OpenJurist

27 US 243 John Ritchie v. Philip Mauro and Joseph Forrest

27 U.S. 243

2 Pet. 243

7 L.Ed. 411

JOHN T. RITCHIE, APPELLANT
v.
PHILIP MAURO AND JOSEPH FORREST, APPELLEES.

January Term, 1829

THIS was an appeal from the circuit court of the county of Washington; in which court the proceedings of the orphans' court of that county, appointing a guardian to the estate of a minor, had been reversed on appeal, and the court had proceeded to pass such a decree as it adjudged the orphans' court should have passed. From this decree of the circuit court, the appellant came before this Court, and he sought to sustain the decision of the orphans' court.

The appellant, under an order of the orphans' court, had been appointed the guardian of John W. Ott; and had, in pursuance of the same order, entered into a bond, as guardian of the said John W. Ott, in the penal sum of $10,000, with sureties.

The case was argued upon the whole of the matter contained in the decree, by Mr C. C. Lee and Mr Chambers, for the appellant; and by Mr Bradley for the appellees. As the Court did not decide but upon one of the points in the case presented by the counsel, the arguments upon the others are omitted.

An objection was made by the counsel of the appellees, that the amount in controversy was not sufficient to authorise an appeal from the circuit court of Washington county to this Court. The whole question to be decided on this appeal was, whether the appellant of the appellees were legally entitled to the guardianship of the person and estate of John W. Ott, a minor; whose estate, it was admitted, was of considerable value. It was also admitted, that neither the appellant nor the appellees had any interest in the estate, except that which would be obtained from the compensation they might derive for their labours and responsibilities, as guardians of the minor.

The counsel for the appellant contended, that the right of appeal was complete, as the property which would come into the hands of the guardian exceeded two thousand dollars; and the bond given by him, by order of the orphans' court, was in the sum of ten thousand dollars.

The law is well settled, that a trustee may appeal when the property under his charge is of sufficient amount, although he has no interest whatever in the trust estate. A guardian is a trustee, and should be considered in the same relations to the property of his ward.

Mr Bradley, for the appellees, submitted the question of the right of appeal to the Court, presenting only the suggestion that the pecuniary benefit of the appellant from the estate, could not, under any circumstances, amount to one thousand dollars. Whatever claims on the estate of his ward the appellant might have, for services to be rendered hereafter; in the state of things at the time of the appeal, as he had never acted as guardian, he had no pecuniary claims whatsoever.

Mr Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

1

In the present case, a majority of the Court are of opinion that this Court has no jurisdiction in the case; the value in controversy not being sufficient to entitle the party by law to claim an appeal. The value is not the value of the minor's estate, but the value of the office of guardian. The present is a controversy merely between persons claiming adversely as guardians, having no distinct interest of their own. The office of guardian is of no value; except so far as it affords a compensation for labour and services thereafter to be earned.