St. Joseph Mfg. Co. v. Harrington

Decision Date21 April 1880
Citation5 N.W. 568,53 Iowa 380
CourtIowa Supreme Court


Appeal from Buena Vista circuit court.

A writ of error was issued from the circuit court to a justice of the peace, upon the application of the plaintiff, against whom judgment had been rendered in this case, and upon return thereof the judgment of the justice was affirmed. Plaintiff appeals. The facts of the case are stated in the opinion.Charles D. Goldsmith, for appellant.

William Wart, Robinson & Milchrist, for appellee.


1. An action was brought before a justice of the peace upon a promissory note. Upon the trial of the cause to a jury, the justice gave them certain instructions upon the law of the case touching the burden of proof, the preponderance and equipoise of evidence, the legal effect of a contract of warranty upon the sale of goods, and the rights of the parties thereunder. These instructions, and the ruling of the justice in awarding the affirmative of the issues to defendant, are complained of as erroneous in the application for the writ of error, and were made the grounds of the decision of the circuit court. The amount in controversy is less than $100. The judge of the circuit court, as required by statute, certifies the questions which he desires this court to determine. They involve the correctness of the instructions given by the justice of the peace. The circuit court held them correct.

2. No objection was made in the court below, or is made here, based upon the want of power of a justice of the peace under the law to instruct a jury. The parties seem to concede by their silence that a justice of the peace may lawfully instruct a jury called before him as to the law of the case. Does the want of objection by the parties in this case preclude us from deciding this question? It will be observed that the question involves a matter of power of the justice. If he possesses no such power his acts in the premises are void. If that be the case we cannot in any form recognize his illegal and void act. Surely we cannot be expected to review the decisions of a court in a matter of which it had no authority, though the parties may enter no objections to our taking cognizance of the case. We would not be expected to entertain a case involving the power of a justice of the peace to send a case to a referee. It is our duty to disregard all acts of other courts done without authority. In this case, if we find the decision of the justice in excess of his power, we will not recognize it. Our action in this respect cannot be controlled by the silent assent of the parties and the request of the circuit court.

3. Has a justice of the peace power to instruct a jury called before him for the trial of a cause? The power is not conferred by statute. He possesses only such powers as are enumerated in the Code. See Code, § 3516. The instruction of the jury involves a question of power. It is done in the exercise of judicial functions. The power is conferred upon the district and circuit courts by statute. Code, §§ 2784-9. It is not conferred upon...

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3 cases
  • Parker v. Dekle
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • June 23, 1903
    ... ... Error ... to Circuit Court, Manatee County; Joseph B. Wall, Judge ... Action ... by Lee Dekle against T. B. Parker. Judgment for ... 572; Boarman v ... Patterson, 1 Gill, 372; St. Joseph Manufacturing ... Company v. Harrington, 53 Iowa, 380, 5 N.W. 568; ... McDaniel v. Moody, 3 Stew. 314; Miller v. Sunde, ... 1 N.D. 1, 44 ... ...
  • Chi., B. & Q. R. Co. v. Bd. of Sup'rs of Fremont Cnty.
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • September 28, 1928
    ...court, if the person against whom the unauthorized judgment is rendered is not a party. 2 Cyc. 626. And see St. Joseph Manufacturing Co. v. Harrington, 53 Iowa, 380 [5 N. W. 568];Groves v. Richmond, 53 Iowa, 570 [5 N. W. 763]. And in the second place the notices of appeal to this court reci......
  • St. Joseph Manufacturing Co. v. Harrington
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • April 21, 1880

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