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MATTHEWS V. DENSMORE, 109 U. S. 216 (1883)

U.S. Supreme Court

Matthews v. Densmore, 109 U.S. 216 (1883)

Matthews v. Densmore

Argued October 18, 1883

Decided November 12, 1883

109 U.S. 216


1. A writ issuing from a court of competent jurisdiction, with power to compel its enforcement, and in a case where the cause of action and the parties to it are before the court and within its jurisdiction, is not void by reason of mistakes in the preliminary acts which precede its issue.

2. If not avoided by proper proceedings, it is in all other courts a sufficient protection to the officer executing it.

3. The marshal for the Eastern District of Michigan seized the goods of the defendants in error under a writ of attachment issued from the circuit court of that district on a defective affidavit. Held that in proceedings in the state courts of Michigan against the marshal, the process is sufficient to protect him if the property seized under it was liable to be attached in that suit.

This is a writ of error to the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan. The plaintiff in error was Marshal of the United States for the Eastern District of that state, and under a writ of attachment from the circuit court levied on a stock of goods which was the subject of controversy. The defendants in error, who were not the parties named in the writ of attachment, sued Matthews, the marshal, in trespass on the ground that they were the owners of the goods and that the goods were not liable to the attachment under which the marshal acted.

To this action the defendant pleaded the general issue, with notice that he should rely on the writ of attachment, and should prove that the goods were subject to be seized under it.

When the defendant, who was admitted to be the marshal, as he had alleged, offered in evidence the writ of attachment, the court refused to receive it on the ground that it did not appear by the affidavit on which it was issued that the debt claimed by the plaintiff in the writ was due. As the plaintiffs in the present action were in possession of the goods when they were seized under the writ, this ruling of the court was decisive

Page 109 U. S. 217

of the case. The defendant excepted and brought the case here on a writ of error, the assigned error being "the refusal to admit in evidence the writ of attachment and proceedings thereunder."

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