ROBERTS V. COOPER, 61 U. S. 467 (1857)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Roberts v. Cooper, 61 U.S. 20 How. 467 467 (1857)

Roberts v. Cooper

61 U.S. (20 How.) 467


This Court again decides that after a case has been brought here and decided and a mandate issued to the court below, if a second writ of error is sued out, it brings up for revision nothing but the proceedings subsequent to the mandate.

The deposition of an officer of the General Land Office as to the opinions and practice prevailing in that office cannot be read to the jury as proof of the law, although it might have influence with the court in explaining the law to the jury.

The ancient English doctrines respecting maintenance or champerty have not found favor in the United States, and in Michigan where the land lies which is involved in the present controversy, its application to sales by one out of possession has been annulled.

Although in that state an agreement to carry on a suit upon condition of receiving a share of the proceeds might be void, yet the rule would not apply to a transfer of the legal estate to one in trust for himself and the other stockholders in a corporation.

This was the same case which was before this Court at December term, 1855, and is reported in 59 U. S. 18 How. 173.

A venire de novo having been ordered, the case came up again for trial, on the circuit in June, 1856. The result was a verdict and judgment in favor of Cooper, the lessor of the plaintiff in the original action.

The bill of exceptions stated that an agreed state of facts, dated Washington City, April 17, 1854, signed by S. F. Vinton for plaintiff and Truman Smith for defendant, with all the papers therein referred to and thereto annexed, was read in evidence to the jury, a true copy of which statement, with the papers thereto annexed, is hereto appended.

And there was also put in evidence and read to the jury a statement and stipulation dated June 24, 1856, and signed by S. F. Vinton for the plaintiff, and T. Romeyn for the defendant, together with the papers therein referred to and attached

Page 61 U. S. 468

thereto, a true copy of which statement, with a copy of all the papers thereto annexed, is hereto appended. The plaintiff objected to the reading of the deposition of John Wilson, and the court excluded the same from the jury, to which ruling the defendant excepted.

The defendant then produced and offered to prove a deed of release from Alfred Williams and wife to the Minnesota Mining Company, dated June 20, 1856, covering the lands in controversy, and further offered to prove in connection therewith that at the time when the said Cooper obtained the deed of the premises in controversy from Alfred Williams, the Minnesota Mining Company was in actual and open possession of the same, claiming title under their patent from the United States, and that the said Cooper knew of such claim and occupancy before and at the time of his purchase and of said conveyance; that he obtained said title from Alfred Williams, he being the naked trustee of John Bacon, and that all the negotiations for the said purchase, and the purchase itself, were had between said Cooper and Bacon, the said Williams acting under the directions and for the benefit of said Bacon, and having or claiming no personal interest in said lands; that said purchase and conveyance were made for the following purpose -- namely that said Cooper should hold the same in trust for a corporation known as the National Mining Company, all of whose stock was held by said John Bacon, and by the conditions of said sale, the said Cooper was to receive and did receive with said conveyance six-tenths of the stock aforesaid, and the said Bacon was to retain and did retain four-tenths of said stock. That the said Cooper purchased said stock and took said conveyance with a full knowledge of the claims and occupancy of the Minnesota Mining Company, and with the intention of prosecuting the title purchased by him, by legal proceedings in this Court against the Minnesota Mining Company for the benefit of the National Mining Company, and that before said conveyance was delivered to him by said Williams, the said Cooper, in conjunction with the said Bacon, applied to counsel in the City of Detroit to employ such counsel in the litigation aforesaid, which was to be had with the Minnesota Mining Company -- to which evidence the plaintiff objected, and the court excluded the same -- to which the defendant excepted.

The bill of exceptions then stated sundry prayers offered by the defendant upon points which were covered by the decision of this Court in 18 How. and which it is not thought necessary to insert.

The defendant further requested the court to charge the jury that if, when said Williams conveyed to said Cooper the premises

Page 61 U. S. 469

in question, the said Minnesota Mining Company was in actual and open possession of said lands, claiming title thereto under their patent, the said conveyance was void in law against the said company and all claiming under them, which instructions the court refused to give, and to this ruling the defendant excepted.

Page 61 U. S. 480

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