Ex parte American Steel Barrel Company and Elizabeth C. Seaman. riginal, No. 14

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtLurton
Citation33 S.Ct. 1007,230 U.S. 35,57 L.Ed. 1379
Decision Date16 June 1913
Docket NumberNo. 14,O
PartiesEX PARTE AMERICAN STEEL BARREL COMPANY and Elizabeth C. Seaman. riginal

230 U.S. 35
33 S.Ct. 1007
57 L.Ed. 1379
EX PARTE AMERICAN STEEL BARREL COMPANY and Elizabeth C. Seaman.
No. 14, Original.
Argued April 21, 1913.
Decided June 16, 1913.

Page 36

Messrs. John C. Spooner, Aldis B. Browne, Louis O. Van Doren, and G. Murray Hulbert for petitioners.

Messrs. John A. Garver, Edwin T. Rice, and Charles A. Riegelman for respondents.

Mr. Justice Lurton delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a proceeding for a rule on the Honorable Thos. I. Chatfield, district judge of the United States for the eastern district of New York, the Honorable Julius Mayer, district judge for the southern district of New York, and the Honorable E. Henry Lacombe, senior circuit judge for the second judicial circuit of the United States, to show cause why a writ of mandamus shall not be issued commanding the Honorable Thos. I. Chatfield to resume jurisdiction and

Page 37

proceed to hear and determine all matters which may arise or have arisen in a certain proceeding pending in the said district court for the eastern district of New York, wherein the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company has been adjudicated a bankrupt; and directing the vacation of an order made in said case by the Honorable E. Henry Lacombe, as senior circuit judge, on April 2, 1912, designating and appointing the said Judge Mayer district judge to hear and exercise in the eastern district of New York, the same powers that are now vested in the district judges of said district, or either of them, 'and quashing and setting aside all proceedings in said matter of Iron Clad Manufacturing Co., Bankrupt, had before said Honorable Julius M. Mayer . . . subsequent to the said order of Judge Lacombe . . . , and especially commanding the said Judge Chatfield to exercise the jurisdiction thereof which he had and was exercising on and prior to the 29th of March, 1912.'

A rule to show cause issued, and a return has been made.

The question now is whether a writ of mandamus shall issue.

Shortly stated, the facts necessary to be understood are these:

1. Creditors of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company filed on May 23, 1911, a petition in the district court of the United States for the eastern district of New York, praying its adjudication as a bankrupt. The proceeding was long contested, but on December 2, 1911, the company was adjudged judged a bankrupt by Judge Chatfield.

2. In the meantime, controversies had arisen as to what constituted the assets of that company. On June 20, 1911, certain of the creditors filed a petition in the case, charging that the corporate capital, property, and assets of another corporation, the American Steel Barrel Company, belonged to the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company, and had been controlled and managed in the interest of the

Page 38

latter, and praying that the receivership under the proceeding against the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company should be extended to the American Steel Barrel Company.

3. This was bitterly resisted, and the independent ownership of the Steel Barrel Company asserted. Elizabeth C. Seaman was the president and manager of both companies, and the nominal owner of all of the shares in each, save a few qualifying shares in the hands of directors. Mrs. Seaman seems to have been not only active in resisting the proceedings against the Iron Clad Company, but also in resisting every claim to the property of the Steel Barrel Company made by the creditors of the Iron Clad Company.

4. The hearing of this application was postponed from time to time, and there was disagreement as to whether it should be heard upon affidavits before Judge Chatfield, or referred to a commissioner to take proof and report. Finally, on March 15, 1912, Judge Chatfield filed an opinion refusing to extend the receivership to the property of the American Steel Barrel Company, or to take summary possession of its assets, as he had been asked to do. The ground upon which he acted, as shown by his opinion (194 Fed. 906), was that the claim to the assets of the Steel Barrel Company was one which should be asserted in a plenary suit. An order in accordance with this opinion was not entered, because counsel for the creditors asked for time to make a new application, and such application was made on March 29, 1912, followed, however, on the same day, by the filing of an affidavit under § 21 of the Judicial Code [36 Stat. at L. 1090, chap. 231, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 133] to prevent further hearing of the case by Judge Chatfield. That affidavit, in substance, alleged that throughout the proceedings in the case Judge Chatfield had manifested 'a strong bias and prejudice against the petitioning creditors and against their counsel, and has shown a strong bias toward Mrs. Elizabeth C. Seaman,

Page 39

who was and is the sole person interested in the subject-matter of the bankrupt corporation's property other than the creditors.'

The motion to rehear the application to extend the receivership was made when District Judge Veeder was holding the bankrupt court, and was by him at once referred to Judge Chatfield. In view of the filing of the disqualifying affidavit, Judge Chatfield declined to hear the motion and application to reopen and rehear the motion which had been decided by the opinion handed down on March 15th, and made a certificate in these words:

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

IN THE MATTER OF IRON CLAD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, BANKRUPT.*) March 29, 1912.

IN THE MATTER OF A MOTION TO REOPEN THE APPLICATION TO EXTEND RECEIVERSHIP, FOR A DIRECTION THAT THE PETITIONERS BE AFFORDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE TESTIMONY, ETC., AND FOR POSTPONEMENT OF THE ENTRY OF ANY ORDER OR DECREE UPON THE APPLICATION DECIDED MARCH 15, 1912, AND FOR OTHER RELIEF.

Before Veeder, J.

Appearances: Whitridge, Butler & Rice, for petitioning creditors, in support of motion, James A. Allen, specially for Elizabeth C. Seaman and the American Steel Barrel

Page 40

Co., Emanuel Hertz, specially for George A....

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184 practice notes
  • United States v. Boffa, Crim. A. No. 80-36.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • February 19, 1981
    ...were not promptly filed after the facts forming the basis of the disqualification became known. Ex Parte American Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 44, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 57 L.Ed. 1379 (1913); Davis v. Cities Service Oil Co., 420 F.2d 1278, 1282 (C.A.10, 1970); United States v. Hoffa, 382 F.......
  • U.S. v. Bosch, No. 88-5150
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 9, 1991
    ...and a heightened risk that litigants would use recusal motions for strategic purposes (Ex parte American Steel Barrel Co. and Seaman, 230 U.S. 35, 44, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 57 L.Ed. 1379 (1913)). While no per se rule exists regarding the time frame in which recusal motions should be filed af......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Local U. 542, Int. U. of Op. Eng., Civ. A. No. 71-2698.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • December 4, 1974
    ...supra, 302 F.2d at 75. Disqualification will be warranted only if such a personal bias is shown. Ex parte American Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 43, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 57 L.Ed. 1379 (1913); Gallarelli v. United States, 260 F.2d 259, 261 (1st Cir. 1958), cert. denied, 359 U. S. 938, 79 S.......
  • Duplan Corporation v. Deering Milliken, Inc., Civ. A. No. 71-306
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • June 12, 1975
    ...Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction § 3552 (1975) (footnotes omitted). 43 Id. (Footnotes omitted). 44 Ex parte Amer. Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 46, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 57 L.Ed. 1379 45 Chafin v. United States, 5 F.2d 592, 595 (4th Cir. 1925), cert. denied, 269 U.S. 552, 46 S.Ct. 18, 70 L.Ed......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
184 cases
  • United States v. Boffa, Crim. A. No. 80-36.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • February 19, 1981
    ...were not promptly filed after the facts forming the basis of the disqualification became known. Ex Parte American Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 44, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 57 L.Ed. 1379 (1913); Davis v. Cities Service Oil Co., 420 F.2d 1278, 1282 (C.A.10, 1970); United States v. Hoffa, 382 F.......
  • U.S. v. Bosch, No. 88-5150
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 9, 1991
    ...and a heightened risk that litigants would use recusal motions for strategic purposes (Ex parte American Steel Barrel Co. and Seaman, 230 U.S. 35, 44, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 57 L.Ed. 1379 (1913)). While no per se rule exists regarding the time frame in which recusal motions should be filed af......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Local U. 542, Int. U. of Op. Eng., Civ. A. No. 71-2698.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • December 4, 1974
    ...supra, 302 F.2d at 75. Disqualification will be warranted only if such a personal bias is shown. Ex parte American Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 43, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 1010, 57 L.Ed. 1379 (1913); Gallarelli v. United States, 260 F.2d 259, 261 (1st Cir. 1958), cert. denied, 359 U. S. 938, 79 S.......
  • Duplan Corporation v. Deering Milliken, Inc., Civ. A. No. 71-306
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • June 12, 1975
    ...Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction § 3552 (1975) (footnotes omitted). 43 Id. (Footnotes omitted). 44 Ex parte Amer. Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 46, 33 S.Ct. 1007, 57 L.Ed. 1379 45 Chafin v. United States, 5 F.2d 592, 595 (4th Cir. 1925), cert. denied, 269 U.S. 552, 46 S.Ct. 18, 70 L.Ed......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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