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CRIM V. HANDLEY, 94 U. S. 652 (1876)

U.S. Supreme Court

Crim v. Handley, 94 U.S. 652 (1876)

Crim v. Handley

94 U.S. 652


1. The Court affirms the doctrine announced in Hendrickson v. Hinckley, 17 How. 443, that a court of equity will not enjoin a judgment at law unless the proof clearly shows that the defendant had a just defense of which he could not avail himself at law or to which, if available, he was prevented from resorting by fraud or unavoidable accident, unmixed with any fault or negligence in himself or his agents.

2. Absence of one of the counsel employed to conduct his defense in a suit at law does not furnish ground for equitable relief where it appears that the defendant, had he been present at the trial, might have employed other counsel equally competent; nor does the fact that a witness upon whom he relied was so sick during his examination as to impair his recollection of facts within his knowledge. Having failed to ask a postponement or a continuance, he cannot go into equity and claim to have the judgment enjoined.

3. Nor will such relief be granted because the record of a prior suit upon which the defendant relied was lost or could not be found by the clerk of the court. The loss of the record, and an unsuccessful search for it, presented

a good cause for a continuance. Proof of its contents was also available under such circumstances as secondary evidence.

Handley, on the 14th of April, 1873, brought suit in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Georgia against Crim and Peeples, surviving partners of King, Crim, & Co., on four promissory notes, executed by the firm to Buffington & Co.

The defense was payment. Peeples also pleaded his discharge in bankruptcy.

When the case was called, no motion was made for a continuance. The evidence offered by the defendants was admitted at the trial without objection, no charge to the jury was asked, and there is consequently no bill of exceptions.

The defendants offered in evidence sundry receipts showing payments.

Harper, the attorney in whose hands Buffington & Co. had placed these notes, and Crim and Peeples, the defendants, were witnesses, and testified as to the alleged payments.

Upon this evidence the case was submitted, and it resulted in a verdict and a judgment for $3,154.21 against Crim. Peeples was discharged on the plea of bankruptcy.

Crim then moved for a new trial on grounds which do not

Page 94 U. S. 653

appear. The motion was denied. He then filed his bill for an injunction and a new trial, all the allegations of which, in support of the relief prayed for, were fully answered and denied, and the case was heard in August, 1873, when the injunction was denied. No decision was made on the demurrer, which was also filed, but the bill was retained for the purpose of being heard at the next term.

Testimony was taken by Crim to sustain his allegation that the notes had been paid, and the principal witnesses were again he, Peeples, and Harper.

The chief grounds relied on by Crim for the intervention of equity were first, that a certain record in a proceeding on the equity side of one of the state courts, alleged to have an important bearing on the question of payment, could not be found by the clerk of that court up to the time of trial; second, that Peeples, when testifying in the common law case, was not in a condition of mind to tell all he knew and to speak truly. In support of this latter ground, Peeples swears that, two or three days before the trial, he had been seriously ill; had not slept scarcely any for three nights, had taken opium freely, and at the time he testified was in such bad condition that he could not remember the facts in the case. He swears that in another trial he will testify to sundry payments amounting to $3,251.

Upon a final hearing, the bill was dismissed, and Crim appealed to this Court.

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