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Wiswall v. Sam son.
the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury,“ that the receiver of the Court of Chancery, in the suits of Wisw all and others, being in possession of the property, under the order of the court, at the time of the marshal's sale, and notice thereof being give i at that sale, affected the purchase by Dargan and invalidatud his title, and in charging, on the contrary, that such possession and notice in no manner affected the marshal's sale, or the purchase under it.” Because,
1. The levy, under the judgments of C. S. Fowler & Co. and Crouch & Speed, invested neither the marshal with any title nor the Federal Court with any jurisdiction over the land, nor conld it divest any title, if the defendant Ticknor was in pos. session, unless followed by an actual sale by the marshal, and payment of the purchase-money by the purchaser. Forrest & Lyon v. Camp, 16 Ala. 647.
And then, not until the sale took place and the money was paid. The sale took place in July; the deed was made in August. 1 Rich. Eq. Rep. 340.
2. But Ticknor was not in possession. The Court of Chancery, by its receiver, was in possession on the 25th June previous; and held, not for Ticknor, but for Wiswall and the other parties claiming against Ticknor. 3 P. Wms. R. 379; 2 Story, Eq. ý 833. The Court of Chancery was not holding the property in safe custody, until the right should be determined between Wiswall on the one side, and Ticknor & Day on the other; for it had already determined the right in favor of Wiswall, and ordered a sale, and the proceeds to be applied to his judgment. Ticknor & Day v. Wiswall, 6 Ala. 178. Its jurisdiction was complete, and adverse to all third parties. 10 Paige, 43.
Where different courts have concurrent jurisdiction, that before which proceedings are first had, and whose jurisdiction first attaches, has authority. paramount to the others, and cannot be ousted by subsequent proceedings in those courts. The Court of Chancery took jurisdiction to decide upon the right and title to this land, when Wiswall filed his bill on the 7th February, 1843, and it continued its jurisdiction over it until it was sold under its decree. No jurisdiction as to the premises attached to the Federal Court before the sale to Dargan, if then.. Hagan v. Lucas, 10 Pet. 400; Smith v. McIver, 9. Wheat. 532; Corning v. White, 2 Paige, 567; The Robert Fulton, 1 Paine, 621.; P. & M. Bank v. Walker, “ Ala. 945; Parker v. Browning, 8 Paige, 389.
The counsel for the defendant in error thus noticed this point:
Wis wall v. Sampson.
We deny that the Court of Chancery could prevent the execution of the levy made by the marshal, by placing a receiver in possession. The Court of Chancery insists upon no such power.
The rule of chancery is stated in 7 Paige, 513. The headnotes are : “ When property is rightfully in the hands of a receiver, it is in the custody of the court, and cannot be disstrained upon for rent without permission of the court by whom the receiver was appointed; and any person who takes the property out of the possession of the receiver.without such permission, after he has notice of the character in which possession is holden, is guilty of a contempt.”
The same principles are applicable to any interference with the possession of a receiver, sequestrator, committee, or custodee, who holds the property as the officer of the Court of Chancery; as his possession is the possession of the court itself. Noe v. Gibson, 7 Paige, 513.
“ Where a receiver is in possession of real estate which is subject to the lien of a judgment, the sale of the premises by the sheriff, upon an execution on such judgment, does not disturb the possession of the receiver; and the sheriff cannot, therefore, be proceeded against for a contempt in making such a sale. But the purchaser cannot disturb the possession of the receiver, when he obtains his conveyance from the sheriff, without the permission of the court. 9 Paige, 373.
This subject is discussed at large in a late case before Lord Truro, reported in 3 Gordon & Macnaghten R. 104, from which we extract.
“I am of opinion, that it is not competent for any one to interfere with the possession of a receiver, or to disobey an injunction or any other order of the court, on the ground that such orders were improvidently made. Parties must take a proper course to question their validity; but while they exist they must be obeyed. I consider the rule to be of such importance to the interests and safety of the public, and to the due administration of justice, that it ought on all occasions to be inflexibly maintained. I do not see how the court can expect its officers to do their duty, if they do it under the peril of resistance, and of that resistance being justified on grounds tending to the impeachment of the order under which they are acting. In the present case, it would have been perfectly open to the plaintiffs in the exccution to have applied to this court, to be heard pro interesse suo, or to have been heard on a summary application for leave to levy under their execution, notwithstanding the posssesion of the receiver. There is no instance in which justice may not be readily obtained by persons who are supposed to have their
Wiswall v. Sampson.
rights interfered with by an order or process issued by this court. Thus, I find, in one case, where a party wished to distrain for rent on property in the possession of a receiver, that the court, being satisfied that the legal right of distress was paramount to the title of the party for whose benefit the receiver was appointed, allowed the distress to be made. In another case, where property liable to distress had been sold, and the receiver had received the proceeds and paid them into court, the landlord having claimed a right to distrain while the receiver was in possession, this court ordered the receiver to pay out of those proceeds, to the landlord, the rents that were due to him, the receiver being in possession for the benefit of the tenant for life, who was liable for the payment of that rent which was so sought to be distrained for on the property in the possession of the receiver. I apprehend, then, it may be taken as a rule that, though this court may havo issued a process, or have made an order which may interfere with the supposed rights and interests of other parties, not parties to the cause, it is always competent for such parties to make an application to the court for relief; and it is not to be presumed or doubted, but that justice will be duly administered to them on that application."
Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.
This is a writ of error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Alabama.
The suit in the court below was an action of ejectment against Wiswall to recover the possession of a lot of land situated in the city of Mobile.
The lessors of the plaintiff gave in evidence two judgments against John Ticknor - one in favor of Fowler & Co. for $4,491, rendered 28th December, 1840—the other in favor of Crouch & Sneed for $7,167.25, rendered 31st December of the same year, each of them in the Circuit Court of the United States. Exe. cutions were issued upon each of the judgments within the year, and returned by the marshal “no property found.”
An alias fi. fa. was issued on the judgment in favor of Crouch & Sneed on the 24th February, 1815, and the lot in question levied on; an alias fi. fa. was also issued on the judgment in favor of Fowler & Co. on the 7th April, 1845, and a levy made on the same; and on the 7th July the lot was sold on both executions, and bid off by Dargan, one of the lessors of the plaintiff, for the sum of $7,500, and a deed executed to him by the marshal on the 13th August of the same year. Dargan quitclaimed the premises to Hall, the other lessor.' The lessors of the plaintiff claim title under this sale.
Wiswall v. Sampson.
The defendant, Wiswall, gave in evidence a judgment in his favor against Ticknor in the Circuit Court of the State for $2,233.17, rendered 14th June, 1842; an execution issued 1st July of the same year, which was returned by the sheriff“ no property found;" also a deed of the lot in question from Ticknor to one James L. Day, bearing date 28 April, 1840; and the exemplifi.cation of a decree and the proceedings in chancery on a bi" filed 7th February, 1843, by Wiswall against Ticknor and Day, setting aside the deed to Day as fraudulent and void against creditors. The decree was rendered April term, 1845. Also the appointment of a receiver by the court, to whom possession of the property was delivered on the 27th June of the same year. The receiver remained in the possession till the lot was sold by the master, 1st March, 1847, under the decree in chancery, and was purchased in for the defendant Wiswall for the sum of $6,500.
The defendant claims under this title.
Notice was given, on the day of sale, by the marshal, under the two judgments, of the pendency of this suit in chancery, and of the appointment of a receiver, and that he was in the possession of the property.
It appeared, also, that the lot was bid off by Dargan at the marshal's sale, by an arrangement between the attorneys representing the two judgments, Dargan being the attorney for the one in favor of Crouch & Sneed, that if the title thus acquireu should enable him to recover the property, the judgment in favor of Fowler & Co. should be paid out of it; but, if he should fail to recover it, then the sale was to be considered a nullity, and no money was to be paid.
It further appeared, that an application had been made by the attorney in the judgment in favor of Fowler & Co. to the court to amend the marshal's return so 23 to set forth the fact that no money had been paid, and that the motion was then pending in court And further, that a bill had been filed in chancery by the assignee in bankruptcy of the judgment of Fowler & Co. against the defendant and others, to have the proceeds of the sale of the property on the decree applied to the payment of that judgment, and in which bill it is insisted that the sale urder the two judgments was inoperative, on account of the agreement between the attorneys under whom it was made, and that this suit was then pending:
It further appeared, that Dargan applied to the Court of Chancery on the 26th November, 1815, by petition, setting out his title under the two judgments to have the possession of the lot by the receiver delivered up to him, or if that should not be ordered, then that he might be at liberty to bring an action of electment against the receiver to recover the same.
Wiswall v. Sampson.
That the defendant Wiswall put in his answer, setting up the same matters now relied on to invalidate the sale to Dargan, and also claiming a paramount lien upon the property by virtue of his judgment, and bill in chancery and decree setting aside the fraudulent conveyance to Day, directing a sale and application of the proceeds to the payment of his judgment, the appointment of a receiver, &c.
That the chancellor overruled the application, and dismissed the petition on the 10th December, 1845. From which order an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, and the decree or order affirmed.
After the.evidence was closed, the court charged the jury, that the title of Dargan under the marshal's sale upon the two judg. ments was superior to that of the defendant under the sale upon the decree in chancery, and directed a verdict for the plaintiff. And further, that the decree in chancery on the petition of Dargan was not conclusive upon the rights of the parties that he was not bound to go into that court for relief, as his remedy was at law.
The case is now before us on exceptions to this charge.
It was made a question, on the argument, whether or not the lien of the judgments, under which the marshal's sale took place, had not been postponed to that of Wiswall, on account of laches in the enforcement of them by execution. But in the view we have taken of the case, the validity of the liens, at the time of sale, will be conceded, without, however, intending to express any opinion upon the question.
Wiswall filed his bill in chancery against Ticknor and Day to set aside the fraudulent conveyance to the latter, and have the property applied to the satisfaction of his judgment, on the 7th February, 1813. In that bill he prayed for a sale of the real estate, and for the appointment of a teceiver to take charge of it with other assets of the judgment debtor; and, also, for an injunction. A temporary injunction was granted. On the coming in of the answers of the defendants, the complainant, on the 11th April of the same year, moved for the appointment of a receiver, and the defendants, at the same time, moved to dissolve the injunction. The court denied the motion to appoint the receiver, and dissolved the injunction, expressing the opinion that the answers so far explained the circumstances under which the deed to Day was given, as to remove the charge of fraud against it. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, and, on the 10th April, 1814, that court reversed the order of the court below, and remanded the cause for further proceedings : and on the 15th April, 1845, the Chancellor made a decree, that the deed was fraudulent and void, as against the complainant, and re