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JOHNSTON V. JONES, 66 U. S. 209 (1861)

U.S. Supreme Court

Johnston v. Jones, 66 U.S. 1 Black 209 209 (1861)

Johnston v. Jones

66 U.S. (1 Black) 209


1. A bill of exceptions should contain only so much of the evidence as is necessary to present the legal question raised. When more than this is inserted in the bill, it is an irregularity to be condemned as a departure from established practice, inconvenient and embarrassing to the court.

2. Where a series of propositions are embodied in the instructions of the court which are excepted to in a mass, the exception must be overruled if any one proposition be sound.

3. The right which the owner of a water lot has to the accretions in front of it depends on its condition at the date of the deed which conveyed him the legal title, and cannot be carried back by relation to the date of a title bond previously assigned to him, and under which he procured the deed.

4. Maps, surveys, and plats are not necessarily and of themselves independent evidence, and are therefore to be received only so far as they are shown to be correct by other testimony in the cause.

5. Where a lot had no waterfront, and the plaintiff who was the owner of it had therefore no right to any part of the accretions for which he was suing, and it is apparent from the record that the fact was so found by the jury, this Court will not reverse for an error committed by the court below with respect to the rule by which the alluvium should be divided among those who are owners.

6. Jones v. Johnston, 18 How. 150, and Deerfield v. Arms, 17 Pick. 45, affirmed as laying down the rule to which this Court adheres for measuring the rights of riparian proprietors in the accretions formed along the water line.

7. Where a lot was conveyed by A to B as having a waterfront, and reconveyed by B to A as having no such front, and afterwards conveyed by A to the plaintiff, a deed from B to the plaintiff made after suit brought cannot be given in evidence to show the right of the plaintiff to a waterfront and consequently a title in the alluvium.

8. If there was a mistake in the original deed, the remedy should have been sought in chancery, by a proceeding against all parties interested; the rights of third persons cannot be affected by a private agreement and a deed made in pursuance of it.

Page 66 U. S. 210

9. A witness cannot be permitted to make a calculation founded upon a map which is not itself original and reliable evidence, and permission to ask a question calling for such a calculation is properly refused by the court.

10. The extent to which a cross-examination maybe carried beyond what is necessary to exhibit the merits of the case must be guided and limited by the discretion of the judge who presides at the trial, and is not the subject of review in a court of error.

11. This Court will not interfere with the practice of the circuit courts concerning the order and time of introducing evidence, nor reverse a judgment for the rejection of evidence as rebutting, which ought to have been given in chief.

William S. Johnston brought ejectment in the circuit court against John A. Jones and another for a part of the land formed by accretion on the shore of Lake Michigan north of the north pier of the harbor of Chicago. The cause was tried in the circuit court, and a verdict and judgment were given for the plaintiff, when the defendant brought it up to this Court by writ of error, where it was reversed and a venire facias de novo awarded. The facts as they appeared upon the record at that time are fully stated in the opinion of MR. JUSTICE NELSON, 59 U. S. 18 How. 150. On the second trial, the same evidence was given, with no new additions except the two documents pertaining to the plaintiff's title which are mentioned in the opinion of MR. JUSTICE SWAYNE. That opinion also contains a statement of the facts upon which the several rulings of the circuit court upon the admissibility of evidence were based, and quotes at sufficient length the instructions which were given to the jury. The verdict and judgment were in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff took this writ of error.

Page 66 U. S. 218

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