Slocum v. Mayberry

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation4 L.Ed. 169,15 U.S. 1,2 Wheat. 1
Decision Date12 February 1817
PartiesSLOCUM v. MAYBERRY et al

15 U.S. 1
4 L.Ed. 169
2 Wheat. 1
SLOCUM
v.
MAYBERRY et al.
February 12, 1817

Page 2

ERROR on a judgment rendered by the supreme court for the state of Rhode-Island.

John Slocum, the plaintiff in error, was surveyor of the customs for the port of Newport, in Rhode-Island, and under the directions of the collector had seized the Venus, lying in that port with a cargo ostensibly bound to some other port in the United States. The defendants in error, who were owners of the cargo, brought their writ of replevin in the state court of Rhode-Island for the restoration of the property. The defendant pleaded that the Venus was laden in the night, not under the inspection of the proper revenue officers; and that the collector of the port, suspecting an intention to violate the embargo laws, had directed him to seize and detain her till the opinion of the president

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should be known on the case; and concluded to the jurisdiction of the court. The same matter was also pleaded in bar. To both these pleas the plaintiff in the state court demurred, and the defendants joined in demurrer. Judgment having been rendered in favour of the plaintiff in the state court, the cause was removed into this court by writ of error.

The Attorney-General for the plaintiff in error. 1. The seizure was well made under the 11th section of the embargo act of the 25th of April, 1808. The nature and extent of the power vested in the revenue officers was settled in the case of Crowell v. M'Fadon.a Even admitting that, according to the doctrine held in the case of the Paulina,b the landing without a permit, contrary to the second section, does not work a forfeiture, (the denial of a clearance being the only penalty,) still the efficacy of the eleventh section justifies and protects the officer. 2. The case being brought under the cognizance of the United States, and within the jurisdiction of their courts, by the just exercise of an authority by one of their officers, the state court had no right to interfere, and arrest the seizure by its process. In the case of the Favourite,c three of the judges held, that 'the conduct of the salvors in taking the goods out of the possession of the revenue officers, though by legal process, was improper.' This intimation

a 8 Cranch, 96.

b 7 Cranch, 52.

c 4 Cranch, 347. See also 1 Binney, 138. Soderstrom's case. 2 Hall's Law Journal, 195.

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is the stronger, as the wrecked goods were adjudged not liable to duties; and it is fortified by the opinion of a learned judge in the supreme court of New-York, upon an analogous question.d

d or the allowance of a writ of habeas corpus, directed to John Christie, a lieutenant-colonel in the army of the United States, to bring up the body of Jeremiah Ferguson, founded upon an affidavit of his father, stating that he was an enlisted soldier in the 13th regiment of infantry in the army of the United States, then under the command of Christie, and that the said Jeremiah Ferguson was an infant under the age of 21 years, &c., and that he enlisted without his father's consent, and was desirous of being released and discharged. The chief justice, in delivering his opinion, stated, 'that the present case being one of an enlistment under colour of the authority of the United States, and by an officer of that government, the federal courts have complete and perfect jurisdiction in the case; and there is no need of the jurisdiction or interference of the state courts; nor does it appear to me to be fit that the state courts should be inquiring into the abuse of the exercise of the authority of the general government. Numberless cases may be supposed of the abuse of power, by the civil and military officers of the government of the United States; but the courts of the United States have competent authority to correct all such abuses, and they are bound to exercise that authority. The responsibility is with them, not with us; and we have no reason to doubt of their readiness, as well as ability, to correct and punish every abuse of power under that government. The judicial power of the United States is commensurate with every case arising under the laws of the union; and the act of congress (1 Laws of the U. S. 53. 55.) gives to the federal courts, exclusively of the courts of the several states, cognizance of all crimes and offences, cognisable under the authority of the United States.' The other judges concurred in refusing to allow the habeas corpus, deeming that a question of sound legal discretion; but reserved themselves as to the jurisdiction of the state courts.

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Mr. Hunter, contra. 1. It is conceded that the opinion or suspicion of the collector authorized him to detain any vessel, ostensibly bound with a cargo to some port of the United States, until the pleasure of the president should be known. This is not a replevin for the vessel. As to that, the owners submitted to the suspicion of the collector, and the pleasure of the president; but as to the cargo, neither of these officers had, by law, the power of detaining it. A momentary and unavoidable detention of the cargo, incidental to the seizure of the vessel, might indeed be deemed a necessary consequence of an undeniable power; but could never give the seizing officer a right to continue the detention of the cargo after the vessel was securely detained. Cargo, in the revenue laws; in the law of prize; and in questions of salvage, insurance, and freight; is contra-distinguished from vessel. The system of the embargo laws was intended to prevent exportation; and, in order to accomplish this only, they authorized the detention of the vehicle, without which no exportation could take place. Even the vessel was not forfeited, but detained; and the cargo was neither forfeited nor detained, but left in the possession of the owners to be freely consumed at home. The laws of the United States having then exerted their energy, and performed their office, the subsequent proceedings were...

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52 practice notes
  • Hunsucker v. Phinney, No. 71-2580.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 29, 1974
    ...fail to provide decisional support for finding jurisdiction under the section in this case. In Slocum v. Mayberry, 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 1, 4 L.Ed. 169 (1817), Chief Justice Marshall interpreted the original Judiciary Act provision from which § 1356 is drawn. He held that where an officer of t......
  • United States v. Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Dollars 850 In United States Currency, No. 81-1062
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 23, 1983
    ...order compelling the filing of the forfeiture action or return of the seized property. See Slocum v. Mayberry, 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 1, 10, 4 L.Ed. 169 (1817) (MARSHALL, C.J.). Less formally, the claimant could simply request that the Customs Service refer the matter to the United States Attor......
  • Wheeldin v. Wheeler, No. 493
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1963
    ...When it comes to suits for damages for abuse of power, federal officials are usually governed by local law. See, e.g., Slocum v. Mayberry, 2 Wheat. 1, 10, 12, 4 L.Ed. 169. Federal law, however, supplies the defense, if the conduct complained of was done pursuant to a federally imposed duty ......
  • Hoffman v. Preston, 20-15396
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • February 28, 2022
    ...1673 ; see Wheeldin v. Wheeler , 373 U.S. 647, 652, 83 S.Ct. 1441, 10 L.Ed.2d 605 (1963) ; Slocum v. Mayberry , 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 1, 10, 4 L.Ed. 169 (1817). Unlike the historical courts of England which created the forms of action, our courts do not create new laws. See, e.g. , F. Maitland......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
52 cases
  • Hunsucker v. Phinney, No. 71-2580.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 29, 1974
    ...fail to provide decisional support for finding jurisdiction under the section in this case. In Slocum v. Mayberry, 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 1, 4 L.Ed. 169 (1817), Chief Justice Marshall interpreted the original Judiciary Act provision from which § 1356 is drawn. He held that where an officer of t......
  • United States v. Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Dollars 850 In United States Currency, No. 81-1062
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 23, 1983
    ...order compelling the filing of the forfeiture action or return of the seized property. See Slocum v. Mayberry, 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 1, 10, 4 L.Ed. 169 (1817) (MARSHALL, C.J.). Less formally, the claimant could simply request that the Customs Service refer the matter to the United States Attor......
  • Wheeldin v. Wheeler, No. 493
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1963
    ...When it comes to suits for damages for abuse of power, federal officials are usually governed by local law. See, e.g., Slocum v. Mayberry, 2 Wheat. 1, 10, 12, 4 L.Ed. 169. Federal law, however, supplies the defense, if the conduct complained of was done pursuant to a federally imposed duty ......
  • Hoffman v. Preston, 20-15396
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • February 28, 2022
    ...1673 ; see Wheeldin v. Wheeler , 373 U.S. 647, 652, 83 S.Ct. 1441, 10 L.Ed.2d 605 (1963) ; Slocum v. Mayberry , 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 1, 10, 4 L.Ed. 169 (1817). Unlike the historical courts of England which created the forms of action, our courts do not create new laws. See, e.g. , F. Maitland......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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