4 US 303 Commonwealth v. Matlack
4 U.S. 303
4 Dall. 303
1 L.Ed. 843
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
September Term, 1804
THE defendant had been clerk of the Senate; and in that character received 900 dollars, as a fund to defray the contingent expenses of the house, during several sessions. The Committee of accounts called upon him for a settlement; but he declined exhibiting his vouchers, unless they would allow him a certain retrospective compensation, to which he contended that he was entitled, under an act passed on the 22d of April 1794. The Senate thereupon directed the comptroller to institute the present suit. Upon the trial, the defendant proved, that he had expended considerably more money, than he had received, for the use of the house; and he claimed a verdict for the amount of his advances, as well as for the additional compensation allowed by the act of 1794.
But, after argument, the COURT declared, that the defendant could not indirectly recover from the state, a substantive, independent, claim by way of set-off, any more than he could directly recover a debt due from the state, by bringing a suit against her. That the present action was brought to compel an account for money received for the use of the Senate; in which the defendant, if he proved, that the money received was so applied, would be entitled to a verdict; but that even then, he could not be entitled to a verdict for the amount of his advances; which the Senate alone was competent to allow.
Verdict, generally, for the defendant.
M'Kean, attorney-general, for the commonwealth.
Dallas, for the defendant.