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may hold, he has the same right as to all of them, and may present them all at once, whatever his motive or intent. They ask whether a mortgagee would be prevented from foreclosing because he acted from disinterested malevolence, and not from a desire to get his money. But the word "right" is one of the most deceptive of pitfalls; it is so easy to slip from a qualified meaning in the premise to an unqualified one in the conclusion. Most rights are qualified. A man has at least as absolute a right to give his own money as he has to demand money from a party that has made no promise to him; yet if he gives it to induce another to steal or murder, the purpose of the act makes it a crime.

A bank that receives deposits to be drawn upon by check of course authorizes its depositors to draw checks against their accounts, and holders of such checks to present them for payment. When we think of the ordinary case, the right of the holder is so unimpeded that it seems to us absolute. But, looked at from either side, it cannot be so. The interests of business also are recognized as rights, protected against injury to a greater or less extent, and in case of conflict between the claims of business, on the one side, and of third persons, on the other, lines have to be drawn that limit both. A man has a right to give advice, but advice given for the sole purpose of injuring another's business, and effective on a large scale, might create a cause of action. Banks, as we know them, could not exist if they could not rely upon averages, and lend a large part of the money that they receive from their depositors on the assumption that not more than a certain fraction of it will be demanded on any one day. If without a word of falsehood, but acting from what we have called disinterested malevolence, a man by persuasion should organize and carry into effect a run upon a bank, and ruin it, we cannot doubt that an action would lie. A similar result, even if less complete in its effect, is to be [359] expected from the course that the defendants are alleged to intend; and to determine whether they are authorized to follow that course it is not enough to refer to the general right of a holder of checks to present them, but it is necessary to consider whether the collection of checks, and presenting them in a body, for the purpose of breaking down the petitioner's business as now conducted, is justified by the ulterior purpose in view.

If this were a case of competition in private business, it would be hard to admit the justification of self-interest, considering the now current opinion as to public policy, expressed in statutes and decisions. But this is not private business. The policy of the Federal reserve banks is governed by the policy of the United States with regard to them and to these relatively feeble competitors. We do not need aid from the debates upon the statute under which the reserve banks exist to assume that the United States did not intend by that statute to sanction this sort of warfare upon legitimate creations of the states. Decree reversed.

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1. After the allowance of a writ of error from the Federal Supreme Court to the court of appeals of the District of Columbia, the cause passed beyond the jurisdiction of the latter court.

[For other cases, see Appeal and Error, IV. g. 3, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.] Appeal

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moot case.

review 2. The Federal Supreme Court will not pass upon the merits of a writ of error sued out to review a judgment in an action to recover the possession of real estate, where, pending review, the defendant in error (plaintiff below) has parted with the title to the premises, so that no controversy remains, except as to costs. [For other cases, see Appeal and Error, VII. 1, 2, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.] Appeal 3. The Federal Supreme Court, though unable to consider the merits of a case, owing to the moot character of the issues involved, is at liberty to make such order as is consonant to justice, in view of the [For other cases, see Appeal and Error, IX. e, conditions and circumstances of the case.

[ocr errors]

judgment - moot case.

in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.] Appeal

costs moot case.

4. Costs incurred upon a writ of error sued out of the Federal Supreme Court to review a judgment in an action to recover by the defendant in error (plaintiff below), possession of real property should be paid where he, without fault of the plaintiff in error, practically ended the controversy after the proceedings below, by parting with the title to the premises, thus causing

[For other cases, see Appeal and Error, IX. 1,

the case to become moot.

in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.1

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IN

Decided

IN ERROR to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia to review a judgment which affirmed a judgment of the Supreme Court of the District, in favor of plaintiff in a suit to recover possession of real property. Reversed and remanded, with directions to remand the case to the Supreme Court of the District for dismissal of the complaint. See same case below, 49 App. D. C. 391, 266 Fed. 1011.

The facts are stated in the opinion. Mr. Chapin Brown argued the cause, and, with Mr. C. B. Bauman, filed a brief for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Wharton E. Lester argued the cause and filed a brief for defendant in

error.

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

called Saulsbury Resolution of May 31, and of rule 19 of the supreme court of 1918 (40 Stat. at L. 593, chap. 90), the District of Columbia. Other errors, not necessary to notice, are also assigned.

[361] The judgment of the court of appeals of the District, affirming that of the supreme court, was rendered on January 5, 1920, and on January 15, 1920, a writ of error was allowed, bringing the case to this court. On February 5, 1920, Stokes, appellee in the court of appeals, and defendant in error here, filed a motion to dismiss the writ of error upon the ground that he had sold and conveyed the real estate, the possession of which was the subject-matter in dispute, and had no further interest in the cause except to recover costs and rental due because of the wrongful detention of the property, and upon the further ground that no appeal bond had been filed by the appellant. The court of appeals

denied the motion. After the allowance of the writ of error, the cause had passed beyond the jurisdiction of that court.

In this court the defendant in error, Stokes, moves to dismiss the writ of error, setting forth as grounds for the mo

tion:

3. The only question now involved in this appeal is that of costs.

1. The cause of action between the parties hereto has ceased to exist, for that, after the judgment of the court of Sylvanus Stokes brought suit in the appeals of the District of Columbia, apmunicipal court of the District of Co- pellee sold and conveyed the real estate, lumbia to recover from Anna Heitmuller the subject-matter of this suit, and possession of premises number 1505, 22d therefore is not now entitled to the restreet, northwest, in the city of Wash-lief herein sought; namely, the possesington, District of Columbia. Stokes sion of said premises. claimed to be the purchaser of the 2. There is now no actual controversy premises, and the action was brought involving real and substantial rights against Anna Heitmuller as tenant between the parties to the record, and thereof. Trial was had in the municipal no subject-matter upon which the judgcourt, and judgment rendered in favor ment of this court can operate. of the defendant. Stokes appealed to the supreme court of the District of Columbia, and filed an affidavit after the docketing of the appeal, as required by rule 19 of that court. Defendant filed an affidavit setting forth grounds of defense. The supreme court entered judgment for the plaintiff, Stokes, upon the ground that the defense, as set forth by the defendant, was insufficient to defeat the plaintiff's recovery. The case was taken to the court of appeals of the District of Columbia, where the judgment of the supreme court was affirmed. 49 App. D. C. 391, 266 Fed. 1011. A writ of error brings the case to this

court.

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As the action was brought to recover the possession of real estate, and as the defendant in error has, pending review in this court, sold it, we agree with the contention that the case has become moot. The plaintiff in error, so far as the record discloses, is in possession, and the defendant [362] in error having sold and conveyed the property, a judgment, if in his favor, will not give him possession of the premises. It has been often held that this court will not decide moot cases. The rule was stated in Mills v. Green, 159 U. S. 651, 653, 40 L. ed. 293, 294, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 132.

"The duty of this court, as of every other judicial tribunal, is to decide actu

may hold, he has the same right as to all of them, and may present them all at once, whatever his motive or intent. They ask whether a mortgagee would be prevented from foreclosing because he acted from disinterested malevolence, and not from a desire to get his money. But the word "right" is one of the most deceptive of pitfalls; it is so easy to slip from a qualified meaning in the premise to an unqualified one in the conclusion. Most rights are qualified. A man has at least as absolute a right to give his own money as he has to demand money from a party that has made no promise to him; yet if he gives it to induce another to steal or murder, the purpose of the act makes it a crime.

A bank that receives deposits to be drawn upon by check of course authorizes its depositors to draw checks against their accounts, and holders of such checks to present them for payment. When we think of the ordinary case, the right of the holder is so unimpeded that it seems to us absolute. But, looked at from either side, it cannot be so. The interests of business also are recognized as rights, protected against injury to a greater or less extent, and in case of conflict between the claims of business, on the one side, and of third persons, on the other, lines have to be drawn that limit both. A man has a right to give advice, but advice given for the sole purpose of injuring another's business, and effective on a large scale, might create a cause of action. Banks, as we know them, could not exist if they could not rely upon averages, and lend a large part of the money that they receive from their depositors on the assumption that not more than a certain fraction of it will be demanded on any one day. If without a word of falsehood, but acting from what we have called disinterested malevolence, a man by persuasion should organize and carry into effect a run upon a bank, and ruin it, we cannot doubt that an action would lie. A similar result, even if less complete in its effect, is to be [359] expected from the course that the defendants are alleged to intend; and to determine whether they are authorized to follow that course it is not enough to refer to the general right of a holder of checks to present them, but it is necessary to consider whether the collection of checks, and presenting them in a body, for the purpose of breaking down the petitioner's business as now conducted, is justified by the ulterior purpose in view.

If this were a case of competition in private business, it would be hard to admit the justification of self-interest, considering the now current opinion as to public policy, expressed in statutes and decisions. But this is not private business. The policy of the Federal reserve banks is governed by the policy of the United States with regard to them and to these relatively feeble competitors. We do not need aid from the debates upon the statute under which the reserve banks exist to assume that the United States did not intend by that statute to sanction this sort of warfare upon legitimate creations of the states. Decree reversed.

[blocks in formation]

1. After the allowance of a writ of error from the Federal Supreme Court to the court of appeals of the District of Columbia, the cause passed beyond the jurisdiction of the latter court.

[For other cases, see Appeal and Error, IV. g. 3, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.] Appeal

[ocr errors]

review moot case.

2. The Federal Supreme Court will not pass upon the merits of a writ of error sued out to review a judgment in an action to recover the possession of real estate, where, pending review, the defendant in error (plaintiff below) has parted with the title to the premises, so that no controversy remains, except as to costs. [For other cases, see Appeal and Error, VII. 1, 2, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.] Appeal 3. The Federal Supreme Court, though unable to consider the merits of a case, owing to the moot character of the issues involved, is at liberty to make such order as is consonant to justice, in view of the conditions and circumstances of the case. [For other cases, see Appeal and Error, IX. e, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.] Appeal

judgment - moot case.

costs moot case.

4. Costs incurred upon a writ of error sued out of the Federal Supreme Court to review a judgment in an action to recover by the defendant in error (plaintiff below), possession of real property should be paid where he, without fault of the plaintiff in error, practically ended the controversy after the proceedings below, by parting with the title to the premises, thus causing the case to become moot.

[For other cases, see Appeal and Error, IX. f, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.1

[blocks in formation]

IN

Decided

N ERROR to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia to review a judgment which affirmed a judgment of the Supreme Court of the District, in favor of plaintiff in a suit to recover possession of real property. Reversed and remanded, with directions to remand the case to the Supreme Court of the District for dismissal of the complaint. See same case below, 49 App. D. C. 391, 266 Fed. 1011.

The facts are stated in the opinion. Mr. Chapin Brown argued the cause, and, with Mr. C. B. Bauman, filed a brief for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Wharton E. Lester argued the cause and filed a brief for defendant in

error.

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion

of the court:

called Saulsbury Resolution of May 31, and of rule 19 of the supreme court of 1918 (40 Stat. at L. 593, chap. 90), the District of Columbia. Other errors, not necessary to notice, are also assigned.

[361] The judgment of the court of appeals of the District, affirming that of the supreme court, was rendered on January 5, 1920, and on January 15, 1920, a writ of error was allowed, bringing the case to this court. On February 5, 1920, Stokes, appellee in the court of appeals, and defendant in error here, filed a motion to dismiss the writ of error upon the ground that he had sold and conveyed the real estate, the possession of which was the subject-matter in dispute, and had no further interest in the cause except to recover costs and rental due because of the wrongful detention of the property, and upon the further ground that no appeal bond had been filed by the appellant. The court of appeals

denied the motion. After the allowance of the writ of error, the cause had passed beyond the jurisdiction of that court.

In this court the defendant in error,

Stokes, moves to dismiss the writ of error, setting forth as grounds for the mo

tion:

1. The cause of action between the parties hereto has ceased to exist, for that, after the judgment of the court of Sylvanus Stokes brought suit in the appeals of the District of Columbia, apmunicipal court of the District of Co- pellee sold and conveyed the real estate, lumbia to recover from Anna Heitmuller the subject-matter of this suit, and possession of premises number 1505, 22d therefore is not now entitled to the restreet, northwest, in the city of Wash-lief herein sought; namely, the possesington, District of Columbia. Stokes sion of said premises.

3. The only question now involved in this appeal is that of costs.

claimed to be the purchaser of the 2. There is now no actual controversy premises, and the action was brought involving real and substantial rights against Anna Heitmuller as tenant between the parties to the record, and thereof. Trial was had in the municipal no subject-matter upon which the judgcourt, and judgment rendered in favor ment of this court can operate. of the defendant. Stokes appealed to the supreme court of the District of Columbia, and filed an affidavit after the docketing of the appeal, as required by rule 19 of that court. Defendant filed an affidavit setting forth grounds of defense. The supreme court entered judgment for the plaintiff, Stokes, upon the ground that the defense, as set forth by the defendant, was insufficient to defeat the plaintiff's recovery. The case taken to the court of appeals of the District of Columbia, where the judgment of the supreme court was affirmed. 49 App. D. C. 391, 266 Fed. 1011. A writ of error brings the case to this | Mills v. Green, 159 U. S. 651, 653, 40 L. court.

was

The errors assigned raise constitutional questions as to the validity of the so

65 L. ed.

As the action was brought to recover the possession of real estate, and as the defendant in error has, pending review in this court, sold it, we agree with the contention that the case has become moot. The plaintiff in error, so far as the record discloses, is in possession, and the defendant [362] in error having sold and conveyed the property, a judgment, if in his favor, will not give him possession of the premises. It has been often held that this court will not decide moot cases. The rule was stated in

ed. 293, 294, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 132.

"The duty of this court, as of every other judicial tribunal, is to decide actu

al controversies by a judgment which can be carried into effect, and not to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in the case before it. It necessarily follows that when, pending an appeal from the judgment of a lower court, and without any fault of the defendant, an event occurs which renders it impossible for this court, if it should decide the case in favor of the plaintiff, to grant him any effectual relief whatever, the court will not proceed to a formal judgment, but will dismiss the appeal. And such fact, when not appearing on the record, may be proved by extrinsic evidence. Lord

baggage porter while the railroad was under
the control of and operated by the United
States is not comprehended by the provision
of the Federal Criminal Code, § 39, making
it a criminal offense to bribe or attempt to
bribe an officer of the United States, or a
person acting for or on behalf of the United
States in an official function under or by the
authority of a department or office of the
government.

For other cases, see Bribery: United States,
III. b, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.]
Statutes - construction of criminal law
ambiguity.

2. While criminal statutes are to be given a reasonable construction, ambiguities are not to be solved so as to embrace offenses not clearly within the law.

[For other cases, see Statutes, III. m, in Digest Sup. Ct. 1908.]

[No. 260.]

1921.

v. Veazie, 8 How. 251, 12 L. ed. 1067; California v. San Pablo & T. R. Co. 149 U. S. 308, 37 L. ed. 747, 13 Sup. Ct. Argued March 23, 1921. Decided May 16, Rep. 876." See also United States v. Hamburg-Amerikanische PacketfahrtActien Gesellschaft, 239 U. S. 466, 476, 60 L. ed. 387, 391, 36 Sup. Ct. Rep. 212,

and cases cited.

Where no controversy remains except as to costs, this court will not pass upon the merits. Paper Bag Mach. Cases, 105 U. S. 766, 772, 26 L. ed. 959, 961. It remains to be considered what order should be made. Although, owing to the moot character of the issue involved, we may not consider the merits, we are at liberty to make such order as is "most consonant to justice, in view of the conditions and circumstances of the case." United States v. Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien Gesellschaft, supra, pp. 477, 478.

In the case now before us, without fault of the plaintiff in error, the defendant in error, after the proceedings below, practically ended the controversy by parting with title to the premises, thus causing the case to become moot. [363] In such case the costs incurred upon the writ of error should be paid by the defendant in error.

Reversed, and remanded to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, with direction to remand to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, with instructions to dismiss the complaint.

HARRY KRICHMAN, Petitioner,

V.

N WRIT of Certiorari to the United
ON
the Second Circuit, to review a judgment
States Circuit Court of Appeals for

trict Court for the Southern District of
which affirmed a conviction in the Dis-
New York, of offering a bribe to a bag-
gage porter while the railroad was under
Federal control. Reversed.

See same case below, 263 Fed. 538.

C. C. A.

The facts are stated in the opinion. Mr. Edward Schoen argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioner.

Mr. W. C. Herron argued the cause, and, with Assistant Attorney General Stewart, filed a brief for respondent.

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

Krichman, petitioner, was convicted upon an indictment which charged that while the Pennsylvania Railroad was under the control of and being operated by the [364] United States, he offered a bribe to a baggage porter to do an act in violation of his duty, contrary to § 39 of the Criminal Code of the United States (35 Stat. at L. 1096, chap. 321, Comp. Stat. § 10,203, 7 Fed. Stat. Anno. 2d ed. p. 602). The section is in the margin.1

Note. On construction of statutes, generally-see notes to Riggs v. Palmer, 5 L.R.A. 340; Maillard v. Lawrence, 14 L. ed. U. S. 925; United States v. Saunders, 22 L. ed. U. S. 736, and Blake v. National City Bank, 23 L. ed. U. S. 119. 1 Section 39 is as follows: "Whoever shall promise, offer, or give, or cause or procure to be promised, offered, or 1. Bribery or attempted bribery of a given, any money or other thing of value,

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (See S. C. Reporter's ed. 363-368.) Bribery Federal official, or person exercising official function baggage porter Federal railroad control.

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