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Brig Little Ann.

of the United States. The powers of the district Courts are defined by the 9th section of this law. They have, among other powers, "exclusive original cognizance of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, including all seizures under laws of impost, navigation, or trade of the United States, where the seizures are made on waters which are navigable from the sea by vessels of ten or more tons burthen, within their respective districts as well as upon the high seas. They have also exclusive original cognizance of all seizures on land, or other waters than as aforesaid made, and of all suits for penalties and forfeitures incurred under the laws of the United States."

The appellants contend that to confer jurisdiction in a case of seizure of this kind, it must be made within the judicial district in which the Court taking cognizance of it is held. This construction is not only the most obvious and natural, but is in conformity with the spirit which appears to pervade the whole judicial system of the United States. It should therefore prevail, unless controlled by other very explicit and unequivocal provisions of the judiciary act. It was certainly fit and desirable thus to limit the jurisdiction of the district Court, in order to prevent the oppression, expense, and delay, which would be inevitable, if the party seizing were at liberty to carry the property to any part of the United States, however remote, to which caprice, or a less pardonable motive might prompt him; and it is only on the appellant's interpretation that this salutary end will not be defeated. But as it is often unsafe to construe an act by what may be deemed its spirit, about which different opinions may be entertained, the Court thinks proper to add, that it does not perceive that any other fair meaning can be assigned to the letter of the one now under consideration. The terms used not only vest cognizance in all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, but also in all cases of seizures made as above-men

Brig Little Ann.

tioned. The term including, which has been so much and so ingeniously relied on, as only classing such seizures with civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, while it admits and has received from the Supreme Court that signification, is not necessarily to be taken in that sense alone. It not only thus classes these seizures, and thereby shuts out a trial by jury, but it has also an accumulative meaning, and extends the jurisdiction of these Courts to cases of such seizures. If it had only given to these Courts the cognizance of civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, prosecutions for forfeitures would not have been comprehended in such grant, which ex vi termini is confined to causes arising ex contractu, or to controversies between individuals, where the proceedings are in rem, such as suits or libels for seamen's wages, or bottomry bonds and the like.

But the clause extending its cognizance to all suits for penalties and forfeitures is supposed to be so comprehensive as to leave no doubt of the jurisdiction which has been exercised in this case. If there had been no previous designation of the powers of these Courts in relation to forfeitures under the laws of the United States, the interpretation put on this part of the act would not be so violent. But as in the construction of a particular section of the law, every part of it should be brought into view, the Court cannot, without overlooking and annulling some of the most valuable provisions of this act, accede to the correctness of this opinion. After the enumeration which had already been made of the various branches of jurisdiction allotted to these Courts, it is not thought that the suits here spoken of apply at all to prosecutions in rem in case of seizure, which had been distinctly and previously provided for, but solely to personal suits for penalties of bonds, or for pecuniary penalties and forfeitures attaching on the violation. of some law, which may well be deemed transitory, and to follow the person. Suit is defined to be "the following of a

Brig Little Ann.

person," and is not only not technically, but not even in common parlance applied to seizures or proceedings in rem. It would be, to say the least, a form of speech liable to considerable criticism, to speak of a suit's being brought against a vessel, or a bale of goods. A person is sued, but things are libelled. If then jurisdiction in case of a seizure, such as that of the Little Ann, be not drawn from that part of the first clause which has been cited from the 9th section of the judiciary act, which is comprehended under the word including, it is not easy to say whence it comes, or how it could have been supported in this case, even if the seizure had taken place within this district; for without this provision a proceeding like the present could not have been considered as a civil cause of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and would therefore have been a casus omissus, unless it could have been comprised under the general jurisdiction of suits for penalties and forfeitures, which could not have been done without giving to these expressions a meaning which perhaps was never before annexed to them, and which therefore was probably not in the contemplation of the legislature.

But if there be room for serious doubt, the understanding of a law should be such as is most reasonable, and which in practice will work the smallest mischief. This in the present case will be attained by confining the jurisdiction of the District Courts in cases of seizures, to such as are made within their respective districts, unless they take place on the high seas, which being within no particular district, may generally without much inconvenience be acted on in one Court as well as in another.

This Court therefore thinks that the District Court erred in holding jurisdiction of this cause, and that its sentence must for that reason be reversed.




Hon. BROCKHOLST LIVINGSTON, Associate Justice of the Su preme Court.

Hon. WILLIAM P. VAN NESS, District Judge.


The Circuit Courts are not inferior in the technical sense of the books, but are so only as subordinate to the Supreme Court.

cial and limited.

But their jurisdiction is spe

If jurisdiction of "cases arising under the laws of the United States" be not conferred on the Circuit Courts by an act of Congress, they cannot take cognizance of them.

And where Congress have given an action at law in the Circuit Courts in certain cases, they do not thereby acquire jurisdiction so as to entertain in those cases a bill in equity not relating to an action at law.

But, whether, if it should become necessary in an action at law in the Circuit Courts to appeal to their equity side in aid or defence of such action, those Courts would have the necessary equity powers. Query.

A bill filed to restrain the infringement of a patent, where both parties were citizens of the same state dismissed, and an injunction refused-Congress having confined the remedy for a breach of patent rights to an action at law, and the judiciary acts not giving the Court jurisdiction in equity, except in cases between citizens of different states.

LIVINGSTON, J. THE complainants by their bill appear to be proprietors of boats on the Hudson river, propelled by steam, and claim a right to the exclusive navigation of the waters of New-York in that way, in virtue of two patents from the United States, and several laws passed by this state.

Livingston v. Van Ingen.

The defendants have built and are using a steam boat on the same river for carrying passengers, and are building another for the same purpose, in violation, as it is alleged, of their rights under these patents and laws.

The bill prays that the complainants may be quieted in the possession and enjoyment of these rights; that the defendants may be restrained by injunction from constructing or using these boats on the waters of the state of New York; and that the rights of the complainants under their patents and the laws of the state may be established.

All the parties are citizens of the state of New York, and no action has been brought at law to try the title of the complainants.

On the filing of this bill a motion has been made to a Judge at his chambers for an injunction to restrain the defendants from the employment of their boat.

The argument has been conducted with all the ability which might naturally be expected from the gentlemen concerned, and the importance and novelty of the case.

The application is resisted on two grounds. The defendants contend, 1. That a Circuit Court of the United States, as a Court of Equity, between citizens of the same state, has no jurisdiction of this cause. 2. That if it had, this is not a case proper for its interposition in this way.

It will not be denied that the awarding of a writ of injunction of this nature is one of the highest and most important functions which a Court of Equity can be called upon to exercise. The Court is asked to inhibit a party from the full use and enjoyment of his property without any previous trial whatever-when that property is of a perishable nature, and must have been built at a very great expense, and when, if employed, it cannot fail of producing great gains, for the loss of which, however serious or extensive, the owners, if eventually successful in the controversy, will have no remedy

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