SANDUSKY V. NATIONAL BANK, 90 U. S. 289 (1874)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sandusky v. National Bank, 90 U.S. 23 Wall. 289 289 (1874)

Sandusky v. National Bank

90 U.S. (23 Wall.) 289


A petition addressed to the district court "in bankruptcy sitting" by a person who has been decreed an involuntary bankrupt,

"for a review of the record of the said proceedings in bankruptcy, and that the decree declaring the petitioner a bankrupt be set aside and vacated, and the petition of the petitioning creditor be dismissed and the petitioner's estate be restored to him, and for such other and further relief in the premises as may be equitable and just"

-- the orders and notices and every proceeding in the matter being entitled as in the original proceeding "in bankruptcy" -- is but a petition filed in the original proceedings in bankruptcy, and is not a bill in equity to impeach the adjudication for fraud. It cannot be separated from the original proceedings and taken into the circuit court by appeal as a case in equity under the eighth section of the Bankrupt Act. If any action by the circuit court is wanted by the person decreed a bankrupt, he must obtain it under the second section of the Bankrupt Act, which gives a general supervisory jurisdiction to that court over the proceedings of the district court except where special provision is otherwise made. No special provision is made in such a case for review by the circuit court. From any decision by the circuit court, acting in its general supervisory jurisdiction conferred by the second section, no appeal or writ of error lies to this Court.

By the Bankrupt Act, it is thus in effect enacted:

"SECTION 1. That the several district courts be . . . courts

Page 90 U. S. 290

of bankruptcy, and shall have original jurisdiction in their respective districts in all matters and proceedings in bankruptcy. . . . And the jurisdiction shall extend to all cases and controversies arising between the bankrupt and any creditor who shall claim any debt or demand under the bankruptcy"


"SECTION 2. That the several circuit courts . . . within and for the districts where the proceedings in bankruptcy shall be pending shall have a general superintendence and jurisdiction of all cases and questions arising under this act, and except where special provision is otherwise made, may, upon bill, petition, or other proper process, of any party aggrieved, hear and determine the case [as] a court of equity."

"SECTION 8. That appeals may be taken from the District to the circuit courts in all cases in equity,"


In this state of statutory law, the First National Bank of Indianapolis, on the 25th of August, 1871, filed a petition in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Illinois to have Harvey Sandusky adjudged a bankrupt. Sandusky appeared on the 5th September and, denying the allegations against him in the petition, demanded a trial by jury. This demand was afterwards withdrawn by his attorney and, on the 30th January, 1872, he was in due form adjudged by the court a bankrupt. Afterwards an assignee, one J. G. English, was chosen and qualified, who proceeded with the settlement of the estate.

On the 9th December, 1873, Sandusky served upon the bank a notice, entitling it "In the matter of the petition of the First National Bank of Indianapolis v. Harvey Sandusky, in bankruptcy," and giving to the bank notice that

"on the 10th of December, 1873, at 10 o'clock A.M., before the Honorable S. H. Treat, judge of the said court, at chambers, he, said Harvey Sandusky, would move the court for leave to file his petition in the above-entitled cause, for a review of the proceedings in the said cause, and to vacate the decree of bankruptcy therein, and for other relief, which petition"

the notice stated that "the said Sandusky had on that day placed in the hands and in the office of the clerk of said court for the examination of the bank and of its attorneys."

Page 90 U. S. 291

On the 10th December, an entry was made in the cause reciting that on that day, before the Honorable S. H. Treat, judge,

"In the matter of Harvey Sandusky, bankrupt, in bankruptcy, came the said Harvey, by his counsel, and the petitioning creditor, The First National Bank of Indianapolis, and J. G. English, the assignee, by their counsel, and that on motion of the said Harvey leave was given him to file his petition herein, which was accordingly done; and that on his further motion it was ordered by the court that the said First National Bank of Indianapolis and J. G. English file their answers to said petition on or before the first Monday of January next."

The petition was addressed to the court "in bankruptcy sitting," and prayed

"for a review of the record of the said proceedings in bankruptcy; that the decree declaring the petitioner a bankrupt be set aside and vacated, and the amended and original petition of the said bank be dismissed, and that the petitioner's estate be restored to him; and for such other and further relief in the premises as may be equitable and just."

No defendants were named in the petition, and there was no prayer for process.

An answer was filed by the bank, and also by G. W. Parker, who acted as the agent of the bank in the original proceedings. The assignee did not answer. Testimony was taken, and on the 12th June, 1874, after full hearing, the petition was dismissed. Sandusky then prayed an appeal to the circuit court, which was allowed, and on 25th June that court affirmed the judgment of the district court. He then appealed to this Court. It was this appeal which it was now moved to dismiss for want of jurisdiction.

Page 90 U. S. 292

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