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EX PARTE WILDER'S STEAMSHIP COMPANY.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: January 6, 1902.

EX PARTE WILDER'S STEAMSHIP COMPANY.

PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS.

Author: Gray

[ 183 U.S. Page 550]

 MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the case as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

We are of opinion that the appeal from the Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was rightly disallowed.

The libel in admiralty was originally brought, and a decree made, in a court of the Republic of Hawaii having jurisdiction of the cause, and an appeal from that decree was duly taken to the Supreme Conrt of Hawaii, as provided by the then existing law of the Republic. While the appeal was lawfully pending in the courts of Hawaii, Congress, by the act of April 30, 1900, c. 339, provided a government for the Territory of Hawaii, establishing therein a Supreme Court and other courts, and enacting, in section 10, that "all actions at law, suits in equity, and other proceedings, then pending in the courts of the Republic of Hawaii, shall be carried on the final judgment and execution in the corresponding courts of the Territory of Hawaii." This appeal in admiralty was one of the "other proceedings" then pending in the courts of the Republic of Hawaii, which were "to be carried on to final judgment and execution in the corresponding courts of the Territory of Hawaii." On November 9, 1900, the cause having come on regularly to be heard before the Supreme Court of the Territory, in accordance with the act of Congress, the decree below was affirmed; and on the same day an appeal from the decree of affirmance was claimed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The act of Congress of 1900 contains no provision authorizing

[ 183 U.S. Page 551]

     such an appeal. The petitioner refers to section 86 of that act, which established in the Territory a District Court of the United States with the powers of a Circuit Court of the United States. But that court is given no appellate jurisdiction. The provision allowing writs of error and appeals from that court to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Judicial Circuit does not touch appeals from the Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii. And the remaining clause as to appeals, writs of error, removals of causes and other matters and proceedings between the courts of the United States and the courts of the Territory of Hawaii provides that they shall be governed, not by the laws applicable to other Territories, but by the laws of the United States as to such matters and proceedings "as between the courts of the United States and the courts of the several States." Congress may have considered that, owing to the great distance of the Territory of Hawaii from the continent, the appellate jurisdiction over that Territory should be more restricted than over other Territories, and should extend only, as in the case of the several States, to judgments against a right claimed under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States. But whatever may have been the reasons which influenced Congress, its language is too plain to be misunderstood. Cases in admiralty, brought after the act of 1900 took effect, must of course be brought in the District Court of the United States, and subject to the right of appeal therein provided to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. But as to cases in admiralty pending in the courts of Hawaii when the act took effect, there is no special provision, and they therefore remain, like other civil cases, to be finally determined in the courts of the Territory of Hawaii, under the general provision of section 10. In cases in admiralty, as in all other cases pending in the courts of Hawaii at that time, it was within the discretionary power of Congress to provide that they should remain within the jurisdiction and determination of the courts of the Territory; and it has clearly so provided as to pending suits of all classes. The fact that in a State cases in admiralty cannot be brought in its courts, but only in the courts of the United States, affords no reason for implying that Congress, without any language expressing

[ 183 U.S. Page 552]

     such an intention, meant to vest in any court of the United States either original or appellate jurisdiction in cases in admiralty pending in the courts of Hawaii when this act of Congress took effect.

Reliance is placed by the petitioner on section 15 of the act of March 3, 1891, c. 517, (long before the annexation of Hawaii,) establishing Circuit Courts of Appeals, which provides that "the Circuit Court of Appeal, in cases in which the judgments of the Circuit Courts of Appeal are made final by this act," (which include cases in admiralty,) "shall have the same appellate jurisdiction, by writ of error or appeal, to review the judgments, orders and decrees of the supreme courts of the several Territories as by this act they may have to review the judgments, orders and decrees of the District Court and Circuit Courts; and for that purpose the several Territories shall, by orders of the Supreme Court, to be made from time to time, be assigned to particular circuits." 26 Stat. 830. But on November 9, 1900, when this appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was claimed from the Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii, as well as on April 12, 1901, when this petition for a writ of mandamus was filed, this court had made no order assigning the Territory of Hawaii to any judicial circuit. The order made by this court on April 15, 1901, assigning the Territory of Hawaii to the Ninth Judicial Circuit, was not, as this petitioner requested, made as of a former day, but took effect only from its date. And no order of this court, assigning the Territory of Hawaii to a judicial circuit under the act of 1891, can give a right of appeal inconsistent with the provision of section 86 of the later act of 1900 restricting such appeals to cases in which by the laws of the United States they are allowable to the courts of the United States from the courts of the several States.

Petition dismissed.

19020106

© 1998 VersusLaw Inc.



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