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MAXWELL V. STEWART, 89 U. S. 77 (1874)

U.S. Supreme Court

Maxwell v. Stewart, 89 U.S. 22 Wall. 77 77 (1874)

Maxwell v. Stewart

89 U.S. (22 Wall.) 77


1. To make a record of a judgment valid upon its face, it is only necessary for it to appear that the court had jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action and of the parties and that a judgment had in fact been rendered.

2. A trial by the court without the waiver of a jury is at most only error. A judgment after such a trial is not necessarily void. Mere errors cannot be set up as a defense to an action brought upon it.

3. When the record of a case a judgment in which is sued upon shows that an attachment was issued in it and laid on property appraised at a less sum than the judgment was given for, a demurrer which makes, in virtue of the attachment, a defense of payment and satisfaction is not good.

4. A seizure of personal property even to the full value of the sum claimed, under an order of attachment issued during the pendency of an action, is not necessarily a satisfaction of the judgment when afterwards obtained. The defendant must show affirmatively that it was applied to and satisfied the judgment.

5. A court will acquire jurisdiction of the person in a suit originally commenced by an attachment in rem if the party against whom the claim is set up voluntarily appears and submits himself to the jurisdiction, demurs, pleads, and goes to trial on issues made.

6. Fraud cannot be pleaded to an action in one state upon a judgment in another.

7. Nil debet is not a good plea to an action upon a judgment in another state.

Stewart sued Maxwell in one of the courts of the State of Kansas, claiming $7000, and, publication having been properly

Page 89 U. S. 78

made, laid an attachment on certain personal property of the defendant of which the sheriff took possession, and which was appraised at $6,825. What was finally done with the property did not exactly and by direct evidence appear. No redelivery bond, it seemed, was now existent. After the attachment had been made, Maxwell voluntarily appeared and submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the Kansas court in the case wherein the attachment issued. He filed, first, a demurrer, afterwards an answer, and finally went to trial on issues which the pleadings raised. Judgment was given against him for $7,050 by the court, no jury apparently having been had in the case. He moved for a new trial, but did not get one. After the entry of judgment, he got a rule on the sureties "in the redelivery bond" for the redelivery of the property attached, but, as already observed, apparently no redelivery bond itself was now existent as part of the record of the suit.

In this state of facts, Stewart now sued Maxwell in a court of New Mexico on the judgment thus obtained in Kansas, setting forth in his declaration the record of the court there which disclosed the facts above mentioned, but not a great many more.

Judgment having been given for the plaintiff in the court of New Mexico, in which the suit was brought, and this being affirmed in the supreme court of the territory, the defendant brought the case here, assigning these errors:

1. That the record sued upon was not full and complete, because it did not contain copies of certain papers -- a summons which it appeared had issued, or affidavits of publication which had been made &c. -- which papers had been filed in the progress of the cause.

2. That it also showed that the judgment was rendered upon a trial of the cause by the court without the waiver of a jury.

3. That the judgment was satisfied in law because, as shown by the record, certain personal property of the defendant, worth $6,825, was seized and taken into the possession of the sheriff under an order of attachment issued at the

Page 89 U. S. 79

time of the commencement of the action, and because this property had not been legally accounted for.

[This objection was first made by a demurrer to the petition which set forth the record in full, and afterwards by plea.]

4. That the court in Kansas did not have such jurisdiction of the defendant as was necessary in order to bind him by its judgment.

5. That the judgment sued upon was obtained by a false and fraudulent assertion of a contract, and by means of false and interested testimony, and

6. That a demurrer had been sustained to the plea of nil debet, filed in the court below (the court of New Mexico) in the present suit.

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