Hardee v. Wilson, 34

Decision Date21 November 1892
Docket NumberNo. 34,34
Citation13 S.Ct. 39,36 L.Ed. 933,146 U.S. 179
PartiesHARDEE et al. v. WILSON
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Wm. D. Harden and C. N. West, for appellants.

T. P. Ravenel and Rufus E. Leiter, for appellee.

Mr. Justice SHIRAS delivered the opinion of the court.

It appears by this record that Benjamin J. Wilson filed in the superior court of Washington county, in the state of Georgia, his bill of complaint against James M. Minor, Annie E. Minor, and John L. Hardee, and that the cause was subsequently removed into the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of Georgia. In his bill the complainant charged that a certain conveyance of land, made on the 18th day of March, 1876, by said James M. Minor to himself as trustee for his wife, Annie E. Minor, and a certain other deed of conveyance of the same lands, made on the 6th day of February, 1877, to John L. Hardee, were without consideration, and with the intention of putting said lands beyond the reach of his creditors, and particularly with the intention to delay, hinder, and defraud him, the said complainant, in the collection of a certain judgment in his favor against Minor, and prayed that said deeds might be declared null and void as to his said demand.

Answers were filed to this bill by Hardee, and by Minor and his wife, and the case was so proceeded with that, on the 12th day of December, 1887, a final decree was entered declaring, in effect, that the trust deed in favor of Minor's wife was void, and that the deed to Hardee could only operate as a security for the payment of a certain sum of money found to be due Hardee on an account stated by a master.

From this decree Hardee has appealed, and the question presents itself whether his appeal can be heard in the absence of Minor and his wife, who were codefendants with him in the court below, and who have taken no appeal.

Undoubtedly the general rule is that all the parties defendant, where the decree is a joint one, must join in the appeal. Owings v. Kincannon. 7 Pet. 399; Mussina v. Cavazos, 6 Wall. 355.

In the present case, Hardee, the appellant, complains that the decree below was wrong, as respects him, in two particulars: First, in declaring that the deed, absolute in form, from Minor and wife to him, was merely a security; and, second, if the deed were a security only, in fixing the amount of his debt at too small a sum. And as it was the interest of Minor and wife to have their deed to Hardee held to be a security merely, and also to have the debt thereby secured found as small as possible, particularly as the decree gave them a beneficial interest in the proceeds of the sale of the land ordered by the decree, it was contended that it would be for the interest of Minor and wife to have the decree stand, and that hence Hardee might prosecute his appeal alone.

At the same time it was said that, if this were not so, the Minors had disclaimed any interest. But the disclaimer was nothing more than that the Minors agreed with the position taken by Hardee, which, however, the circuit court held to be untenable. And it further appears that one matter in controversy in the court below was the validity of the deed of trust declared by Minor in favor of his wife, and which deed was declared by the decree in the court below to have been given without consideration, and in fraud of Wilson and other creditors of Minor, and as respects this feature of the decree it was the right of Ninor and wife to have taken an appeal. In the case of Masterson v. Herndon, 10 Wall. 416, it was held that 'it is the established doctrine of this court that in cases at law, where the judgment is joint, all the parties against whom it is rendered must join in the writ of error; and, in chancery cases, all the parties against whom a joint decree is rendered must join in the...

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