DOW V. JOHNSON, 100 U. S. 158 (1879)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dow v. Johnson, 100 U.S. 158 (1879)

Dow v. Johnson

100 U.S. 158


1. On the trial of an action at law, when the judges of the circuit court are opposed in opinion on a material question of law, the opinion of the presiding judge prevails; but the judgment rendered conformably thereto may, with out regard to its amount, be reviewed on a writ of error, upon their certificate stating such question.

2. An officer of the Army of the United States, whilst serving in the enemy's country during the rebellion, was not liable to an action in the courts of that country for injuries resulting from his military orders or acts; nor could he be required by a civil tribunal to justify or explain them upon any allegation of the injured party that they were not justified by military necessity. He was subject to the laws of war, and amenable only to his own government.

3. When any portion of the insurgent states was in the occupation of the forces of the United States during the rebellion, the municipal laws, if not suspended or superseded, were generally administered there by the ordinary tribunals for the protection and benefit of persons not in the military service. Their continued enforcement was not for the protection or the control of officers or soldiers of the army.

4. A district court of Louisiana -- continued in existence after the military occupation of the state by the United States, and authorized by the commanding general to hear causes between parties -- summoned a brigadier general of the Army of the United States to answer a petition filed therein, setting forth that a military company had, pursuant to his orders, seized and carried off certain personal property of the plaintiff, who alleged that the seizure was unauthorized by the necessities of war, or martial law, or by the superiors of that officer. Judgment by default was rendered April 9, 1883, against him for the value of the property. When sued in the circuit court of the United States, upon the judgment, he pleaded that the property was taken to supply the army. Held, on demurrer to the plea, that the state court had no jurisdiction of the cause of action, and that the judgment was void.

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