31 US 170 Charles Dufau v. Jean Henry Couprey's Heirs

31 U.S. 170

6 Pet. 170

8 L.Ed. 359


January Term, 1832

ERROR to the district court of the eastern district of Louisiana.

Mr Livingston, for the plaintiff in error, stated that the record showed that the proceedings in the district court were according to the practice in Louisiana, and not according to the course of the common law. There were two issues and a denial of the debt; and this was tried by a jury; the other on an allegation of a former recovery. The latter was an issue at law, and could not be submitted to a jury; but was for the decision of the court.

But the decision of the jury was given in general terms, and it cannot therefore be ascertained but that they found their verdict on the plea of the former judgment, and not on the issue of fact. On an examination of the record, it will appear, that the former judgment did not decide the question between the parties.

Mr Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

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There were two pleas by the defendant: 1. That the defendant was not indebted to the plaintiff. 2. That the subject matter of the suit was res adjudicata. The former plea was triable by the jury; the latter by the court. There was a trial by the jury of the issue, and the jury found a verdict for the defendant. Upon the plea of 'res adjudicata' there does not appear to have been any replication or denial, so as to make any issue to the court. There is nothing on the record


This case was decided at January term 1831. to show that the question of res adjudicata was even submitted to the jury upon the trial. Their verdict, for aught that appeared on the record, was simply confined to the first and proper issue, triable by the jury. This issue being found for the defendant, the other plea became immaterial to the defendant. The court then cannot infer that it was ever tried. There is then no error apparent on the record, and the judgment is affirmed with costs.