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U.S. Supreme Court

United States for Use of Crawford v. Addison, 73 U.S. 6 Wall. 291 291 (1867)

United States for Use of Crawford v. Addison

73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 291


1. C., being already duly in office as mayor under a charter which prescribed that a mayor in office should "continue in office two years, and until a successor is duly elected," was returned by the judges of election as again elected. Upon the counting of the votes cast for the different candidates, the city councils (who had a power to elect where the candidates had an equal number of votes) declared that one A., a rival candidate, was elected, and A. was accordingly installed into office. In a proceeding by quo warranto, taken by the United States on the relation of C., judgment of ouster was rendered against A. Held that C. thereupon became entitled to the office either by virtue of the declaration of the judges who had returned him elected or by virtue of that provision of the charter which enacted that the mayor shall hold over until his successor was elected.

Page 73 U. S. 292

2. Where an intruder, ousted by judgment on quo warranto from an office having a fixed salary and of personal confidence, as distinguished from one ministerial, takes a writ of error, giving a bond to prosecute the same with effect and to answer all costs and damages if he shall fail to make his plea good -- thus, by the force of a supersedeas remaining in office and enjoying its salary -- does not prosecute his writ with effect and is, after his failure to do so, sued on his bond by the party who had the judgment of ouster in his favor -- the measure of damages is the salary received by the intruding party during the pendency of the writ of error and consequent operation of the supersedeas.

3. The rule which measures damages upon a breach of contract for wages or for freight or for the lease of buildings where the party aggrieved must seek other employment, or other articles for carriage, or other tenants, and where the damages which he is entitled to recover is the difference between the amount stipulated and the amount actually received or paid, has no application to public offices of personal trust and confidence, the duties of which are not purely ministerial or clerical.

4. A special verdict not received by the court nor in any way made matter of record, and where, with the assent of the attorney of the party in whose favor it was given, the jury retired by the court's direction and considered further of their verdict, and returned another verdict upon which the judgment of ouster was entered is of no weight as evidence for any purpose.

The charter of Georgetown provides that on the fourth Monday of February in each two years, the citizens shall elect a mayor, "to continue in office two years and until a successor is duly elected." The person having the greatest number of votes is to be declared elected, and in the event of an equal number of votes being given to two or more candidates, two council boards of which the corporation is composed are to elect from the persons having such equal number.

With this charter in force, Crawford, being in 1859 mayor of the city and then duly in office, was in that year a candidate for reelection. His opposing candidate was one Addison. The electors having voted on the election day, the judges of election returned Crawford as the person elected. He accordingly presented himself to the city councils and offered to take the usual oath. They, however, on a count made by themselves of the vote, declared that Addison was

Page 73 U. S. 293

really elected. He, and not Crawford, was accordingly sworn into office and entered upon the duties of mayor. Crawford then proceeded by quo warranto in the federal court of the District to test Addison's right to the place, the proceeding being in the usual form of one by the United States at the relation of the party aggrieved -- in this instance, Crawford. On this proceeding the jury brought in a verdict that "the votes received by each candidate make the vote a tie." The court, with the assent of Addison's attorney, refused to receive the verdict, and having directed the jury to return to their room and again consider of their verdict, they brought in a new verdict, on which a judgment of ouster was given. To review this judgment Addison took a writ of error from this Court, giving a bond in $3,000. The bond, which was to "the United States of America," recited that the circuit court for the District in a suit of the United States at the relation of Crawford, had lately adjudged that Addison should not intermeddle with the office, privileges, franchises &c., of mayor, and that he

"be taken to satisfy the United States for his usurpation thereof, and that the said Crawford, relator, recover against Addison the sum of $_____ for his costs."

And it bound Addison and his sureties, to "prosecute the said writ of error with effect and to answer all damages and costs if he shall fail to make his plea good."

The writ of error having been held by the court of the District to be a supersedeas of the judgment of ouster, Crawford applied to this Court in 1859 for a mandamus on the circuit court to enforce it notwithstanding the writ of error. [Footnote 1] The arguments of his counsel in this Court were:

1st. That the matter in dispute being an office of personal confidence and trust, and not a thing capable of being bought, sold, or assigned, it was not a thing which had a "value" within the act, which gave this Court jurisdiction only when the matter in dispute was of the value of $1,000 or more, and hence that the writ ought to be dismissed.

2d. That the two years -- or term of office -- for which

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Crawford was elected would run out before the case brought up by the writ of error could be passed on.

The court, however, considered that, the office having a salary, the case did present a subject of "value," and that salary being $1,000, of the requisite value. As to the other matter, they said:

"The bond and security given on the writ of error cannot be regarded as an idle ceremony. It was designed as an indemnity to the defendant in error should the plaintiff fail to prosecute with effect his writ."

The mandamus was accordingly refused and the writ of error suffered to stand, Addison in the meantime enjoying the mayoralty.

In January, 1861, however, the writ of error was dismissed, and on the 21st of that month -- a large part of the term of office having at this time of course passed -- Crawford got that possession of the mayoralty from which the writ of error had till now deprived him. He now brought suit on the writ of error bond in the name of the United States against Addison, the purpose being to recover the amount ($1,104) received by Addison as salary from the date of the bond to the time when Crawford got the benefit of the judgment of ouster -- a term as it appeared of one year, one month, and seven days -- which he claimed as damages chargeable to the bond. The costs Addison had himself paid. The narr. alleged that Addison had prosecuted his writ of error with effect and that he did not answer all damages and costs, in that he had not paid Crawford, at whose relation the suit recited in the bond was brought, $1,000 a year for the year and more in which he Addison was enjoying the office, and which sum he, Crawford, would have had for his own use but for the suing out of the writ of error aforesaid.

On the trial, the plaintiff requested the court to instruct the jury as a second instruction that if they should find that during the time in which Addison acted as mayor he received the salary, and that he did not prosecute his writ of error with effect, then that the plaintiff was entitled to recover

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the amount so received, and interest on it -- provided they should also find that Crawford was duly elected and qualified as mayor and that he continued and was ready and willing to discharge his duties, and was only prevented from so doing by the interference of Addison and by his assuming to exercise the functions of the office.

The court refused to give such instruction, assigning as a reason, among others, for the refusal that there was no evidence in the case that the defendant by his interference had prevented the plaintiff from the exercise of the office.

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