60 S.E. 928 (S.C. 1908), State ex rel. Lyon v. Murray

Citation60 S.E. 928, 79 S.C. 316
Opinion JudgeWOODS, J.
Party NameSTATE ex rel. LYON, Atty. Gen., v. MURRAY et al.
AttorneyJ. Fraser Lyon, Atty. Gen., and B. L. Abney, for petitioner. W. F. Stevenson, for respondents.
Case DateMarch 14, 1908
CourtSupreme Court of South Carolina

Page 928

60 S.E. 928 (S.C. 1908)

79 S.C. 316

STATE ex rel. LYON, Atty. Gen.,

v.

MURRAY et al.

Supreme Court of South Carolina

March 14, 1908

Application for mandamus by the state, on the relation of J. Fraser Lyon, Attorney General, against W. J. Murray and others, as State Dispensary Commission. Issuance of peremptory writ left in abeyance until further order of the court.

J. Fraser Lyon, Atty. Gen., and B. L. Abney, for petitioner.

W. F. Stevenson, for respondents.

WOODS, J.

The General Assembly by an act approved 24th February, 1908, appropriated

Page 929

the sum of $15,000 to be paid by the State Dispensary Commission out of any funds in its hands into the state treasury for the use of the Attorney General in the conduct of criminal prosecutions against persons charged with violations of law connected in any manner with the state dispensary. For the enforcement of his official rights, Hon. J. Fraser Lyon, Attorney General, filed his petition for mandamus on 2d March, 1908, in this court against W. J. Murray, John McSween, C. K. Henderson, Avery Patton, and B. F. Arthur, as the State Dispensary Commission. The petition alleges the custody by the commission of state funds sufficient to make the payment of the sum appropriated, the demand for payment by the State Treasurer, and the refusal by the commission to comply with his demand. The petition further alleges the payment by the commission of the sum appropriated to be a plain ministerial duty required by statute, and its prayer [79 S.C. 318] is for a writ of mandamus requiring the performance of this duty. Upon this petition, the Chief Justice made an order requiring the respondents, as the State Dispensary Commission, to show cause in this court on 4th of March, 1908, why the mandamus should not issue as prayed for. The State Dispensary Commission in its return and answer admits the statute above recited, requires of them the payment of the sum therein mentioned to the State Treasurer, their custody of funds sufficient to meet the requirement, and the refusal to make the payment. As justification of its refusal to comply with the statute, the commission alleges: "That they are restrained and enjoined by orders of the United States Circuit Court for this circuit from paying any funds into the hands of the State Treasurer, in two cases, to wit: The case of the Wilson Distilling Company v. W. J. Murray and others, a copy of their bill of complaint being hereto attached and marked 'Exhibit A,' along with the restraining order in said case, and an amended bill that has just been filed. And further, that they are restrained by an order in the case of the Fleischmann Company v. W. J. Murray and others, a copy of which bill and restraining order and oral decision as announced is hereto attached and marked 'Exhibit B."' The answer sets out that these orders of injunction were made by the Circuit Court of the United States 160 Fed. ___, notwithstanding respondents plea on the following grounds to the jurisdiction of the court: "(1) The funds in the hands of the 'State Dispensary Commission,' created by the act of February 16, 1907 (Acts 1907, p. 835), belong to and are the property of the state, which has a right to control the same, and, which, through the said commission as its agent, is in possession thereof. (2) The said 'State Dispensary Commission' is the mere agent or instrumentality of the state vested with the ministerial function of winding up the state's dispensary business, selling the goods and property or hand, collecting the debts due the state in connection with the said business, and holding [79 S.C. 319] the proceeds for the State and subject to its rights of disposition thereof; and also vested with the ministerial function of paying the funds held by them for said state such of the said claims as they may upon said investigation find and decide to be just liabilities of the state. (3) The pending action is in effect an action against the state, because it seeks to lay hold of the funds belonging to the state and in the hands of the said commission as its agent, and through the said commission in the possession of the state, and further seeks to have such funds applied to the payment of alleged liabilities of the state. (4) The state cannot be held to have waived its constitutional immunity from suit by the said act creating the 'State Dispensary Commission' except to the extent of the remedies therein provided for and allowed to claimants for the collection of such debts as may be due them by the state in connection with its dispensary business, and therefore such claimants are limited to the remedies therein provided for and allowed. (5) The said act creating the 'State Dispensary Commission' having been passed and the remedies therein provided for having been allowed as a purely voluntary matter on the part of the Legislature of the state, the said act is subject to be repealed, and the allowance of the remedies therein provided for is a subject to be recalled at any time at the pleasure of the Legislature and in its discretion." The pleadings in the causes in the federal court will not be set out in detail. It is sufficient to say the actions were brought by the plaintiffs therein named, claiming to be creditors for liquor sold to the state dispensary against the respondents, constituting the State Dispensary Commission; and in those actions the Circuit Court of the United States has made orders enjoining the respondents from disposing of, except by order of the court, the fund of $800,000, which came into their possession as the commission appointed and organized under the statutes of the state to wind up the state dispensary, and contemplating the adjudication by that [79 S.C. 320] Court of the claims of the plaintiffs and others and the complete control of the entire fund for the satisfaction of such claims as the court might adjudge to be just. Replying to the return of the commission made in this cause, the Attorney General alleges, first, "that the petition in the case of Wilson Distilling Company et al. v. State Dispensary Commission, and the petition in the case of the Fleischmann Company v. State Dispensary Commission, together with the exhibits and orders therewith, show that the said proceedings are suits against the state of South Carolina, and that the Circuit Court of the United States is utterly without jurisdiction in any manner to entertain the same, or to interfere with, or to in any wise restrain,

Page 930

the action of the said Commission;" and, second, "that the property and assets in the hands of the State Dispensary Commission arising from the assets and property of the late state dispensary are the sole property of the state of South Carolina, and the affairs of the late state dispensary are now being concluded and wound up under the terms of an act of the General Assembly of the state of South Carolina approved the 16th day of February, 1907 (25 St. at Large, p. 835), and amended by an act approved the 24th day of February, 1908; that the commission in dealing with said funds cannot be controlled, nor can the disbursement or use of said funds be directed, by any court in equity or otherwise, in any suit in which the state of South Carolina is not a party, as the interests of the state would necessarily be affected directly by any decree or judgment rendered in such suit."

From this statement of the pleadings, it is evident that no issue of fact arises. It is equally evident that, if the Circuit Court of the United States had jurisdiction to enjoin the respondents as the State Dispensary Commission, their answer is a complete defense to the petition for mandamus, for no court would entertain for a moment an application to require parties to do that which they had been required and enjoined not to do by judicial authority. But a judgment by a court without jurisdiction of the parties and subject-matter is a nullity, and must be so treated by other courts whenever and for whatever purpose it is presented and relied on. Elliott v. Peirsol, 1 Pet. (U. S.) 328, 7 L.Ed. 164; Hickey, Lessee, v. Stewart, 44 U.S. 750, 11 L.Ed. 814; Ex parte Bradley, 74 U.S. 364, 19 L.Ed. 214; Fisher v. Harnden, 9 Fed. Cas. 129, No. 4,819; Gray v. Larrimore, 10 Fed. Cas. 1025, No. 5,721; Devall v. Taylor, Cheves, 5; McCall v. Cohen, 13 S.C. 198; State v. Penny, 19 S.C. 218; Canady v. Black, 34 S.C. 194, 13 S.E. 361; Stanley v. Stanley, 35 S.C. 94, 14 S.E. 675; Paul v. Railway Co., 50 S. C., 23, 27 S.E. 526; Beaudrot v. Murphy, 53 S.C. 118, 30 S.E. 825. This principle applies as well to an order of injunction made by a court without jurisdiction, interposed against an application for mandamus, as to any other order or judgment. Ellingsworth v. Carlson 72 Neb. 837, 101 N.W. 1004; State v. Miller (Ohio) 39 N.E. 24; State v. Graves, 66 Neb. 17, 92 N.W. 144. The exception is that a decree of the Supreme Court of the United States is binding on all the courts of the land, and the decisions of the appellate courts of each state and of the United States are binding upon the courts subordinate to them.

The consideration of the question, whether that which purports to be the judgment of another court is void for lack of jurisdiction, is always to be entered on with deference by the court before which the question is made; and the opinion of a court of exalted dignity and acknowledged ability in favor of its own jurisdiction, like its opinion on other subjects, should have a strong persuasive influence in favor of the conclusion it has reached. There is no reason for anxiety or asperity on account of differences between courts of the United States and the state courts. These differences must sometimes arise under our dual system of government, but they are consistent with cordial amity between the courts, and may be readily and...

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18 practice notes
  • 150 So. 760 (Miss. 1933), 29601, State v. Woodruff
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • October 30, 1933
    ...135 N.W. 265; Williamson v. Richards, 158 S.C. 534, 155 S.E. 890; State v. Murray et al., as State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928, affirmed Murray v. South Carolina ex rel. Ray, 213 U.S. 174, 29 S.Ct. 465, 53 L.Ed. 752. In So. & No. Ala. R. Co. v. Alabama, supra, the st......
  • 90 S.E.2d 635 (S.C. 1955), 17098, Wilder v. South Carolina State Highway Dept.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 19, 1955
    ...No court has a right to abate one jot or tittle of such condition.' State ex rel. Lyon v. State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928, 934. Under Section 46-50 it is a condition to the right of a refund that [228 S.C. 456] application be made therefor 'within six months after the ......
  • 214 Cal. 369, Sac. 4412, Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court of California
    • November 30, 1931
    ...527, 15 L.Ed. 991; State & S. Watson v. Bank of Tennessee, 3 Baxt. (62 Tenn.) 395; State v. State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928; Board of Supervisors v. Auditor General, 68 Mich, 659, 36 N.W. 794; O'Neil v. State, 223 N.Y. 40, 119 N.E. 95. While we recognize the rule r......
  • 34 S.E.2d 484 (S.C. 1945), 15745, Rushton v. South Carolina State Highway Dept.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 12, 1945
    ...prosecuted to judgment. Cope v. Hampton County, 42 S.C. 17, 19 S.E. 1018; State ex rel. Lyon v. State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928; Bell v. Highway Department, 204 S.C. 462, 30 S.E.2d 65. By the same token, passage of the amendment of 1944 relieved appellant, and others s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • 150 So. 760 (Miss. 1933), 29601, State v. Woodruff
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • October 30, 1933
    ...135 N.W. 265; Williamson v. Richards, 158 S.C. 534, 155 S.E. 890; State v. Murray et al., as State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928, affirmed Murray v. South Carolina ex rel. Ray, 213 U.S. 174, 29 S.Ct. 465, 53 L.Ed. 752. In So. & No. Ala. R. Co. v. Alabama, supra, the st......
  • 90 S.E.2d 635 (S.C. 1955), 17098, Wilder v. South Carolina State Highway Dept.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 19, 1955
    ...No court has a right to abate one jot or tittle of such condition.' State ex rel. Lyon v. State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928, 934. Under Section 46-50 it is a condition to the right of a refund that [228 S.C. 456] application be made therefor 'within six months after the ......
  • 214 Cal. 369, Sac. 4412, Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court of California
    • November 30, 1931
    ...527, 15 L.Ed. 991; State & S. Watson v. Bank of Tennessee, 3 Baxt. (62 Tenn.) 395; State v. State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928; Board of Supervisors v. Auditor General, 68 Mich, 659, 36 N.W. 794; O'Neil v. State, 223 N.Y. 40, 119 N.E. 95. While we recognize the rule r......
  • 34 S.E.2d 484 (S.C. 1945), 15745, Rushton v. South Carolina State Highway Dept.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 12, 1945
    ...prosecuted to judgment. Cope v. Hampton County, 42 S.C. 17, 19 S.E. 1018; State ex rel. Lyon v. State Dispensary Commission, 79 S.C. 316, 60 S.E. 928; Bell v. Highway Department, 204 S.C. 462, 30 S.E.2d 65. By the same token, passage of the amendment of 1944 relieved appellant, and others s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results