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U.S. Supreme Court

William Cramp & Sons v. Curtiss Marine Turbine Co., 228 U.S. 645 (1913)

William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company

v. Curtiss Marine Turbine Company

No. 1032

Petition for writ of certiorari submitted April 14, 1913

Decided May 26, 1913

228 U.S. 645


This Court does not sanction the procedure of the trial court in virtually declining to examine the merits of the case and entering a pro forma decree for the sake of expediting the hearing of the case on appeal, even though the court were actuated in so doing by a sense of public duty.

Under § 120 of the Judicial Code, which is a reenactment of a provision to the same effect in the Act of March 3, 1891, a judge who has heard the case in the first instance may not sit in the Circuit Court of Appeals for the purpose of reviewing his own action, even though in the court below he merely entered a decree pro forma without expressing any opinion on the merits and no objection was raised by either party to his sitting in the circuit court of appeals.

The trial and disposition of a case by a court organized in violation of a direct provision of statute is such a grave error, and involves consideration

Page 228 U. S. 646

of such public importance, as makes it the duty of this Court to allow a writ of certiorari without considering the merits.

Where it is manifest on the petition for certiorari that the judgment sought to be reviewed was rendered by a court not properly organized, this Court need proceed no further; in such a case, the writ of certiorari may be granted, the petition stand as a return to the writ, the judgment reversed, and the cause remanded.

The facts, which involve the construction of § 120 of the Judicial Code prohibiting the judge passing on the cause in the first instance from sitting in the circuit court of appeals, and the procedure of this Court in regard to a case here on petition for certiorari in which such a condition exists, are stated in the opinion.

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