« ForrigeFortsett »
necessity, therefore, the federal courts exercise an ancillary jurisdiction in such cases; and third persons are permitted to come into the federal court, and set up their interest in the property, and secure the same full and adequate protection and relief to which they would be entitled in any court of competent jurisdiction, were the property not impounded in the federal court. In Freeman v. Howe, 24 How. 450, a sheriff, under a replevin from a state court sued out by mortgagees of a railroad company, ousted a United States marshal from possession of certain railroad cars attached by him under mesne process from a federal court. The act of the sheriff was held void, without respect to the merits of the conflicting claims of the plaintiffs in the two proceedings, because the cars were in the custody of the federal court, and beyond the reach of the sheriff, when he served the replevin. And it was answered, to the argument that in this way the replevying mortgagees were left remediless, because their citizenship prevented recourse to the federal court, that the federal court, to prevent such abuse of its process, had jurisdiction, ancillary to its original jurisdiction asserted in the attachment, to afford the mortgagees all the relief they could obtain in any court where the jurisdiction was not limited by citizenship. In Bank v. Calhoun, 102 U. S. 256, a federal court had taken possession, by its receiver, of the mortgaged railroad in a foreclosure suit. In an action between other parties, an attachment was sued out, and levied upon the road. It was held that the federal court, having drawn to itself the subject-matter of the litigation, had acquired the right and jurisdiction to decide upon all conflicting claims to the possession and control of the road, and that the attachment suit which had begun in the state court could be properly removed, by stipulation of the parties, to the federal court, because, in the language of Justice Miller:
"The parties did no more than what they could have been compelled to do by the injunction of the latter [that is, the federal court], and what would have been done by such compulsory order, if they had not submitted to it by agreement."
In Krippendorf v. Hyde, 110 U. S. 276, 4 Sup. Ct. 27, a marshal, on mesne process issuing out of the federal court, attached property, as the property of the defendant, in the possession of another, who claimed to own it. It was held that this other, although a citizen of the same state as the defendant, might seek redress in the federal court, either by a petition pro interesse suo, or by ancillary bill, or by summary motion, according to circumstances. In this case Mr. Justice Matthews reviews the decision and language of Mr. Justice Nelson in the case of Freeman v. Howe, and, speaking for the court, fully approves the same. He said:
"It has been sometimes said that this statement was obiter dictum, and not to be treated as the law of the case; but it was, in point of fact, a substantial part of the argument in support of the judgment, and, on consideration, we feel bound to confirm it, in substance, as logically necessary to it. For if we affirm, as that decision does, the exclusive right of the circuit court in such a case to maintain the custody of property seized and held under its process by its officers, and thus to take from owners wrongfully deprived of possession the ordinary means of redress by suits for restitu
tion in state courts, where any one may sue, without regard to citizenship, it is but common justice to furnish them with an equal and adequate remedy in the court itself which maintains control of the property; and as this may not be done by original suits, on account of the nature of the jurisdiction, as limited by differences of citizenship, it can only be accomplished by the exercise of the inherent and equitable powers of the court in ancillary and dependent proceedings incidental to the cause in which the property is held, so as to give to the claimant from whose possession it has been taken the opportunity to assert and enforce his right.”
In Gumbel v. Pitkin, 124 U. S. 132, 8 Sup. Ct. 379, a United States marshal, by invalid process issued from a federal court, took possession of property. A sheriff sought to levy on the property by virtue of a lawful attachment for a state court, and left it with the marshal as garnishee. Subsequently the marshal sold the property under a valid process coming to his hands after the sheriff's attempt at garnishment. It was held that the plaintiff in the state attachment proceedings might intervene in the federal court, and be awarded the priority to which he would have been entitled had the sheriff been permitted to make an actual levy under his writ. . Said Mr. Justice Matthews, in summing up the conclusion of the court:
"The case, therefore, stands thus: For the reasons growing out of the peculiar relation between federal and state courts exercising co-ordinate Jurisdiction over the same territory, the circuit court acquired the exclusive jurisdiction to dispose of the property brought into its custody under color of its authority, although by illegal means, and to decide all questions of conflicting right thereto. The plaintiff in error, having pursued his remedy by action against his debtor in the state court, to which alone, by reason of citizenship, he could resort, attempted the levy of his writ of attachment upon the goods in the possession of the marshal. Not being allowed to withdraw from the marshal the actual possession of the property sought to be attached, he served upon the marshal notice of his writ as garnishee. Not being able by this process to subject the marshal to answer personally to the state court, he made himself a party to the proceedings in the circuit court, by its leave, and proceeded in that tribunal against its officer and the creditors for whom he had acted. On a regular trial it appeared as a fact that at the time of the notice the marshal was in possession of the property wrongfully, as an officer, and therefore chargeable as an individual. It was competent for the circuit court, and, having the power, it was its duty, to hold the marshal liable as garnishee; and having in its custody. the fund arising from the sale of the property, and all the parties interested in it before it, that court was bound to do complete justice between all the parties, on the footing of these rights, and give to the plaintiff in error the priority over all other creditors to which, by virtue of his proceedings, and as prayed for in his petition of intervention, he was entitled.”
The case most like the case at bar is that of Morgan's L. & T. Railroad & Steamship Co. v. Texas Cent. Ry. Co., 137 U. S. 171, 11 Sup. Ct. 61. In this suit the complainant company, a citizen of Louisiana, filed a bill in a circuit court of the United States sitting in Texas against the Texas Central Railway Company, a citizen of Texas, against the Farmers' Loan & Trust Company, a citizen of New York, and the Metropolitan Trust Company, a citizen of New York, seeking to have certain debts owing by the Texas Central Railway Company to it declared a lien on the railroad of the railway company, prior in right to mortgages upon the same road held by the other
defendants the two trust companies. A receiver had been appointed in the original suit. Subsequently the Farmers' Loan & Trust Company filed its cross bill against the complainant and its codefendants, including the Metropolitan Trust Company. As the two trust companies were citizens of the same state, New York,—the jurisdiction of the court could not be maintained to give relief on the cross bill, if it depended on diverse citizenship. Objection was taken to the action of the court in granting foreclosure upon the cross bill, but the objection was not sustained in the supreme court of the United States. Said the chief justice, on page 201, 137 U. S., and page 61, 11 Sup. Ct.:
"It may be that, so far as it sought the further aid of the court beyond the purposes of defense to the original bill, it was not a pure cross bill, but that is immaterial. The subject-matter was the same, although the complainant in the cross bill asserted rights to the property different from those allowed to it in the original bill, and claimed an affirmative decree upon those rights. A complete determination of the matters already in litigation could not have been obtained, except through a cross bill, and different relief from that prayed in the original bill would necessarily be sought.
* And whether this bill be regarded as a pure cross bill, as an original bill in the nature of a cross bill, or as an original bill, there is no error calling for the disturbance of the decree because the court proceeded upon it in connection with the other pleadings. The jurisdiction of the circuit court did not depend upon the citizenship of the parties, but on the subjectmatter in litigation. The property was in the actual possession of that court, and this drew to it the right to decide upon the conflicting claims to its ultimate possession and control.”
The clause in the foregoing which we have italicized shows clearly that the ancillary jurisdiction of the federal court growing out of its possession of property may be invoked by original bill as well as by intervening petition.
Other cases to the same point are Trust Co. v. Bridges, 6 C. C. A. 539, 57 Fed. 753; Conwell v. Canal Co., 4 Biss. 195, Fed. Cas. No. 3,148; Carey v. Railway Co., 52 Fed. 671.
The bill of Knox and Jesup was therefore cognizable by the court below, as ancillary to the litigation in which the mortgage of the Central Trust Company and Cheney, trustees, was foreclosed. That, it will be remembered, was a consolidation of the insolvency bill filed by the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company against the Central Trust Company and others, and of the foreclosure bills of the Central Trust Company removed from the state court. Some claim is made that the federal court had no jurisdiction to entertain the insolvency bill, because such a proceeding was without precedent. Whether precedents in equity practice and jurisprudence justified the bill was for the decision of the court in which the bill was filed. It cannot be reviewed in this proceeding, which, while dependent on that, and ancillary to it, is collateral to it, in so far as to prevent an examination of the correctness of the orders and decrees made in it. Railroad Co. v. Humphreys, 145 U. S. 82, 12 Sup. Ct. 787; Mellen v. Iron Works, 131 U. s. 352, 9 Sup. Ct. 781. The jurisdictional fact upon which the right of the court below to hear and determine the cause of action presented by Knox and Jesup's bill rested was the pending possession by that court's receivers of
the property sought to be sold in foreclosure. Johnson v. Christian, 125 U. S. 642–646, 8 Sup. Ct. 989, 1135. It was unnecessary to look further, for, even if the order under which that possession had been taken was irregular or erroneous, Gumbel v. Pitkin, Krippendorf v. Hyde, and Freeman v. Howe, cited above, all show that such possession would impose upon the court the duty, and would draw to it the jurisdictional power, of granting any relief requiring for its full measure the possession and control of the property.
It is further objected that the court below had no power to take possession of the railroad property by its receivers in 1884, pending the suit of Compton, in the common pleas court, to subject the property to the payment of his liens. The argument is that Compton's suit was in the nature of a proceeding in rem, which impounded the property, and excluded any other court from assuming actual possession of it. Heidritter v. Oil-Cloth Co., 112 U. S. 294, 5 Sup. Ct. 135, is cited in support of this proposition. That was an ejectment suit. The plaintiff claimed under a sheriff's deed executed to a purchaser at a judicial sale by order of a state court, in a proceeding to enforce a mechanic's lien against the premises in controversy. The defendant claimed under a marshal's deed executed to the purchaser at a judicial sale by order of a federal court, in a proceeding, under the internal revenue laws, to forfeit the premises because used for illegal distilling. When claims for the mechanics’ liens were filed, and suits were brought to enforce the same, in accordance with the New Jersey statute, the premises were in the actual custody of the United States marshal, who had taken possession under process of attachment issued on an information to enforce a forfeiture, which resulted subsequently in a sale, and the deed under which defendant claimed. The sale under the proceedings in the state court took place a few days after that by the United States marshal. It was held that proceedings begun in the state court in the nature of proceedings in rem to subject the premises to sale were ineffectual to confer any legal title on a purchaser, if at the time they were begun the property was in the actual custody of the federal court for the purpose of a judicial sale by the latter court. It was not decided, however, that the proceedings in the state court might not be valid to establish the lien. The holding was expressly limited to the point that a deed under the state proceeding vested no legal title, as against the title conferred by the court first having actual custody of the property. It was the actual custody of the premises in the federal court which excluded the right of another court to entertain jurisdiction of a proceeding to subject the property thus removed from its control and disposition to a sale for the purpose of vesting a title superior to that which might be conferred by the federal court. Mere constructive possession would not have been enough to exclude possession by another court. In a conflict of jurisdictions, it is manifest that there can be no constructive possession by one court, where it cannot take actual possession, but it by no means follows that the constructive possession of one court will exclude the actual taking possession by another. For this reason, even if the proceeding in
the Lucas common pleas to establish Compton's lien was a proceeding in rem, it did not involve the actual seizure of the property pending the suit, and did not, therefore, prevent the federal court from taking actual possession of the property, through its receivers, in a proceeding to foreclose mortgages and other liens than Compton's. This objection to the jurisdiction of the court below over the Knox and Jesup bill cannot, therefore, be sustained.
We come now to the objection that, even if the jurisdiction of the bill be conceded, the court had no power to bring Compton before it. The argument is that the right of the federal court to grant relief to persons claiming an interest in property in its custody, without regard to their citizenship, is founded on its duty to prevent an abuse of its process to the prejudice of strangers to the suit, and is dependent on the wish of such strangers to secure that relief, expressed in an affirmative and voluntary appeal for the aid of the court, and that no power exists in the court to compel such a stranger to come into court, against his will, simply because he claims an interest in the property impounded, if his citizenship would prevent the issue of such process against him in the original suit. Let it be conceded, for the purpose of the argument, that the distinction made is a sound one. It does not help Compton. He was not brought into court to prevent prejudice to him by the federal court's possession of the res. He was brought into court to prevent prejudice to Knox and Jesup, who, otherwise having no right to invoke the action of the federal court, did so on the ground that its possession of the res prevented their getting full and adequate relief in the state tribunals, and who were therefore entitled to bring into the case every one whose presence as a party was necessary to give them such relief. They had the right to have the railroad sold free from all liens, so that the purchaser should have an unclouded title, and this could not be done without Compton's presence. Compton was not a resident of the district in which the court's ordinary process ran, and he could not be brought in by subpoena. Knox and Jesup's bill was, however, a proceeding against property in the jurisdiction of the court. It was competent for congress, in such a case, to provide for constructive service, which would bind the person against whom it issued to the extent only of the res which lay within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U. S. 714; Heidritter v. Oil-Cloth Co., 112 U. S. 294, 300, 301, 5 Sup. Ct. 135. Statutory provision of this kind is found in section 8 of the act of March 3, 1875 (18 Stat. 470), which was not repealed by the jurisdiction act of March 3, 1887 (24 Stat. 552), or of August 13, 1888 (25 Stat. 433), and is still in force. It provides:
"That when in any suit, commenced in any circuit court of the United States, to enforce any legal or equitable lien upon or claim to, or to remove any incumbrance or lien or cloud upon the title to real or personal property within the district where such suit is brought, one or more of the defendants therein shall not be an inhabitant of or found within, the said district, or shall not voluntarily appear thereto, it shall be lawful for the court to make an order directing such absent defendant or defendants to appear, plead, answer, or demur, by a day certain to be designated which order shall be served on such absent defendant or defendants, if practica