41 US 315 John Gibson Kinchen Martin v. Beverly Chew

41 U.S. 315

16 Pet. 315

10 L.Ed. 977

Plaintiffs in error,
BEVERLY CHEW, Defendant in error.

January Term, 1842

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Error to the Circuit Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. An action was instituted in the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of Mississippi, by Beverly Chew, a citizen of the state of Louisiana, against John A. Gibson and Kinchen A. Martin, citizens of the state of Louisiana. The action was brought to recover the amount of a promissory note drawn by John A. Gibson, in favor of, and indorsed by, Kinchen A. Martin, for $3500, and indorsed over to the plaintiff.


The declaration set out the promissory note, the maker and indorser of the same being included in the same writ, under the provisions of an act of the legislature of Mississippi; which had been adopted as a rule of practice in the circuit court, by order of the district judge holding the circuit court. The defendants appeared to the action, and having demurred to the plaintiff's declaration, filed the following causes of demurrer. 1. This court has no jurisdiction, the plaintiff, in his declaration, being the assignee of Kinchen A. Martin, who is a citizen of the same state with the maker of the note sued on, as declaration avers. 2. The declaration does not aver defendants to be residents of the southern district of Mississippi. The demurrer was overruled, and the defendants having refused to plead to the merits of the action, judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiff. The defendants prosecuted this writ of error.


The case was argued by Walker, for the plaintiffs in error; and by Key, for the defendants.


Walker, for plaintiffs in error, stated, that this was a suit against the maker and indorser of a promissory note, both being alleged in the declaration to be citizens of the state of Mississippi. Then, by the 11th section of the judiciary act of the 24th September 1789, no suit could be prosecuted in the court below against the maker of the note. It is said, a state law authorizes this proceeding; but no state law can repeal, or be intended to repeal, an act of congress limiting the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States. By the act of congress, the courts of the Union are expressly deprived of all jurisdiction in this case; and such jurisdiction cannot be conferred by a state law, especially, in direct opposition to an act of congress in full force and unrepealed.


Key, for the defendant in error.


WAYNE, Justice, delivered the opinion of the court.


This suit was brought in the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of Mississippi, by the defendant in error, as the indorsee of a promissory note, made in Mississippi, of which the plaintiff in error, Martin, was the payee, and the plaintiff, Gibson, the maker; both maker and payee being citizens of the state of Mississippi, when the note was made.

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The jurisdiction of the court is denied, and the plea should have been sustained in the court below, as the circuit courts of the United States have not cognisance of any suit to recover the contents of any promissory note or other chose in action, in favor of an assignee, unless a suit might have been prosecuted in such court, to recover the said contents, if no assignment had been made, except in cases of foreign bills of exchange. See the 11th section of the act to establish the judicial courts of the United States. (1 U. S. Stat. 78.) The judgment of the court below is reversed.


Judgment reversed.