Allard v. Estes

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtRUGG
Citation292 Mass. 187,197 N.E. 884
Decision Date26 September 1935
PartiesALLARD v. ESTES.

292 Mass. 187
197 N.E. 884

ALLARD
v.
ESTES.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Bristol.

Sept. 26, 1935.


Action of tort by Hormidas J. Allard against Ralph C. Estes. From an order sustaining the defendant's demurrer to the declaration, plaintiff appeals.

Affirmed.

[197 N.E. 885]


Appeal from [292 Mass. 188]Superior Court, Bristol County; Hanify, Judge.

C. W. Crooker, of Boston, for appellant.

W. A. Swift and W. M. Swift, both of Taunton, for appellee.


RUGG, Chief Justice.

This is an action of tort. The allegations of the declaration in substance are these: The defendant is the judge of the Fourth district court of Bristol. One Bullock brought an action of contract in that

[197 N.E. 886]

court against the plaintiff and recovered judgment, on which execution issued. Supplementary proceedings were instituted against the plaintiff (G. L. [Ter. Ed.] c. 224, §§ 2-30) and on December 10, 1930, the defendant in his judicial capacity made an order requiring the plaintiff to pay the full amount of the execution and the costs of the supplementary proceeding on or before January 10, 1931. On January 9, 1931, the plaintiff filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The attorney for the plaintiff immediately informed in person the defendant as well as the attorney for Bullock that such voluntary petition in bankruptcy had been filed. On January 12, 1931, a petition was filed [292 Mass. 189]in the Fourth district court of Bristol that the plaintiff be required to show cause why he should not be adjudged in contempt for his failure to pay in accordance with the order of December 10, 1930. Thereafter and before any hearing upon this petition, a suggestion of bankruptcy was filed on behalf of the plaintiff with the clerk of the Fourth district court of Bristol. Notwithstanding the filing of such suggestion, the defendant in his judicial capacity, after a hearing on January 21, 1931, ‘in the course of which said suggestion of bankruptcy was specifically pleaded,’ adjudged the plaintiff to be in contempt because of his failure to comply with the previous order of December 10, 1930, and ordered the plaintiff to be committed to the house of correction for two weeks, and he was so committed and confined. Further allegations as conclusions of law are that the order of commitment was without authority under the statutes of this commonwealth and was in violation of the Constitution of the United States and of the Bankruptcy Act of the United States (11 USCA).

A demurrer of the defendant was sustained on the ground that the matters contained in the declaration were insufficient in law to enable the plaintiff to maintain this action. The appeal of the plaintiff from the order sustaining the demurrer brings the case here. G. L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 231, § 96; Samuel v. Page-Storms Drop Forge Co., 243 Mass. 133, 134, 137 N. E. 169;Pollock v. New England Telephone & Telegraph Co. (Mass.) 194 N. E. 133.

It is to be observed that the declaration contains no allegations (1) that the judgment debt on which the supplementary proceedings were founded was a debt dischargeable in bankruptcy, (2) that that fact was set forth in the suggestion of bankruptcy which was filed and pleaded, (3) that this debt was scheduled in the list of his creditors filed in the bankruptcy court, or (4) that the plaintiff has ever been adjudicated a bankrupt.

It is a principle lying at the foundation of our jurisprudence, too well settled to require discussion, that every judge whether of a higher or lower court is exempt from liability to an action for any judgment or decision rendered [292 Mass. 190]in the exercise of jurisdiction vested in him by law. This immunity is founded upon considerations of public policy to the end that the administration of justice may be independent, based upon free and unbiased convictions and not influenced by apprehension of personal consequences. Pratt v. Gardner, 2 Cush. 63, 68, 69, 70,48 Am. Dec. 652;Raymond v. Bolles, 11 Cush. 315, 317;Piper v. Pearson, 2 Gray, 120, 122, 61 Am. Dec. 438;Kelly v. Bemis, 4 Gray, 83, 64 Am. Dec. 50;Kelley v. Dresser, 11 Allen, 31;Hoosac Tunnel Dock & Elevator Co. v. O'Brien, 137 Mass. 424, 426,50 Am. Rep. 323;White v. Morse, 139 Mass. 162, 29 N. E. 539;Stiles v. Municipal Council of Lowell, 233 Mass. 174, 182, 123 N. E. 615, 4 A. L. R. 1365;Jaffarian v. Murphy, 280 Mass. 402, 405, 183 N. E. 110, 85 A. L. R. 293;Spruill v. O'Toole, 64 App. D. C. 85, 74 F.(2d) 559.

It is provided by G. L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 218, § 4, that ‘District courts * * * shall be courts of superior and general jurisdiction with reference to all cases and matters in which they have jurisdiction * * * and the like presumption shall be made in favor of proceedings of such courts as would be made in favor of proceedings of other courts of superior and general jurisdiction.’ Commonwealth v. Duggan, 257 Mass. 465, 469, 154 N. E. 67;Rosen v. United States Rubber Co., 268 Mass. 403, 406, 167 N. E. 655, 65 A. L. R. 1299;Long v. George (Mass.) 195 N. E. 377. This applies to the defendant in his conduct as judge of a district court.

The defendant as the judge of the Fourth district court of Bristol had jurisdiction of the application of Bullock as a judgment creditor for supplementary proceedings against the plaintiff. That was conferred by the express terms of G. L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 224, §§ 1-30.

[197 N.E. 887]

Giarruso v. Payson, 272 Mass. 417, 172 N. E. 610. There are no allegations in the declaration that these proceedings were not properly instituted and regularly prosecuted, or that the plaintiff was not duly before the court on December 10, 1930, when the order was made requiring him to pay the full amount of the execution and costs on or before January 10, 1931, or that that order was not valid. See Pollock v. New England Telephone & Telegraph Co. (Mass.) 194 N. E. 133. The basis of the plaintiff's alleged cause of action is that upon the filing of the voluntary petition in bankruptcy on January 9, 1931, and [292 Mass. 191]the filing and pleading of a suggestion of bankruptcy in the Fourth district court of Bristol on or before January 21, 1931, the defendant was divested of jurisdiction over the supplementary proceedings, and that hence the commitment for contempt for failure to comply with the order of December 10, 1930, constituted false imprisonment, for which the defendant is liable.

It is provided by the United States Bankruptcy Act (Act of July 1, 1898, c. 541, § 9, 30 U. S. Stat., 544, 549, 11 USCA § 27), so far as here material, that ‘(a) A bankrupt shall be exempt from arrest upon civil process except in the following cases: * * * (2) when issued from a State court having jurisdiction, and served within such State, upon a debt or claim from which his discharge in bankruptcy would not be a release.’ It is provided also in section 11a of the same act, 11 USCA § 29(a), that ‘A suit which is founded upon a claim from which a discharge would be a release, and which is pending against a person at the time of the filing of a petition against him, shall be stayed until after an adjudication or the dismissal of the petition; if such person is adjudged a bankrupt, such action may be further stayed until twelve months after the date of such adjudication, or, if within that time such person applies for a discharge, then until the question of such discharge is determined.’ The term ‘arrest’ as used in section 9 exempting a bankrupt from arrest on civil process includes imprisonment. Bloomingdale v. Dreher (C. C. A.) 31 F.(2d) 93, 94. It is said in the opinion in that case that ‘protection afforded is effective immediately after adjudication.’ To the same effect is Bissing v. Turkington, 113 Conn. 737, 742, 157 A. 226, 81 A. L. R. 146. If this be a correct statement of the law, manifestly the plaintiff has no cause of action because there is no allegation in his declaration that he had done more than merely file his petition. It is assumed, however, for the purposes of this decision that the protection is operative from the time of the filing of the petition in bankruptcy in accordance with the definition of bankrupt set forth in the Bankruptcy Act, section 1 of said chapter 541 (11 USCA § 1). The word ‘suit’ in said section 11 (11 USCA § 29) includes proceedings supplementary to execution such as are here in issue. In re [292 Mass. 192]Keenan, 287 Mass. 577, 581, 192 N. E. 65, 96 A. L. R. 679;Worcester Color Co. v. Henry Wood's Sons Co., 209 Mass. 105, 110, 95 N. E. 392;Boston v. Turner, 201 Mass. 190, 196, 87 N. E. 634;Willard v. Kimball, 277 Mass. 350, 357, 178 N. E. 607;Partan v. Niemi, 288 Mass. 111, 114, 192 N. E. 527, 529, 97 A. L. R. 473;Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 407, 5 L. Ed. 257;In re Adler (C. C. A.) 144 F. 659;In re Burke (D. C.) 155 F. 703. Application for a stay of arrest under section 9a(2), 11 USCA § 27(a)(2), and application for stay of suit under section 11a, 11 USCA § 29(a) are no part of the proceedings to obtain a discharge in bankruptcy. Each is a part of the protection given to the bankrupt against dischargeable debts. Each must be presented to the court by proper pleadings. In re Torgovnick (C. C. A.) 49 F.(2d) 211, 212.

The mere filing of a petition in bankruptcy does not of its own force suspend an action or proceeding in a state court or deprive a state court of power to punish for contempt for disregard of its lawful orders. Pickens v. Dent (C. C. A.)...

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50 practice notes
  • Kufner v. Suttell, Civil Action No. 13-12864-DJC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 30 Junio 2016
    ...v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-554 (1967) (noting that absolute judicial immunity protects integrity of judicial process); Allard v. Estes, 292 Mass. 187, 189 (1935) (stating that is it "too well settled to require discussion, that every judge, whether of a higher or lower court, is exempt ......
  • Elias v. Elias, C.A. No. 13-11602-JLT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 15 Julio 2013
    ...Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967) (absolute judicial immunity protects integrity of judicial process); Allard v. Estes, 197 N.E. 884, 886 (Mass. 1935) (stating that is it "too well settled to require discussion, that every judge, whether of a higher or lower court, is exempt ......
  • Gildea v. Ellershaw
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 9 Julio 1973
    ...be independent, based upon free and unbiased convictions and not influenced by apprehension of personal consequences.' Allard v. Estes, 292 Mass. 187, 189--190, 197 N.E. 884, 886, and cases cited. Some of that same language first appeared in Pratt v. Gardner, 2 Cush. 63, 69, a case of first......
  • McKenna v. Andreassi
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 5 Octubre 1935
    ...v. Boston & Maine Railroad, 228 Mass. 472, 476, 477, 117 N. E. 842. See, also, Dowd v. Tighe, 209 Mass. 464, 467, 95 N. E. 853; [197 N.E. 884]McDonough v. Vozzela, 247 Mass. 552, 556, 142 N. E. 831;Herd v. Boston Elevated Railway, 265 Mass. 125, 127, 163 N. E. 862. The judge, however, f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • Kufner v. Suttell, Civil Action No. 13-12864-DJC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 30 Junio 2016
    ...v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-554 (1967) (noting that absolute judicial immunity protects integrity of judicial process); Allard v. Estes, 292 Mass. 187, 189 (1935) (stating that is it "too well settled to require discussion, that every judge, whether of a higher or lower court, is exempt ......
  • Elias v. Elias, C.A. No. 13-11602-JLT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 15 Julio 2013
    ...Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967) (absolute judicial immunity protects integrity of judicial process); Allard v. Estes, 197 N.E. 884, 886 (Mass. 1935) (stating that is it "too well settled to require discussion, that every judge, whether of a higher or lower court, is exempt ......
  • Gildea v. Ellershaw
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 9 Julio 1973
    ...be independent, based upon free and unbiased convictions and not influenced by apprehension of personal consequences.' Allard v. Estes, 292 Mass. 187, 189--190, 197 N.E. 884, 886, and cases cited. Some of that same language first appeared in Pratt v. Gardner, 2 Cush. 63, 69, a case of first......
  • McKenna v. Andreassi
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 5 Octubre 1935
    ...v. Boston & Maine Railroad, 228 Mass. 472, 476, 477, 117 N. E. 842. See, also, Dowd v. Tighe, 209 Mass. 464, 467, 95 N. E. 853; [197 N.E. 884]McDonough v. Vozzela, 247 Mass. 552, 556, 142 N. E. 831;Herd v. Boston Elevated Railway, 265 Mass. 125, 127, 163 N. E. 862. The judge, however, f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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