59 U.S. 595 (1856), Pease v. Peck

Citation:59 U.S. 595, 15 L.Ed. 518
Party Name:WILLIAM C. PEASE, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR, v. JOHN PECK, SURVIVING PARTNER OF THE FIRM OF PECK AND WALTON.
Case Date:May 14, 1856
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 595

59 U.S. 595 (1856)

15 L.Ed. 518

WILLIAM C. PEASE, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR,

v.

JOHN PECK, SURVIVING PARTNER OF THE FIRM OF PECK AND WALTON.

United States Supreme Court.

May 14, 1856

OPINION

THIS case was brought up by writ of error for the circuit court of the United States for the district of Michigan.

The case is stated in the opinion of the court.

COUNSEL

It was argued by Mr. Lawrence, for the plaintiff in error, adopting also an argument filed by Mr. Emmons and Mr. Grey; and for the defendant in error by Mr. Badger, upon a brief filed by himself and Mr. Carlisle.

Mr. Justice GRIER delivered the opinion of the court.

Peck the plaintiff below, declared against Pease in an action of debt on a judgment obtained in the circuit court of the territory (now State) of Michigan, at the term of January, 1836. The defendant pleaded the statute of limitations of eight years; to which the plaintiff replied that he did not at any time reside in the State of Michigan, but in parts 'beyond seas,' to wit, in the State of New York.

The defendant demurred to the replication.

The objection to this replication is not to the construction of the statute which is assumed by the plaintiff to govern the case, or an allegation that, according to the settled construction of the word 'beyond seas,' the replication is defective. But it is intended to deny that the statute of limitations pleaded has any such provision in it. The question is, therefore, not what is the construction of an admitted statute, but what is the statute. For each party admits that if the statute be as claimed by his opponent, his construction of it is correct.

By the ordinance of 1787, 'for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio,' it is provided 'that the governor and judges, or a majority of them shall adopt and publish in the district such laws of the original States, criminal and civil, as may be necessary and best suited to the circumstances of the district, and report them to congress from time to time, which laws shall be in force in the district

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until the organization of the general assembly therein, unless disapproved of by congress; but afterwards the legislature shall have authority to alter them, as they shall see fit.'

By an act of congress of 24th April, 1820, 3 Stats. at Large, 565, the laws of Michigan territory in force, were ordered to be printed under the direction of the secretary of state, and a competent number distributed to the people of said territory.

In the volume of the laws so published by authority in that year, is a statute of limitations, which the governor and judges certify to have been 'adopted from the laws of the State of Vermont, as far as necessary and suitable to the circumstances of the territory of Michigan.'

The eighth section of this act provides that 'actions of debt or scire facias on judgment must be brought within eight years after the rendition of the judgment, &c.'

The 10th section enacts that 'this act shall not extend to bar any infant,feme covert, person imprisoned, or beyond seas, or without the United States, or non compos mentis, &c.'

On the 21st of April, 1825, the legislature of the territory, which had been now organized, appointed certain individuals to revise the laws of the territory. They were required 'to examine all the laws then in force, to revise, consolidate, and digest them, making such alterations or additions as they may deem expendient.'

On the 27th of December, 1826, the commissioners report to the legislature the statutes as revised by them, stating that considerable alterations and some additions had been made by them. These laws received the sanction of the legislature, and were published by authority, in 1827. By this it appears that they adopted the statute of limitations, and the 10th section thereof, from the published acts of 1820, and as stated above. Again, in 1833, 'the laws of the territory of Michigan were condensed, arranged, and passed by the fifth legislative council,' and were again published under authority...

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