Macon v. Murray

Decision Date02 November 1949
Docket Number396
Citation55 S.E.2d 807,231 N.C. 61
PartiesMACON v. MURRAY et al.
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

The plaintiff sued the defendants to recover compensation for work performed by him for them in cutting timber standing on their farm and sawing it into marketable lumber. The defendants answered, denying liability. By consent of the parties, the action was referred to W. E. Gavin, Esquire, who heard the witnesses on both sides and made a report stating separately the facts found by him and his conclusions of law thereon. The report sustained the plaintiff's version of the controversy, and concluded that he was entitled to judgment against defendants for $4,311.22 with interest thereon from June 24, 1948, and the costs of the action. The defendants took many exceptions to the findings of fact and the conclusions of law of the referee. When the cause was heard in the Superior Court, the judge summarily entered judgment overruling all of the exceptions of the defendants and confirming the report in its entirety. He stated at the time that he took this course because the record disclosed that there was 'some evidence to support the findings of fact' of the referee. The defendants excepted to the judgment and appealed assigning errors.

J G. Prevette, Asheboro, for the plaintiff, appellee.

John L. Murray, High Point, for the defendants, appellants.

ERVIN Justice.

A perusal of the record discloses that each finding of fact embodied in the report has some support in the testimony taken before the referee and reported by him to the court. Moreover, the conclusions of law of the referee are sound if the facts found by him reveal the truth in respect to the controversy between the parties. Notwithstanding these observations, the judgment must be vacated and the cause remanded to the superior court for further proceedings for the reason that the court below abdicated its judicial function when it overruled the exceptions of the defendants to the report of the referee and confirmed such report as a whole simply because there was some evidence at the hearing to sustain the referee's findings of fact.

Where exceptions are taken to the report of a referee, the law expects the judge, who reviews them, to decide their validity by the exercise of his own mental faculties. It does not contemplate that he will perfunctorily place the stamp of his approval upon the labor of the referee merely because a...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT