STONE V. UNITED STATES, 164 U. S. 380 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stone v. United States, 164 U.S. 380 (1896)

Stone v. United States

No. 113

Argued November 4, 1896

Decided November 30, 1896

164 U.S. 380


The findings of the Court of Claims in an action at law determine all matters of fact, like the verdict of a jury, and when the finding does not disclose the testimony, but only describes its character, and, without questioning its competency, simply declares its insufficiency, this Court is not at liberty to refer to the opinion for the purpose of eking out, controlling, or modifying the scope of the findings.

Page 164 U. S. 381

On April 16, 1891, appellant, under authority of the Act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 851), filed his petition in the Court of Claims to recover the sum of $12,375 for certain property, to-wit, two geldings, of the value of $500 each, and 91 head of horses, of the value of $125 each, alleged to have been taken or destroyed by the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians on November 17, 1867. A traverse having been filed, the case was submitted to the court upon the evidence. Certain findings of fact were made, the second of which is as follows:

"The depredation was committed on the 17th November, 1867, near the Town of Fort Collins, in Larimer County, Colorado, by the defendant Indians. The claimant never presented this claim to the Department of the Interior, nor to Congress, nor to any officer or agent of the government, until his petition in this case was filed in this Court on the 16th April, 1891. It is supported only by the testimony of the claimant himself and one witness. Since the claimant testified, he has filed his own ex parte affidavit, stating that the witness above referred to 'is the only person with whom I am acquainted who is familiar with the theft complained of,' and that, of thirteen persons who followed the Indians at the time they took his horses, he does not know the whereabouts of any except the witness produced, and that he had used every endeavor to discover the other witnesses, but can secure no information except that they are dead. The court is not satisfied, by this evidence, as to the extent of the depredation or the value of the property."

Upon this finding, judgment was entered in favor of the defendants, 29 Ct.Cl. 111, from which judgment the claimant appealed to this Court.

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