« ForrigeFortsett »
the court:—But, before execution, the defendant escapest.
another state, where he is fued on this judgment. It is alleg
ed there, that the merits have not been fairly tried, and the
judges, giving way to certain qualms left they may commit
a wrong in carrying our judgment into effect, try the cult
again. By this time, perhaps, the plaintiff's witneffes are
dead, or not to be found: at any rate, the additional coffs,
pains, and delay, are intolerable. Thus the inconvenienties
of opening domestic judgments, on the fuggestion of the
party who pretends to be aggrieved, will far outweighthol:
which may be the consequence of a contrary rule, to which
it will be eafy to make exceptions as fit cafes occur.
As then, this is a judgment neither in rem, which, like
fentences in the admiralty, bind only the property and fecure
the vendee; nor by default, where the defendant was not
fummoned; but is against the person; and after a fulde-
fence and hearing, the constitution of the United States, and
the reasonableness of the thing, constrain me to regarditas
conclusive of every matter determined by it, between the
parties to the record. I cannot, therefore, litten to any all-
gation to the contrary, nor confent to another trial, the avow:
ed object of which is, to impeach its verity and justice, and
to bring on before us a new discuffion of the original ments
Radcliff J. The question fubmitted to our decifion is
whether the judgment in Vermont, is to be confidered in the
light of foreign judgments, and evidence primaficieon' of
the plaintiff's demand, or shall conclude the defendant If"
is to be viewed in the light of foreign judgments only, then"
new trial is to be awarded in the prefent action, otherwie,
judgment is to be rendered for the plaintiffs.
This question arises on the first fection of the *
article of the constitution of the United States, and the *
of congress, made in pursuance of it, and may seriously 1.
fe& the administration of justice, in every state. It is, *
fore, peculiarly interesting, that it should receive a cond
and uniform decifion. It has, on former occasions, incik"
ally occurred in this court, and opinions have been intim'.
ed, but it has not received a direct determination.
From the best confideration I am able to give it, I am le:
to the conclusion, that the judgments of the courts of other itates in the union, are to be viewed in the light of foreign judgments only. Independent of the constitution of the United States, and the act of congress alluded to, it is clear, that the judgments or decrees of the courts of a neighbouring state, when made the ground of an original fuit here, would be confidered as foreign judgments, and as fuch, by the English law and our own, would be received as prima facie evidence of the justice of the plaintiff’s demand, but liable to be examined and impeached by the defendant. This would follow from the fingle confideration that the jurisdiction of each state, with refpect to its internal administration of justice, is distinct and independent of every other. It remains, therefore, to be feen, whether the conftitution and act of congrefs have created a different rule. In the examination of this fubject, it may be proper to notice, that the former confederation contained a fimilar provision. By the confederation it was declared, that “full “faith and credit should be given in these states, to the re“cords, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and “magistrates of every other state.” At an early period, doubts appear to have arisen as to the import of the terms full faith and credit. In the cafe of Phelps v. Holker, reported in 1 Dall. the fupreme court of Pennsylvania decided, that this article of the confederation flould not be fo contrued, as to make a judgment, obtained on a foreign attachment, in Maffachusetts, conclusive in Pennsylvania. The constitution of the United States, it feems, intended to remove these doubts, and plainly diftinguishes between the faith and credit which shall be due to fuch records, acts, and judicial proceedings, and their legal effect or operation. It first declares, nearly in the terms of the confederation, that “full faith and credit shall be given to the public acts, “records, and judicial proceedings of any other state,” and then distinctly provides, that “congress may, by general “laws prescribe the manner in which fuch acts, records, “and judicial proceedings fball be proved, and the off...?
“thereof.” The full faith and £, intended by the con3
NEW YORK, stitution, cannot be interpreted to mean their legal effed,
for otherwife, the fubsequent provision that congress may prescribe, the effect would be fenfeless and nugatory. The
Daniel Aicken, constitution marks a plain distinction between credit and f.
fe:#; and that distinction, I think, is confistent with that
principle of the common law, which ascribes absolute verity
to the records and judicial proceedings in our own courts.
When a judgment, or recovery in our own courts is pleaded,
it is alleged as a fact, the record of which cannot be denied,
and is conclusive of the fact, and it is, accordingly the full-
ject of a peculiar mode of trial; but its legal effect, or ope-
ration on the rights of the parties, is still to be confidered,
and frequently may form a distinct question. The provision
in the conftitution, relative to the judicial proceedings ofthe
courts of the different tates, can extend no farther.
Congress have the power to prescribe the mode of proof,
and the effect. By their act, of the 26th May 1790, they have
prescribed the mode of proof, but they have not declared the
effect, unless the following words of the act be confidered
in that light: “And the faid records and judicial proceed-
“ings, authenticated as aforefaid, shall have fuch faith and
“credit given to them, in every court within the United
“States, as they have by law or usage in the courts of the
“state from whence faid records are, or shall be taken.”
At first view, the framers of this act seem to have intend-
ed a regulation beyond the provision contained in the conti-
tution; but if this was their intent, I think, they have not
accomplished the end. The constitution itself declares, that
full faith and credit hall be given to fuch proceeding. This
imports al/olute verity. It cannot be increased in degree, and
congress had not the power to diminish the credit. When,
therefore, the act declares, that fuch faith and credit hall be
given to them, as they have by law or usage, in the
courts of the flate from whence they are taken, it can
mean no other than full faith and credit. From the nature
of the thing, it can mean no more, and without impeaching
the absolute verity ascribed to them by the conflitution, it
cannot mean lefs. It, therefore, leaves the credit and the
question, as to the legal effect and operation, precisely where
* they were, and the power to prescribe the effect remains *#9: ov. 1863. , ~ /
It is easy to perceive, tfiat serious difficulties would occur
in attempting to carry this power into execution, and these v.
i pting rry p * 2 Daniel Aicken.
difficulties have, probably, embarraffed and deterred con-
gress from exercising it. In their act, we find the fame terms,
“faith and credit,” which are used in the constitution, and
those only. The constitution, however, makes the distinc-
tion, as has been flewn, between credit and effect. With
this distinction, plainly drawn, I cannot fuppose that con-
gress meant to confound it by treating the terms faith and
credit, as fynonimous with effect. On the contrary, they
must be confidered as conveying the fame sense, both in the
constitution and the act; and of course, that congress have
not executed the power of declaring the effect. Until that
be done, the legal operation of fuch judgments, must be the
fame as it was before there existed any legislative provision
on the fubject. Nothing more than the mode of authentica-
tion was, therefore, provided for by the act of congress. When
fo authenticated, they are entitled to full faith and credit;
but they are to be received as evidence merely, by which their
contents are undeniably established, and their effect or ope-
ration, not being declared, remains as at the common law.
I am fenfible, that the cafe of Armstrong v. Carfon
flands in opposition to this doctrine. That was an ac-
tion of debt in the circuit court of the United States, for
the district of Pennsylvania, brought on a judgment obtain-
ed in New-Jersey, in which the counsel for the defendant
yielded the pofition, that the judgment was conclusive; and
... the court, without a previous discuffion, adopted the idea,
on the fupposition, that the act of congress had declared the
# effect to be conclusive. The prefiding judge, in delivering the opinion of the court, states the act, as having exprefly
declared the £ffeå. In terms he was evidently inacurate, and
#. whatever respect may be due to the decifions of that court,
its opinion, in this instance, does not appear to me to be cor
# nor to have been founded on a deliberate examination
of the fubject.
Upon the construction of this article of the constitution,
NEWY-ORK, and the act of congress, I am, therefore, of opinion, that th Nov. 1803.
na judgments of other states are to be considered in the light Hitchcock
and foreign judgments, and when made, the foundation Daniel Aicken. miche suit in our own courts are not conclusive, but from courte
are to be admitted as presumptive evidence only of a title w recover, according to our own laws. To allow them a greater effect, might be attended with much inconvenience, and produce an irregular interference of jurisdiction between different states, and, in some cases, enable them to prescribe the law to each other. The consequences cannot eably be foreseen, and might often lead to injustice and individual oppression.
I am of opinion, that the verdict be set aside, and a new trial be awarded.
Kent J. The important question arifing in this case is, what is to be the effect in this court, of the judgment in Vermont, according to the constitution and laws of the U. nited States ?
The constitution declares, that a full faith and credit shall be given in each state, to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state, and that congress may, by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings, shall be proved, and the effect thereof.
This injunction, that they were to receive fiell faith and credit in every state, made a part also of the articles of colfederation ; but, under those articles, it seems to have been understood, that the question on the effect of such records
and judicial proceedings, was still left open. In the cale of 1 Dal. 188. James v. Allen, in the court of common pleas at Philadel
phia, in the year 1786, a question arofe on the effect of a discharge under the insolvent law of New Jersey, and the construction of this article in the confederation was brought into discussion, and it was contended, that a judgment, of other judicial proceedings of another state, was, by this article, rendered unexaminable and conclusive evidence,
But the court said, that the article would not admit of that construction, and that it was chiefly intended to oblige each state to receive the records of another, as full evidence