« ForrigeFortsett »
to the conclusion, that the judgments of the courts of other New-york, „ . . . . . Nov. 1803.
dates m the union, are to be viewed in the light of foreign \-^-v-^_y
judgments only. """j** a'ld
Independent of the constitution of the United States, and _ *■ ,
r , . Daniel Aickcn.
the aft of congrels alluded to, it is clear, that the judgments
Ot decrees of the courts of a neighbouring (late, when made the ground of an original fuit here, would be considered as foreign judgments, and as fuch, by the Englifh law and our own, would be received as prima facie evidence of the justice of the plaintiffs demand, but liable to be examined and impeached by the defendant. This would follow from the Angle confideration that the juiifdi£tion of each itate, with refpetfc to its internal administration of justice, is diltintt and independent of every other. It remains, therefore, to be feen, whether the constitution and a£t of congrefs have created a different rule.
In the examination of this fubje£t, it may be proper to notice, that the former confederation contained a fimilar provision. By the confederation it was declared, that "full "fiith and credit fhould be given in thefe states, to the re"cords, acls, and judicial proceedings of the courts and ■ magistrates of every other state." At an early period, doubts appear to have arifen 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 Peimfylvania decided, that this article of the confederation fhould not be fo construed, as to make a judgment, obtained on a foreign attachment, in Maffachufetts, conclusive in Peimfylvania.
The constitution of the United States, it feems, intended
to remove thefe doubts, and plainly diftinguifhes between
the faith and credit which fhall be due to fuch records, a£ts,
Bnd judicial proceedings, and their legal effect or operation.
It first declare-, nearly in the terms of the confederation,
that "fullfaith and credit fhall be given to the public acts,
'records, and judicial proceedings of any other Itate," and
en distinctly provides, that "congrefs may, by general
laws prefcribe the manner in which fuch acts, records,
and judicial proceedings fhall be proved, and the tffecl
thereof" The full faith and credit, intended by the con
NEW YORK, ftitution, cannot be interpreted to rhean their legal effect,
'-~-*-^-^_-' for otherwife, the fubfequent provifion that congrefs maj;
HitCyiwh 3Dd Prefcribe, the effeB would be fenfelefs and nugatory. The v- . conftitution marks a plain diftinclion between credit and tf
feci; and that diftinction, I think, is confluent with tha:
principle of the common law, which afcribes abfolute 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 fa£t, the record of which cannot be denied, and is conclufive of the fa£t, and it is, accordingly the fubject of a peculiar mode of trial; but its legal effect, or operation on the rights of the parties, is ftill to be confidered, and frequently may form a diftindt queftion. The provifion in the conftitution,relative to the judicial proceedings of the courts of the different ftates, can extend no farther.
Congrefs have the power toprefcribe the mode of proof, and the effect. By their a£t, of the 26th May 1790, they hxw prefcribed the mode of proof, but they have not declared the effect, unlcfs the following words of die att be confidered In that light: "And the faid records and judicial proceed"ings, authenticated as aforcfaid, (hall have fuch faith and "credit given to them, in every court within the United "States, as they have by law or ufage in the courts of the "ftate from whence faid records are, or (hall be taken."
At firft view, the framers of this a£t feem to have intended a regulation beyond die provifion contained in the constitution; but if this was their intent, I think, they have cot accompliihed the end- The conftitution itfelf declares, that full faith and credit fliall be given to fuch proceedings. This imports abfolute verity. It cannot be increafed in degree, and congrefs had not the power to diminifh die credit. When, therefore, the act declares, tint fuch faith and credit fliall be given to diem, as they have by law or ufage, in the courts of the ftate from whence tliev are taken, it can mean no other than full faith and credit. From the nature of the tiling, it can mean no more, and without impeaching the abfolute verity aferibed to them by the conftitution, it cannot mean lefs. It, therefore, leaves the credit and the queftion, as to the legal effect and operation, precifely «here
OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK. 477
they were, and the power to prefcribe the effeft remains Nf.w-yorki
'x Nov. 1803. ,
It iseafyto perceive, tfi&t ferious difficulties would occur Hitchcock and in attempting to carry this power into execution, and thefe . v
difficulties have, probably, embarraffed and deterred con
grefs from exercifing it. In their aft, we find the fame term-, "faith and credit" which are ufed in the conftitution, and thofe only. The conftitution, however, makes the diitinction, as has been (hewn, between credit and effeft. With this diftinftion, plainly drawn, I cannot fuppofe that congrefs meant to confound it by treating the terms faith and credit, as fynonimous with effeft. On the contrary, they muft be confidered as conveying the fame fenfe, both in the conftitution and the aft; and of courfe, that congrefs have not executed the power of declaring the effeft. Until that be done, the legal operation of fuch judgments, muft be the fame as it was before there exifted any legillative provifion on the fubjeft. Nothing more than the mode of authentication was, therefore, provided for by the aft of congrefs. 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 eftabliihed, and their effeft or operation, not being declared, remains as at the common law. I am fenfible, that the cafe of Armftrong v. Carfon
n. i • e ■ i • i r> • ,n * Dall. 30s.
ttands in oppolition to tins doctrine. 1 hat was an action of debt in the circuit court of the United States, for the diftrift of Pennfylvania, brought on a judgment obtained in New-Jerfey, in which the counfel for the defendant yielded the pofition, that the judgment was conclufive ; and the court, without a previous difcuffion, adopted the idea, on the fuppofition, that the aft of congrefs had declared the effeft to be conclufive. The prefiding judge, in delivering the opinion of the court, ftates the aft, as having exprefsly declared the effect. In terms he was evidently inacurate, and whatever refpeft may be due to the decifions of that court, its opinion, in this inftance, does not appear to me to be correct., nor to have been founded on a deliberate examination of the fubjeft.
Upon the conftruftion of this article of the conftitution,
NEWY-ORK, an(l the a£r. of congTefs, I am, therefore, of opinion, that tli v^»^-«^y judgments of other dates are to be confidered in the light' HitCf"(.Ct and foreign judgments, and when inade, the foundation c
T, ■ ,v; • i fuit in our own courts are not conclufive, but from count
Daniel Aickcn. •
„ are to be admitted as presumptive evidence only of a title iu
recover, according to our own laws. To allow them a greater effe£t, might be attended with much inconvenience, and produce an irregular interference of jurifdiclian between different ftates, and, in fome cafes, enable them to prefcribe the law to each other. The confequences cannot eafilj be forefeen, and might often lead to injuftice and individual oppreffion.
I am of opinion, that the verdift be fet aGde, and a new trial be awarded.
Kent J. The important queftion arifing in this cafe is, what is to be the effec~b in this court, of the judgment in Vermont, according to the conftitution and laws of the United States?
The conftitution declares, that a full faith and credit (hall be given in each ft ate, to the public adts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other ftate, and that congTefs may, i by general laws, prefcribe the manner in which fuch acts,
records, and proceedings, fhall be proved, and the etrect thereof.
This injunction, that they were to receive ftM/aili"1* credit in every ftate, made a part alfo of the articles of confederation; but, under thofe articles, it feems to have been underftood, that the queftion on the effect of fuch record and judicial proceedings, was ftill left open. In the cafe ct 1 Dal. 188. James v. Allen, in the court of common pleas at Philadelphia, in the year 1786, a queftion arofe on the effecl or a difcharge under the infolvent law of New-Jerfey, anduV conftrudion of this article in the confederation was brought into difcuflion, and it was contended, that a judgment, or other judicial proceedings of another ftate, was, by this article, rendered unexaminable and conclufive evidence.
But the court faid, that the article would not adait<« that conftruftion, and that it was chiefly intended to oMip each ftate to receive the records of another, as fall evident /
of fuch a£ts and judicial proceedings. Again, in the cafe of NEW-YORK, Phelps v. Holber, in the fupreme court of Pennfylvania, in ^^-^^^^y April term '88, an aftion of debt was brought upon a judg<- Hitc]£°chk and ment in Mafachufetts ; which judgment was obtained againft v
3 b b Daniel AicVtn.
die defendant by default, and founded on an attachment of
; blanket, which was fhewn to the fherlff as the reputed i Dallas, J6i. property of the defendant, and the queftion was, whether the judgment was conclufive evidence of the debt. It was contended, on one fide, that the judgment was, by the articles of confederation, rendered conclufive, and that it made no difference in the cafe, that the judgment was obtained by the procefs of a foreign attachment. The other fide infilled, that the articles of confederation, provide only, that in matters of evidence, mutual faith and credit fhould be given, and efpecially, that they ought not to be conclufive when founded on foreign attachment. The court decided, that the defendant was (till at liberty to controvert and deny the debt, and that the articles of confederation muft not be conflrued to work fuch evident injuftice, as was contained in the doctrine urged by the plaintiff. Another cafe I (hall mention, was that of Kibbe v. Kibbe, decided in the fuperior court of Kirby 119. Connecticut, in the year 1786. It was an action of debt on a judgment obtained in Mafachufetts by default, and founded on the attachment of a handkerchief, and fo, like the preceding cafe, a proceeding in rem. The queftion came before the court on demurrer, and judgment was given for the defendant, on the ground, that the court in Maffachufetts had nojurifdittion of the caufe; but, the court admitted, that fuU'credence ought to be given to judgments in other ftates, where both parties were within the jurifdiction of the court, and the defendant duly ferved with procefs, and had, or might have had, a fair trial of the caufe.
It appears from thefe decifion^, that judgments in other ftates were not regarded under the confederation, as of binding and conclufive efFedt; and the defendant was admitted to deny the regularity and equity of the proceedings, by which the judgment was obtained. This was placing the judgments of the other ftates on the bafis of foreign judgments, which are received only us prima facie evidence of the