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Crane v. McCoy.
presented in behalf of L. Harding, who is a defendant in this bill, and who is the plaintiff in the last action of replevin brought in the Superior Court of Cincinnati to obtain possession of the property. These affidavits show a sale of the apples by D. Harper & Son to McCoy & Co. on the 14th of December last on terms set out in the affidavit of McCoy; and that on the 15th of December, Henry Harper, one of the firm of Harper & Son, for reasons which do not appear, notified McCoy & Co. that he would not abide by the agreement made on the preceding day for the sale of said apples. It also appears that there was a controversy as to the right of property, as between said Harper & Son, and said McCoy & Co.; the latter claiming a right thereto, and the former denying their right, and asserting property in themselves ; that while this controversy was pending, the sale of the apples was made by Harper & Son to Crane, and possession given, though the apples still remained in the warehouse of Harper & Son, on Walnut street; that on the 2d of January, McCoy & Co. sued out a writ of replevin from the Superior Court of Cincinnati, under which the sheriff took the apples, and delivered them to McCoy & Co., who gave a bond, as required by the statute, with J. W. Patrick and L. Harding as their sureties; that McCoy & Co. assigned to said Harding the sheriff's order on Harper & Son for the delivery of said apples; that on the 3d of January the complainant, Crane, sued out his writ of replevin from this court against said McCoy & Co., under which the marshal took the apples still remaining in the warehouse of Harper & Son, and upon the execution of a delivery bond by said Crane was attempting to deliver possession to Crane; that on the same day, January 3, the said Harding claiming possession under an assignment of the delivery order given by the sheriff to McCoy & Co., as already stated, sued out a replevin from the Superior Court of Cincinnati, in the service of which, by the sheriff, the difficulty or conflict, which will be hereafter noticed, occurred. And at this stage of the proceedings, the complainant, Crane,
Crane v. McCoy.
filed his bill, invoking the aid of this court as a court of chancery.
The defendants have filed their motion to dissolve the injunction, and to rescind the order for the appointment of a receiver. The grounds of this motion are substantially: 1. That the court had no jurisdiction to award an injunction, and appoint a receiver; 2. That there was neither in law nor in fact any conflict between the marshal and the sheriff, rendering the interposition of this court proper or necessary; 3. That the sheriff has lawfully a right of possession, as against the marshal and the complainant Crane.
In adverting to these grounds for dissolving this injunction, it will not be necessary, and perhaps would be improper, on this preliminary motion, to attempt minutely to consider all the facts presented to the court by the affidavits and exbibits in the case. The questions presented as to the title to this property will come more properly before the court on the final hearing, and can not now be satisfactorily settled on the ex parte evidence presented by the parties. If the judge, in the just exercises of his powers as a chancellor, had jurisdiction to make the order in question, and a case is made, which, prima facie, justified the allowance of an injunction, and the facts now before the court require, for the purposes of equity, that the injunction should not be dissolved, the present motion can not prevail.
If, as insisted by the defendant's counsel, the judge had no rightful jurisdiction to make the order in question, the injunction must be dissolved. The objection on this ground is that the complainant had an adequate remedy at law, in the action of replevin which was pending, or by an action of trespass against the plaintiff in the action of replevin, and the sheriff who executed the process, if they were wrong-doers. The sixteenth section of the judiciary act of 1789, 1 U. 8. Stat. 82, prohibits suits in equity where there is a plain, adequate, and complete remedy at law. The construction of this statute has frequently been under
Crane v. McCoy.
review by the Supreme Court of the United States. In the case of Boyce's Ex'rs v. Grundy, 3 Peters, 210, the court say, in reference to that section, that it had been often and uniformly held, “ that it is merely declaratory, making no alteration whatever in the rules of equity on the subject of legal remedy. It is not enough that there is a remedy at
a law; it must be plain and adequate; or, in other words, as practical and as efficient to the ends of justice, and its prompt administration, as the remedy in equity.” It will not be necessary to refer to other cases in that court, in which the sanie doctrine has been even more broadly recognized and asserted. It is not enough to defeat jurisdiction in equity, that there was a remedy at law. The remedy must be complete, prompt, and efficient. And it requires no argument to show, in reference to the case before the court, that the law did not afford such a remedy to the complainant. In the first place, without noticing specially all facts, it is clear that at the time the order for the injunction issued, a collision had occurred between the marshal and the sheriff. The marshal asserted his rightful possession of the property, and the sheriff insisted on his right to take it from his possession, under the process from the State court, and was prepared to enforce that right by the use of force, if necessary. Now collisions between the Federal and State authorities are always unpleasant, and greatly to be regretted, and, when possible, to be avoided. And, it seems to me, the complainant by resorting to the peaceful remedy of an injunction, and thus avoiding further, and possibly violent and bloody conflict, is entitled to commendation rather than censure, and has not thereby injured his standing in a court of equity. It is also clear, that a chancellor in the exercise of a just discretion, upon an application for an injunction, may properly take into consideration the existence of an actual conflict, or imminent danger of a violent collision between the two authorities, in determining the expediency of awarding this preventive process. And so, too,
. if the rights of a party can only be enforced at law by long
Crane v. McCoy.
continued, strenuous and expensive litigation, and those rights can be more promptly and efficiently asserted in equity, a stringent reason is offered for the application of its power. In reference to the controversy between these parties, it is obvious that there would have been much litigation at law, before their rights could have been finally settled; whereas, by a resort to a court of chancery, all necessary parties being brought in, the rights of all can be fully and satisfactorily adjusted.
But it is further insisted in support of the present motion, that this court had full power, as a court of law, to enforce its own process, and protect its officers in the execution of that process. There is no doubt of the existence of this power in this court. If its officer is obstructed or interfered with in the just exercise of his duties, the court may interpose and punish such unwarranted interference, as a contempt of its authority. But, for many obvions reasons, the exertion of this power is to be avoided, unless there is the most stringent necessity for it. And especially is this true, when the conflict of authority may involve the courts of the Union and the courts of a State in embarrassing and unpleasant collisions.
I will, however, pursue this subject no further. I am clear in the opinion, that in view of the facts of this case, as set forth in the complainants' bill, and as they appear from the affidavits and exhibits in the case, the order for the injunction was a proper exercise of a jurisdiction pertaining to a judge of this court, in the exercise of his powers as a chancellor. And in this connection, I may properly notice the fact, that his honor, Judge McLean, on one occasion within my recollection, strongly stated it as his opinion, that as a general rule in these conflicts of jurisdiction involving the right to the title and possession of property, the remedy afforded by a court of equity is greatly to be preferred to protracted and vexatious litigations at law.
The views thus presented, are upon the assumption that the marshal, at the time the sheriff attempted to serve
Crane v. McCoy.
the writ of replevin sued out by Harding against Crane and Sifford, was in the lawful possession of the property in question, and that the sheriff, therefore, had no right to seize it on the process in his hands; and that his attempt to seize it, under the circumstances referred to, and in view of the probable results of his action, presented a state of affairs rendering it proper and necessary for Crane to resort to chancery, and justifying the order of the court made in the case. It is insisted, however, by the counsel for the defendants, that there is nothing in the facts before the court from which the inference can be fairly drawn, that there was any actual conflict as between the marshal and the sheriff. It is argued, that the property, when the sheriff attempted to serve the writ of replevin sued out by Harding, was in the possession of Crane, and not of the marshal, and therefore subject to seizure by the sheriff under the writ in his hands. If this proposition is sustainable, it is clear the sheriff had a right to take the property, and the marshal was wrong in making any opposition to it. If, on the other hand, the property was legally in the possession of the marshal under the writ of replevin issued from this court in the case of Crane against Gould and McCoy, the sheriff had no right to disturb or in any way interfere with the marshal's possession. How stands the fact as to the possession of this property at the time the sheriff attempted to serve the writ of replevin? The return to the writ issued from this court, in the case of Crane against Gould and McCoy, sets forth, that the marshal by his deputy, pursuant to the command of the writ, took 1,174 barrels of apples, and caused them to be duly appraised; and having taken a delivery bond from the plaintiff, Crane, pursuant to the statute, he commenced the delivery of the property to him, and had delivered seventy-five barrels, when he was obstructed and prevented from delivering the other part by the interference of the sheriff of Hamilton county, and others. He then recites the fact that a receiver had been appointed by this court, who has in possession 1,099 barrels of the apples.