The question to be determined is, whether a decree of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, restraining citizens of that commonwealth from the prosecution of attachment suits in New York, brought by them for the purpose of evading the laws of their domicil, should be reversed upon the ground that such judicial action in Massachusetts was in violation of Article 4, sections 1 and 2 of the Constitution of the United States, which read as follows:
"SEC. 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.
"SEC. 2. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States."
The act of May 26, 1790, 1 Stat. 122, now embodied in § 905 of the Revised Statutes, after providing the mode of authenticating the acts, records and judicial proceedings of the States, declares:
This does not prevent an inquiry into the jurisdiction of the court, in which a judgment is rendered, to pronounce the judgment, nor into the right of the State to exercise authority over the parties or the subject matter, nor whether the judgment is founded in, and impeachable for, a manifest fraud. The Constitution did not mean to confer any new power on the States, but simply to regulate the effect of their acknowledged jurisdiction over persons and things within their territory. It did not make the judgments of the States domestic judgments to all intents and purposes, but only gave a general validity, faith and credit to them as evidence. No execution can be issued upon such judgments without a new suit in the tribunals of other States, and they enjoy, not the right of priority or privilege or lien which they have in the State where they are pronounced, but that only which the lex fori gives to them by its own laws, in their character of foreign judgments. McElmoyle v. Cohen, 13 Pet. 312, 328, 329; D'Arcy v. Ketchum, 11 How. 165; Thompson v. Whitman, 18 Wall. 457; Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714; Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 292; Christmas v. Russell, 5 Wall. 290; Story, Constitution, §§ 1303 et seq.; and Story, Conflict of Laws, § 609. And other judicial proceedings can rest on no higher ground.
These well-settled principles find pertinent illustration in the decisions of the highest tribunal of the State of New York, to one of which we refer, as the contention is that the decree under review was in some way an unconstitutional invasion of the jurisdiction of that State.
In Dobson v. Pearce, 12 N.Y. (2 Kernan) 156, the plaintiff in a judgment, recovered in New York, brought an action upon it in the Superior Court of Connecticut, whereupon the defendant in the judgment filed a bill against the plaintiff on the equity side of the same court, alleging that the judgment
The Court of Appeals held that while a judgment rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction could not be impeached collaterally for error or irregularity, yet it could be attacked upon the ground of want of jurisdiction, or of fraud or imposition; that the right of the plaintiff in the judgment was a personal right, and followed his person; that when the courts of Connecticut obtained jurisdiction of his person by the due service of process within the State, these courts had full power to pronounce upon the rights of the parties in respect to the judgment, and to decree concerning it; that the jurisdiction of a court of equity anywhere, to restrain suit upon a judgment at law, upon sufficient grounds, was one of the firmly established parts of the authority of courts of equity; and that it could not be held that a court of equity in one State had no jurisdiction to restrain such a suit upon a judgment of a court of law of another State. If the objection to so doing was founded upon an assumed violation of the comity existing between the several States of the United States, that did not reach to the jurisdiction of the court, a rule of comity being a self-imposed restraint upon an authority actually possessed; and as to the objection that the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance of it inhibited the action of the Connecticut courts, this could not prevail, since full faith and credit are given to the judgment of a state court, when in the courts of another State it receives the same faith and credit to which it was entitled in the State where it was pronounced. Pearce v. Olney, 20 Connecticut, 544; Engel v. Scheuerman, 40 Georgia, 206; Cage v. Cassidy, 23 How. 109.
The intention of section 2 of Article 4 was to confer on the
Discharges under state insolvent laws exemplify the principle. Where the effect of the insolvent law is to relieve the debtor from liability on his contracts, such discharge, if the creditor and debtor have a common domicil, or the creditor, though non-resident, has voluntarily become a party to the proceedings, avails the defendant in all courts and places.
It was decided in Sturges v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 122, that state legislatures have authority to pass a bankrupt or insolvent law, provided there be no act of Congress in force establishing a uniform system of bankruptcy, conflicting with such laws; and provided the law itself be so framed that it does not impair the obligation of contracts. Eight years later, in Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 213, the court held that the power of Congress to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States did not exclude the right of the States to legislate on the same subject, except when the power had actually been exercised by Congress, and the state laws conflicted with those of Congress; that a bankrupt or insolvent law of any State which discharged both the person of the debtor and his future acquisitions of property was not a law impairing the obligation of contracts, so far as respected debts contracted subsequent to the passage of the law; that a certificate of discharge under such law
In New York an attachment is obtained on application to a judge of the Supreme Court, or a county judge, affidavit being made as to the validity of the claim and the grounds of the attachment, and a bond furnished with sufficient sureties. The judge in his discretion makes an order that a warrant of attachment be granted. The warrant is directed to the sheriff, and is subscribed by the judge, and requires the sheriff to attach and safely keep so much of the property as will satisfy the plaintiff's demand, with costs and expenses. This is served by the sheriff taking the property into his actual custody, or, in the case of a demand trusteed, by leaving a copy with the trustee or garnishee. The sheriff, under the direction of the court, must collect any debt or chose in action attached by him, and, if necessary, may bring an action in his own name, or in
An attachment is in the nature of, but not, strictly speaking, a proceeding in rem, since that only is a proceeding in rem in which the process is to be served on the thing itself. If, in an attachment suit "the defendant appears, the cause becomes mainly a suit in personam, with the added incident, that the property attached remains liable, under the control of the court, to answer any demand which may be established against the defendant by the final judgment of the court. But, if there is no appearance of the defendant, and no service of process on him, the case becomes, in its essential nature, a proceeding in rem, the only effect of which is to subject the property attached to the payment of the demand which the court may find to be due to the plaintiff." Cooper v. Reynolds, 10 Wall. 308, 318. The lien is inchoate, and the property attached held to await the result of the suit. If a judgment for the plaintiff is obtained, the lien becomes perfected and the property is applied to satisfy the judgment. If plaintiff fails in his action, the lien falls with it. And he may so fail by reason of the discharge of the defendant in insolvency, when he is a citizen of the same State, or has made himself a party to the proceedings in insolvency, or by the action of other courts of the State where the suit is pending, or elsewhere, if jurisdiction in personam be obtained. So that, after all, the inquiry is, whether, in a proper case, the equity courts of one State can control persons within their jurisdiction from the prosecution of suits in another. If they can, in accordance with the principles of equity jurisprudence and practice, no reason is perceived for contending that the Constitution of the United States prescribes any different rule. And the determination of what is a proper case for equity interposition would seem to be reposed in the court whose authority is invoked, though some remarks in that regard may not improperly be made.
The jurisdiction of the English Court of Chancery to restrain persons within its territorial limits and under its jurisdiction from doing anything abroad, whether the thing forbidden be
In Penn v. Lord Baltimore, 1 Ves. Sen. 444, Lord Hardwicke recognized the principle that equity, as it acts primarily in personam and not merely in rem, may, where a person against whom relief is sought is within the jurisdiction, make a decree, upon the ground of a contract, or any equity subsisting between the parties, respecting property situated out of the jurisdiction. 2 Lead. Cas. in Eq., (4th American edition,) 1806, and cases.
In McIntosh v. Oglivie, 4 T.R. 193, n.; S.C. 3 Swanston, 365, n.; S.C. 1 Dick. Ch. 119; Lord Hardwicke lays down the same doctrine as to restraining prosecution of suit. This case bears so close an analogy to that at bar that we give it in full, as follows, as reported in 4 T.R.:
"The plaintiff was the assignee of a bankrupt, the defendant a creditor, who before the bankruptcy went into Scotland and made arrestments on debts due to the bankrupt from persons there. Upon an affidavit of the defendant's having got this money into his hands, a ne exeat was granted; and a motion was now made on the behalf of the defendant to discharge it, upon a supposition that he had a right to the goods as creditor by his arrestments.
"The Lord Chancellor asked whether he had sentence before the bankruptcy; and, being answered in the negative, he said, `Then it is like a foreign attachment, by which this court will not suffer a creditor to gain priority, if no sentence were pronounced before the bankruptcy. I cannot grant a prohibition to the Court of Sessions; but I will certainly make an order on the party here to restrain him from getting a priority, and evading the laws of bankruptcy here. If the gentleman were not going abroad, I would do nothing; but as he is, I will not discharge the writ without his giving security to abide the event of the cause.'"
Penn v. Lord Baltimore is cited with approval by Chief Justice Marshall in Massie v. Watts, 6 Cranch, 148, where a suit was instituted in the Circuit Court of Kentucky to compel the conveyance by the defendant of the legal title of land
And in Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 723, it is said in the opinion of the court by Mr. Justice Field: "The State, through its tribunals, may compel persons domiciled within its limits to execute, in pursuance of their contracts respecting property elsewhere situated, instruments in such form and with such solemnities as to transfer the title, so far as such formalities can be complied with; and the exercise of this jurisdiction in no manner interferes with the supreme control over the property by the State within which it is situated. Penn v. Lord Baltimore, 1 Ves. Sen. 444; Massie v. Watts, 6 Cranch, 148; Watkins v. Holman, 16 Pet. 25; Corbett v. Nutt, 10 Wall. 464."
In Lord Portarlington v. Soulby, 3 Mylne & K. 104, 106, Lord Chancellor Brougham reviews the history of the jurisdiction to restrain parties from commencing or prosecuting actions in foreign countries, and concludes: "Nothing can be more unfounded than the doubts of the jurisdiction. That is grounded, like all other jurisdiction of the court, not upon any pretension to the exercise of judicial and administrative rights abroad, but on the circumstance of the person of the party, on whom this order is made, being within the power of the court." Earl of Oxford's Case, 1 Ch. Rep. 1; S.C. 2 Lead. Cas. in Eq. 1316.
Mr. Justice Story states the principle thus:
"But, although the courts of one country have no authority to stay proceedings in the courts of another, they have an undoubted authority to control all persons and things within their own territorial limits. When, therefore, both parties to a suit in a foreign country are resident within the territorial
In Phelps v. McDonald, 99 U.S. 298, 308, Mr. Justice Swayne uses this language:
"Where the necessary parties are before a court of equity, it is immaterial that the res of the controversy, whether it be real or personal property, is beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the tribunal. It has the power to compel the defendant to do all things necessary, according to the lex loci rei sitœ, which he could do voluntarily, to give full effect to the decree against him. Without regard to the situation of the subject matter, such courts consider the equities between the parties, and decree in personam according to those equities, and enforce obedience to their decrees by process in personam."
Such is undoubtedly the result of the clear weight of authority, and the rule has been often applied by the courts of the domicil against the attempts of some of its citizens to defeat the operation of its laws to the wrong and injury of others.
Thus it was held by the Supreme Court of Ohio in Snook v. Snetzer, 25 Ohio St. 516, that where the statutes of that State exempted the earnings for personal service of a debtor, who was the head of a family and a citizen of the State, the
To the same effect is Keyser v. Rice, 47 Maryland, 203. The Court of Appeals of Maryland declared the power of the State to compel its own citizens to respect its laws, even beyond its own territorial limits, to be supported by the great preponderance of precedent and authority; and sustained an injunction to restrain the further prosecution in another State of an attachment, by which the defendant sought to recover wages due the complainant in Maryland and there exempt from attachment.
So in Burlington and Missouri Railroad v. Thompson, 31 Kansas, 180, though it was held that a foreign corporation doing business in Kansas might be garnisheed for a debt due to a non-resident employe, contracted outside of the State, and exempt from garnishment in the State where the defendant and garnishee resided, yet it was conceded by Judge Brewer, in delivering the opinion, "that in the courts of a State any citizen of that State may be enjoined from resorting to the courts of any other State for the purpose of evading the exemption laws of his own State;" and this was so decided in Zimmerman v. Franke, 34 Kansas, 650.
In Wilson v. Joseph, 107 Indiana, 490, the Supreme Court of Indiana ruled that an injunction would lie to restrain a resident of Indiana from prosecuting an attachment proceeding against another resident in the courts of another State, in violation of a statute which made it an offence to send a claim against a debtor out of the State for collection, in order to evade the exemption law. And see Chaffee v. Quidnick Company, 13 R.I. 442, 449; Great Falls Manufacturing Co. v. Worster, 23 N.H. (3 Foster) 462; Pickett v. Ferguson, 45 Arkansas, 177.
The rule is not otherwise in New York. It is true that in Mead v. Merritt, 2 Paige, 402, 404, the chancellor said: "I am not aware that any court of equity in the Union has deliberately decided that it will exercise the power, by process of injunction,
In Vail v. Knapp, 49 Barb. 299, 305, an injunction was continued against citizens of New York, plaintiffs in attachment suits in Vermont, upon the ground that they were proceeding in Vermont in evasion of the laws of New York; and the court points out that, though as a general rule the courts of New York decline to interfere by injunction to restrain its citizens from proceeding in an action which has been commenced in a sister State, citing Mead v. Merritt, 2 Paige, 402; Burgess v. Smith, 2 Barb. Ch. 276, and other cases, yet "there are exceptions to this rule, and when a case is presented, fairly constituting such exception, extreme delicacy should not deter the court from controlling the conduct of a party within its jurisdiction to prevent oppression or fraud. No rule of comity or policy forbids it."
The same result was announced in Dinsmore v. Neresheimer, 32 Hun, 204, where the Supreme Court of New York held that an express company could maintain an action in New York to restrain the defendant, a resident of the State of New York, from prosecuting actions against the company in the District of Columbia, brought to avoid a decision of the Court of Appeals of New York, differing from the rule upon the same subject in the District of Columbia.
In Erie Railway Co. v. Ramsey, 45 N.Y. 637, the Court of Appeals, speaking through Folger, J., treats the general question as not admitting of doubt.
Nothing can be plainer, than that the act of Butler, Hayden & Co. in causing the property of the insolvent debtors to be attached in a foreign jurisdiction, tended directly to defeat the operation of the insolvent law in its most essential features, and it is not easy to understand why such acts could not be restrained, within the practice to which we have referred.
But for the attachment suits the assignees in insolvency could have collected the claim of Bird against Claflin & Co., but could not have intervened in those suits and asked of the courts of New York the enforcement of their title. The rule in that State is, that by the comity of nations, the statutory title of foreign assignees in bankruptcy is recognized and enforced when it can be done without injustice to the citizens of the State, and without prejudice to creditors pursuing their remedies
Under such a rule it is evident that the remedy of the assignees was in equity and in the courts of their domicil.
This is the conclusion reached in Kidder v. Tufts, 48 N.H. 121, 126, referred to by counsel for appellant. That was a case where citizens of Massachusetts commenced in New Hampshire an attachment against certain other citizens of the former State; proceedings in insolvency against the defendants were afterwards instituted in Massachusetts; and, subsequently to this, certain New Hampshire creditors attached the same property and then moved for a continuance to await the proceedings in insolvency, for the purpose of pleading the insolvent's discharge in bar of the first attachment. But the court denied the motion, holding that the Massachusetts creditors had availed themselves of their strict legal rights as established and allowed by the statute law of New Hampshire, and, for the purpose of an attachment, might properly be considered subjects of that state government; but the court added: "If the subsequent attaching creditors have a remedy, and can in any way prevent the plaintiffs from obtaining a preference, their appeal should be made, as creditors of the defendants, to the Massachusetts courts, which may exercise their jurisdiction over their own citizens if they have violated any of their laws by their experiment here." Hibernia Nat. Bank v. Lacombe, 84 N.Y. 367, 386.
So in the case of Paine v. Lester, 44 Connecticut, 196, where a citizen of Rhode Island attached in Connecticut a debt due from a citizen of Connecticut to a corporation of Pennsylvania, which had made an assignment for the benefit of creditors, the lien of the attachment was held valid against the claim of the trustee in the assignment, because the right of the trustee in insolvency in Connecticut rested only on the comity which the court there could exercise or refuse to exercise at its discretion, while the plaintiff had a legal right, under the laws of Connecticut, to prosecute his suit.
Dehon v. Foster, 4 Allen, 545, is the leading case upon the subject, argued by eminent counsel on both sides, and decided upon great consideration. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, speaking through Bigelow, C.J., points out that the jurisdiction of a court, as a court of chancery, to restrain persons within its jurisdiction from prosecuting suits, upon a proper case made, either in the courts of Massachusetts or in other States or foreign countries, rests on the clear authority vested in courts of equity over persons within the limits of their jurisdiction and amenable to process, to stay acts contrary to equity and good conscience; and that, as the decree of the court in such cases is directed solely at the party, it is wholly immaterial that such party is prosecuting his action in the courts of another state or country.
The action was a bill in equity to enjoin a citizen of Massachusetts from availing himself of an attachment of personal property in Pennsylvania, as against a debtor put into insolvency under the laws of Massachusetts, and thus preventing the same from coming to the hands of the assignee. The court held that it was obvious that the controversy was simply as to the relative rights of citizens of Massachusetts to personal property belonging to insolvent debtors, domiciled in that state, and raised no question involving a conflict of rights
"Looking then at our own laws," said the court, "to ascertain which of the two parties to this suit has a paramount right or superior equity to the debts due to the insolvents from persons residing out of the state, there would seem to be but little, if any, room open for doubt or controversy." The fundamental principle of the insolvent laws of the commonwealth, that all the property of the debtor should be taken and equally distributed among his creditors, was remarked on, and the provisions of the statute intended to secure that end recapitulated. The inevitable conclusion was announced that, as the act of the defendants in causing the property of the insolvent debtors to be attached in a foreign jurisdiction tended directly to defeat the operation of the law by preventing a portion of the property of the debtors from coming to their assignees to be equally distributed among their creditors, and giving a preference to certain of their debtors, so that they would obtain payment of their debt in full, it was, therefore, an attempt by those creditors, citizens of Massachusetts, to defeat the operation of their own laws, to the injury of other creditors of the insolvents. And the court proceeded: "This is manifestly contrary to equity. The defendants, being citizens of this state, are bound by its laws. They cannot be permitted to do any acts to evade or counteract their operation, the effect of which is to deprive other citizens of rights which those laws are intended to secure. Certain it is that they could not in any manner or by any process take from the assignees of an insolvent debtor property belonging to him within this state, and appropriate it to the payment of their debt in full. To prevent such appropriation, if the law furnished no adequate and complete remedy, this court would interfere by suitable process in equity. We are unable to see
To the argument that the bill could not be maintained, because the statutes of Massachusetts regulating the assignment and distribution of insolvent estates could have no extra-territorial effect or operation, the court answered that while it was true that the statutes of Massachusetts ex proprio vigore had no effect or operation in other states, it was also true that, by the comity of states and nations, the laws of one country are allowed to a certain extent to control the rights of persons and property in other countries, though not allowed to have any effect to the injury of the citizens of such other country. From this principle it followed as a necessary consequence, that personal property of a Massachusetts insolvent debtor, situated in Pennsylvania, would vest in the Massachusetts insolvent's assignees, with power to take possession of and collect it either in their own names or in the name of the insolvent, if they were not held or attached by virtue of a process or lien in favor of a creditor, which would be valid under the laws of Pennsylvania. Hence if the attachment in Pennsylvania were valid and binding, the Massachusetts creditors would obtain a right, superior to that conferred under the Massachusetts laws on the assignees in insolvency, by the act of such creditors, in defeat of the operation of the laws of their own state; so that a proceeding in equity might properly be resorted to to compel
Nor did the court regard the fact as controlling to the contrary, that the attachment was made prior to the institution of the proceedings in insolvency, because the attachment tended to contravene the clear intent of the statutes, which aim to vest in the assignee all the property of the debtor which could have been assigned by him, or taken on execution against him, at the time of the commencement of the insolvent proceedings, "although the same is then attached on mesne process as the property of the debtor;" and because, aside from that, it appeared that the defendants, when they instituted process in Pennsylvania, and made their attachment, knew that the debtors were insolvent, and had reason to believe that proceedings in insolvency were about to be instituted against them, and caused the attachment to be made with an intent to obtain a preference over other creditors, and to avoid the operation of the insolvent laws of the commonwealth. Under such circumstances, priority gave no equity to the defendants. The purpose to interfere with and prevent the proper distribution of the insolvent's estate took away all claim to equitable consideration which might exist when priority was obtained in good faith. The decree accordingly went enjoining the defendants from prosecuting their attachments.
The objection was urged that the effect of the restraint might be to enable all non-resident creditors to appropriate property by attachment to the payment of their debts, and thereby to gain a preference over attaching creditors residing in Massachusetts as well as to prevent the property from passing to the assignees. This was of course a matter to be considered by the court in arriving at a conclusion as to granting the relief prayed. It may be remarked, however, that while as between citizens of the State of the forum, and the assignee appointed under the laws of another State, the claim of the former will be held superior to that of the latter by the courts of the former, yet this has not been so ruled in many of the States, as between an assignee appointed in another State and citizens of other States than that of his appointment, and of
Whether the law of the common domicil of two or more litigants determines their title to property in another territory, so that an attaching creditor, whose domicil is the same as that of the assignor, cannot set up against an assignment the law of a foreign country where the property is actually situated, has been much discussed. It is certain that the law of the common domicil cannot overcome such registry and other positive laws of the other country as are distinctively politic and coercive. Wharton on Confl. Laws, §§ 369, 371. If a State provides that no title shall pass to property within its borders, except on certain conditions, such provision cannot be overridden by the law of any other State, which parties domiciled there may be held to have adopted. It was in this view that Mr. Justice Miller, referring to a voluntary conveyance, in Green v. Van Buskirk, 5 Wall. 307, 311, 312, said:
"There is no little conflict of authority on the general question as to how far the transfer of personal property by assignment or sale, made in the country of the domicil of the owner, will be held to be valid in the courts of the country where the property is situated, where these are in different sovereignties. The learned author of the Commentaries on the Conflict of Laws has discussed the subject with his usual exhaustive research. And it may be conceded that, as a question of comity, the weight of his authority is in favor of the proposition that such transfers will generally be respected
"But, after all, this is a mere principle of comity between the courts, which must give way when the statutes of the country where property is situated, or the established policy of its laws, prescribe to its courts a different rule."
Great contrariety of state decision exists upon this general topic, and it may be fairly stated that, as between citizens of the state of the forum, and the assignee appointed under the laws of another state, the claim of the former will be held superior to that of the latter by the courts of the former; while, as between the assignee and citizens of his own state and the state of the debtor, the laws of such state will ordinarily be applied in the state of the litigation, unless forbidden by, or inconsistent with, the laws or policy of the latter. Again, although, in some of the states, the fact that the assignee claims under a decree of a court or by virtue of the law of the state of the domicil of the debtor and the attaching creditor, and not under a conveyance by the insolvent, is regarded as immaterial; yet, in most, the distinction between involuntary transfers of property, such as work by operation of law, as foreign bankrupt and insolvent laws, and a voluntary conveyance, is recognized. The reason for the distinction is that a voluntary transfer, if valid where made, ought generally to be valid everywhere, being the exercise of the personal right of the owner to dispose of his own, while an assignment by operation of law has no legal operation out of the state in which the law was passed. This is a reason which applies to citizens of the actual situs of the property when that is elsewhere than at the domicil of the insolvent, and the controversy has chiefly been as to whether property so situated can pass even by a voluntary conveyance.
In Warner v. Jaffray, 96 N.Y. 248, the debtor, residing in New York, made a general assignment, for the benefit of creditors, to the plaintiff. He owned personal property situated in Pennsylvania, which was attached by New York creditors, having no actual notice of the assignment, before the assignment
In the case in hand, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts thought it proper to grant the injunction, since it was a case of the taking by the law of the insolvent's property for distribution among his creditors, who, so far as resident in the State of Massachusetts, were brought into relations with the assignee and with each other, which precluded them from enforcing their claim against the property of the assignor conveyed by the assignment, and rendered the effort to do so a violation of the rights and equities of the other creditors, and an absolute infraction of the law of their own domicil. Nor was there any law or policy of the State of New York contravened by the insolvent proceedings in question, or in itself inimical to the title of the assignees.
In Lawrence v. Batcheller, 131 Mass. 504, the defendant, Batcheller, a citizen of Massachusetts, had brought suits by attachment in other States against one Paige, also a citizen of Massachusetts, indebted to defendant, and in embarrassed circumstances, and garnisheed and ultimately collected various amounts due to Paige. Paige subsequently went into insolvency, and his assignees sued Batcheller at law to recover the money. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the assignees could not recover because, as the attachments were made prior to the time when the assignment in insolvency took
What has been said is in harmony with the rule announced in Green v. Van Buskirk, 5 Wall. 307; S.C. 7 Wall. 139. In that case, Bates, who lived in New York, executed and delivered to Van Buskirk, who lived in the same State, a chattel mortgage on certain iron safes which were then in the city of Chicago. Two days after this, Green, who was also a citizen of New York, being ignorant of the existence of the mortgage, sued out a writ of attachment in the courts of Illinois, levied on the safes, and subsequently had them sold in satisfaction of the judgment obtained in the attachment suit. There was no appearance or contest in this attachment suit, and Van Buskirk was not a party to it, although he could have made himself such party and contested the right of Green to levy on the safes, being expressly authorized by the laws of Illinois so to do. It was conceded that by the law of Illinois mortgages of personal property, until acknowledged and recorded, were void as against third persons. Subsequently Van Buskirk sued Green in New York for the value of the safes mortgaged to him by Bates, of which Green had thus received the proceeds. The courts of New York gave judgment in favor of Van Buskirk, holding that the law of New York was to govern and not the law of Illinois, although the property was situated in the latter State, and that the title passed to Van Buskirk by the execution of the mortgage. The cause was then brought to this court and first considered upon a motion to
"It should be borne in mind, in the discussion of this case, that the record in the attachment suit was not used as the foundation of an action, but for purposes of defence. Of course, Green could not sue Bates on it, because the court had no jurisdiction of his person; nor could it operate on any other property belonging to Bates than that which was attached. But as, by the law of Illinois, Bates was the owner of the iron safes when the writ of attachment was levied, and as Green could and did lawfully attach them to satisfy his debt in a court which had jurisdiction to render the judgment, and as the safes were lawfully sold to satisfy that judgment, it follows that when thus sold the right of property in them was changed, and the title to them became vested in the purchasers at the sale. And as the effect of the levy, judgment and sale is to protect Green if sued in the courts of Illinois, and these proceedings are produced for his own justification, it ought to require no argument to show that when sued in the court of another State for the same transaction, and he justifies in the same manner, that he is also protected. Any other rule would destroy all safety in derivative titles, and deny to a State the power to regulate the transfer of personal property within its limits, and to subject such property to legal proceedings." 7 Wall. 148.
It will be perceived that it was manifestly inadmissible to hold that after Van Buskirk had permitted Green to go to judgment in a proceeding in rem, which appropriated the property as belonging to Bates, he could then get judgment
In the case at bar, the attachment suits have not gone to judgment, and the assignees in insolvency have proceeded with due diligence as against these creditors, citizens of Massachusetts, who are seeking to evade the laws of their own State; nor is there anything in the law or policy of New York opposed to the law or policy of Massachusetts in the premises.
We find no infringement of the Constitution in the rendition of the decree, and it is accordingly
MR. JUSTICE MILLER, with whom concurred MR. JUSTICE FIELD and MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, dissenting.
I dissent from the judgment and opinion of the court in this case. I am of opinion that the proceedings in the state court of New York, whether they be considered as the bona fide action of Fayerweather for his own benefit, or as merely representing the interests of Butler, Hayden & Co., were efficient in establishing a lien on the indebtedness of Aaron Claflin & Co., of New York, which by the laws of that State was superior to any right then held, or which could be acquired afterwards by the assignees in insolvency of Daniel C. Bird.
Indeed, it is not questioned in the very learned opinion of the court in this case that if Butler, Hayden & Co. had been permitted to go on with their proceeding in New York, they
I do not deny the general principle that a party found within the jurisdiction of a court and subject to its process may be restrained and enjoined from doing certain things in some other jurisdiction because the thing which he might attempt to do is opposed to the principles of equity or to the law of the place where he is found. And such might be the law in this case, but for the provision of the Constitution of the United States and the act of Congress, both of which are recited in the opinion of the court, which require that the "records and judicial proceedings of a State authenticated as aforesaid shall have such faith and credit given to them in every court in the United States as they would have by law or usage in the courts of the State from whence such records are or shall be taken." The record introduced from the court of New York in this case had the effect in that State to give Butler, Hayden & Co. a lien on the indebtedness of Aaron Claflin & Co.; to their creditor, Bird, which in that court would have ripened into a judgment and been enforced. That was the faith and credit which the laws of New York gave to that proceeding. It initiated a right. It established a lien, and there was no power in the courts of Massachusetts to interrupt the course of these proceedings to the final result. That is to say, there was no power to do this directly. Had it the right to do it by seizing the persons of Butler, Hayden & Co. in Massachusetts, and compelling them there to forego the advantage which they had secured in the state courts of New York? When, therefore, Butler, Hayden & Co. were sued in equity in the courts of Massachusetts, and there was produced the record of these proceedings in the court of New York, the
If there was any error in proceedings in the court of New York, that error was subject to correction in due course of law in courts of justice of the State of New York, and Butler, Hayden & Co. had a right to insist on the validity of their proceedings being tested by the courts, and governed by the laws of the State of New York, and not by those of Massachusetts.
It is no answer to this to say that Butler, Hayden & Co. were citizens of Massachusetts and were found within its jurisdiction. The higher law of the Constitution of the United States places this restraint upon the courts of Massachusetts in dealing even with her own citizens, and if her citizens have obtained rights in the courts of New York which have become a part of the records and judicial proceedings of those courts, no matter how the law under which those rights are established may be opposed to the law of the State of Massachusetts, they are to be respected by the courts of Massachusetts because they are effectual over the parties and subject matter in New York, and because the Constitution of the United States and the act of Congress of May 26, 1790, assert the principle that the courts of Massachusetts must give full credit, by which is meant the same effect to the proceedings in New York which that State gives to them. The constitutional provision which makes this declaration is part of Article IV, and it is in immediate connection with its second section, which declares that "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." The meaning of this is to prevent conflicts between courts of the different States, over the same matters, by establishing the rule that whatever is done or decided in one State shall be respected in every other State when properly proved before it. It is one feature of the general idea which is found all through the Constitution.
The case afterwards came on in 7 Wall. upon the further question whether the laws of Illinois were such as to give Green a right to that proceeding, and the court held that they were; that the attachment, judgment and sale in Illinois were valid, and that the state courts of New York were bound to give them effect in the proceeding of Van Buskirk v. Green.
The only difference between that case and the one now under consideration is, that at the time the court in Massachusetts intervened and undertook to prevent Butler, Hayden & Co. from pursuing their case in the courts of New York, there had been no judgment in favor of that company. But I am at a loss to see why the right established by Butler, Hayden & Co. in the courts of New York is not as much to be respected and
MR. JUSTICE BREWER, not having been a member of the court when this case was considered, took no part in its decision.