a matter of fact that the title and ownership of the property in question was in her and that she was entitled to recover the proceeds thereof. The court refused to do this, but found, to the contrary, that she was not the owner of the captured property and was not entitled to the proceeds of it in the Treasury.

Having set forth these facts in this Court, where the case had now been brought by her on appeal, her counsel, Mr. R. M. Corwine, now moved to remand the case for further findings, maintaining that, under Rule 5, above quoted, regulating appeals from the Court of Claims, she was entitled to have all the evidence which was before the Court of Claims brought here, and have this Court decide the question which she propounded to that court.

And it was argued by him that these rules, especially the 4th and 5th rules, were adopted in order and to the end that disputed questions of fact might be brought here for review.