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OF THE

Supreme Court of the United States,

AT

OCTOBER TERM, 1873.

V.

UNITED STATES, Piff. in Err.,

Smith v. U. 8., 5 Pet., 292; 0. 8. v. Eckford's

Exrs., 1 How., 250. MRS. BESSIE ELGEE GAUSSEN, Wife of Ed- What the statute 'requires is, full transcripts mond J. Gaussen, Exrx. of the Last Will and of the accounts of disbursing officers, as made Testament of her Father, John Kingsbury in the regular course of business by the acElgee, Deceased.

counting officers of the Treasury, and where

such transcripts and not mere balances are of(See S. C., 19 Wall., 198–214.)

fered, they are to be received in evidence. Transcript from government books, when evi- Gratiot v. U. S., 15 Pet., 336; U. 8. v. Eck

dence-accounts, how stated-accounts of ford's Eærs. supra; Hoyt v. U. 8., 10 How., 109. revenue officerswhen admissible against In the present case, the adjustment by the sureties.

auditor of Barrett's account, from his appoint

ment to office under his bond, July 25, 1844, 1. Under the Act of March 3, 1797, the tran: until his retirement, Oct. 12, 1845, is given in script from the books of the department admissible in evidence against a revenue officer should not be detail, with subsequent adjustment made in a garbled or mutilated statement; but it is not nec. 1848 and 1854. These reports evidently give all essary that every account with an individual, and the details which the Treasury Department is all of every account, shall be transcribed as a condition of the admissibility of any one account. accustomed to give in similar accounts, and this

2. The statement presented should be complete is all that the law requires, namely: "A tranin itself, perfect for what it purports to represent: script from the books and proceedings of the and give both sides of the account as the same stands upon the books.

Treasury." There being but one certificate to 3. It should give the items on each side of the them all, is no objection to their admission, or account, but they may be condensed and stated in a briefer form than they stood upon the original to treating them as separate and distinct acentries.

counts. The office of the certificate is, to show 4. Accounts rendered by a revenue officer are ad- that the accounts are properly authenticated, missible as entries made against the interest of the and, if they are connected so as to leave no party making them.

5. They are admissible against the sureties, be doubt of their authenticity, this is all that the cause a surety is bound by the acts and declara law requires. tions of bis principal, being within the scope of the business, as part of the res geste.

2. The court likewise erred in excluding the

accounts rendered by Barrett. They seem to (No. 16.)

be complete, and in no respect partial or fragArgued Oct. 15, 1873. Decided Oct. 27, 1873. mentary, and being rendered by him to the GovN ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United they are admissions on his part of the facts

ernment in the performance of his official duty,

therein stated. The case is stated by the court. Mr. C. H. Hill, Asst. Atty. Gen., for plain-Whitnash v. George, 8 Barn. & C., 556; Middle

1 Phil. Ev., 4th Am. ed., 307, n., 525, 526; tiff in error:

1. Section 2 of the Act of March 3, 1797, 1 ton v. Melton, 10 Barn. & C., 317. Stat. at L., 512, 513, enacts, “That in every

Messrs. J. M. Carlisle and J. D. McPhercase of delinquency, where suit has been or son, for defendant in error: shall be instituted, a transcript from the books

The reports of the auditor and the accomand proceedings of the Treasury, certified by panying statements of difference were not adthe registry and authenticated under the seal missible in evidence separately from the quarof the department, shall be admitted as evi- terly returns. dence, and the court trying the case shall be The Act of March 3, 1797, makes a transcript thereupon authorized to grant gment and from the books and proceedings of the Treasaward execution accordingly.”

ury, evidence in suits like the present. There can be no doubt that this applies to But not everything which a treasury officer sureties as well as principals.

chooses to write upon the books of the Treas

41

ury, thereby becomes evidence. Those matters , absence from the United States. It results from of which the treasury officers have official | the provisions that the officer is entitled to the knowledge, and which upon such knowledge they decision by the accounting officers on every have recorded in the books of the Treasury, item, and this court so rules in the case of U. thereby become evidence. But when they ascer. 8. v. Jones, 8 Pet., 375, 382. tain facts by evidence, that evidence becomes See, U. 8. v. Gilmore, 7 Wall., 494, 19 L. ed., part of their proceedings, and their conclusions, 283; U. 8. v. Edwards, 1 McLean, 467. apart from the evidence upon which they are There are debits in the transcript, manifestly founded, are not evidence at all. This is clearly not within the scope of the liability sought to stated in U. 8. v. Jones, 8 Pet., 375, 381.

be enforced. The quarterly returns were not admissible in evidence, without the auditor's report.

Mr. Justice Hunt delivered the opinion of The defendant is entitled to the benefit of all the court: credits allowed by the accounting officers. But This is an action brought upon a bond of as credits claimed, if not admitted by the ac- Thomas Barrett, as Collector of Customs for counting officers, must be proven, then it fol- the Port of New Orleans. The testator, John lows that to admit the quarterly returns with Kingsbury Elgee, was one of the sureties upon out the auditor's reports, would be to deny the the bond. defendant the benefit of all credits given him

Upon the trial, the bond of Barrett, the colat the Treasury, and put him to proof of all the lector, was produced and the signature of the credits anew. This would have been a great defendant's testator, as one of the sureties therehardship and one which no court would impose, in, was duly proved. Further to maintain the especially if, as stated in the bill of exceptions, action, plaintiffs' counsel offered in evidence the reports thus omitted contained credits which copies of the reports of the First Auditor of do not appear in the quarterly returns, but do the Treasury of the United States, numbered appear first in the settlements made after the respectively 5,688, 5,700, 5,856, 5,870, 6,391, collector's death, and which, with other settle 6,423, 9,241 and 15,817, as admitted and certiments, the United States declined to offer with fied by the Comptroller and Commissioner of the quarterly returns.

Customs,

all of said papers being It may be said that the defendant could have fastened together as a whole, and embraced in referred to or even put in evidence the quar- one certificate. The defendant, “making no obterly returns and the auditor's reports as anjection to the form or substance of the certifinexed to the petition, and could thus have ob- cate, objected to this evidence, on the ground tained the advantage of which the course of the that the Act of Congress making evidence tranplaintiff in the trial is supposed to deprive him. scripts from the books of the Treasury DepartBut this is no sufficient answer to the objection. ment, applies only to public defaulters, and that The examples above given are mere illustrations the same are not evidence against sureties; and of the evil of an incomplete transcript and al- also on the further ground that said returns though in this particular case the remedy. may were fragmentary, incomplete, and partial; and be easy, that does not justify the plaintiff in also on the ground that said reports charged mutilating the transcript, or presenting an in: Barrett with grossosums and balances, without complete one, and throwing on the defendant giving details. The evidence was excluded, and the onus of completing it.

plaintiff's counsel excepted to the ruling. But if the plaintiffs had offered in evidence

The plaintiff also offered in evidence a statethe complete transcript of which they offered ment of the account of said Barrett with the parts, it would not have been admissible.

United States, made by said Barrett to the It is on its face fragmentary and imperfect, United States while Collector of Customs, and and it moreover contains items not within the certified as true and correct copies of said origscope of the liability of the surety on whose inal statements. This evidence was objected to bond the suit is brought. We assume that, under the Act of 1797, which alone makes such gal proof of the existence of a debt by said Bar

on the ground that said statement was not lea transcript evidence: 1. The transcript must contain all the proceedings. 2. It must contain rett, did not tend to prove the same and was

not competent evidence thereof; and that the a decision either of allowance or disallowance of all claims to credit, which have been sub: evidence was excluded, and plaintiff excepted

same was fragmentary and incomplete. This mitted to the accounting officers. 3. It must

to the ruling of the court. not contain debts manifestly and clearly not

By the Act of March 1797, 1 Stat. at L., within the scope of the account settled and ad- 512, 513, it is enacted : “Sec. 1. That when any justed.

revenue officer

shall neglect or refuse If the transcript be liable to any of these objections, the proper course is to exclude it. And to pay into the Treasury the sum or balance this course imposes no hardship on the United reported to be due to the United States upon States. As this suit cannot be barred by limi- the adjustment of his accounts, *it shall [*199 tation, and it is not liable for costs, it has only be the duty of the Comptroller to institute suit to submit to a nonsuit and correct the transcript

for the recovery of the same. Sec. 2. That in in the particular objected to. The transcript every case of delinquency, where a suit has been was incomplete.

or shall be instituted, a transcript from the U. 8. v. Patterson, Gilp., 44.

books and proceedings of the Treasury, certified The Act of 1797 declares that no credit, not by the register and authenticated under the seal allowed by the accounting officers, shall be al. of the department, shall be admitted as evidence, lowed on the trial, unless it has been presented and the court trying the cause shall be thereto the accounting officer "and disallowed,” or upon authorized to grant judgment and award has not been presented by reason of accident or execution accordingly.”

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