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Revised Statutes, $ 3477,-a nullity as between him and the claimant. No question arose in that case as to what would have been the effect upon the rights of the claimant had the officers of the government recognized the assignment to Spofford. In Erwin v. U. S. 97 U. S. 392, it was ruled that the act of 1853 applied to cases of voluntary assignments of demands against the government, and did not embrace cases where the title is transferred by operation of law.
“ ing of claims to heirs, devisees, or assignees in bankruptcy,” said the court, “are not within the evil at which the statute aimed.”
But what was said in Goodman v. Niblack, 102 U. S. 559, seems to be more directly in point. That was the case of a voluntary assignment by a debtor of his property for the benefit of creditors, including his rights, credits, effects, and estate of every description. The assignment embraced a claim of the assignor arising under a contract with the United States. It was adjudged in the court of original jurisdiction that, as to that claim, the assignment was rendered invalid by the act of 1853. But the language of this court, speaking by Mr. Justice MILLER, was:
" It is understood that the circuit court sustained the demurrer under the pressure of the strong language of the opinion in Spofford v. Kirk. We do not think, bowever, that the circumstances of the present case bring it within the one then under consideration, or the principles there laid down. That was a case of the transfer or assignment of a part of a disputed claim, then in controversy, and it was clearly within all the mischiefs designed to be reinedied by the statute. Those mischiefs, as laid down in that opinion, and in the others referred to, are mainly two: (1) The danger that the rights of the government might be embarrassed by having to deal with several persons instead of one, and by the introduction of a party who was a stranger to the original transaction; (2) that by a transfer of such a claim against the government to one or more persons not originally interested in it, the way might be conveniently opened to such improper influences in prosecuting the claim before the departments, the courts, or the congress, as desperate cases, where the reward is contingent on success, so often suggest.”
“But these considerations,” the court proceeded to say, “as well as a careful examination of the statute, leave no doubt that its sole purpose was to protect the government and not the parties to the assignment.”
These cases show that the statutes in question are not to be interpreted according to the literal acceptation of the words used. They show that there may be assignments or transfers of claims against the government which are not forbidden.
In the case before us no question arises as to the transfer or assignment of a claim against the government. The question is whether payment to one, who has been authorized to receive it, by the power of attorney executed before the allowance of the claim by the act of congress, was good as between the government and the claimant, where, at the time of payment,'such power of attorney was unrevoked. If, in respect of transfers or assignments of claims, the purpose of the statute, as ruled in Goodman v. Niblack, was to protect the government, not the claimant in his dealings with the government, it is difficult to perceive upon what ground it could be held that the statutory inhibition upon powers of attorney in advance of the allowance of the claim and the issuing of the warrant, can be used to compel a second payment after the amount thereof has been paid to the person authorized by the claimant to receive it. A mere power of attorney given before the warrant is issued—so long, at least, as it is unexecuted—may undoubtedly be treated by the claimant as absolutely null and void in any contest between him and his attorney in fact. And it may be so regarded by the officers of the government whose duty it is to adjust the claim and issue a warrant for its amount. But if those officers chose to make payment to the person whom the claimant, by formal power of attorney, has acoredited to them, as authorized to receive payment, the claimant cannot be permitted to make his own disregard of the statute the basis for impeaching the settlement had with his agent. To hold otherwise would be inconsistent with the ruling heretofore made—and with which, upon consideration, we are entirely satisfied—that the purpose of congress, by the enactments in question, was to protect the government against frauds upon the part of claimants and those who might become interested with them in the prosecution of claims, whether before congress or the several departments.
The title of the act of 1853 suggests this purpose. It is to prevent frauds upon the treasury. An effectual means to that end was to authorize the officers of the government to disregard any assignment or transfer of a claim, or any power of attorney to collect it, unless made or executed after the allowance of the claim, the ascertainment of the amount due thereon, and the issuing of the warrant for the payment thereof. Other sections of the statute—those forbidding of ficers of the government and members of congress from prosecuting or becoming interested in claims against the government, and those punishing the bribery or undue influencing of such officers or members-sustain the view that what was in the mind of congress was to protect the government in the matter of claims against it. But if the protection of claimants was at all in the mind of congress when passing the acts of 1846 and 1853, it is quite certain that the courts should not, to the injury of the government, extend that protection to those who elected not to avail themselves of the provisions of those statutes. Here it is not denied that the power of attorney executed in 1869 embraces and was intended to embrace the claims arising out of the decree of 1868, from whatever source the money in satisfaction of it might be derived. Nor is it pretended that such power of attorney had been revoked prior to the adjustment and pay. ment of the claims in question.
It seems to us—looking at the mischiefs intended to be remedied by these statutes and giving the words of congress a reasonable interpretation—that the officers of the treasury were at liberty, as be
tween the government and the claimants, to recognize the unrevoked authority which the latter bad given to Godeffroy, without restriction as to time, to receive from any one whom it might concern to pay all sums of money due or to become due and payable on account of the seizure of the vessel Labuna.
The judgment must therefore be affirmed. It is so ordered.
(109 U. 8. 258)
UNITED STATES, to the use, etc., o. WALKER.
(November 19, 1883.)
ESTATES OF DECEDENTS-ACTION ON ADMINISTRATOR'S BOND IN DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-ORDER OF JUSTICE OF SUPREME COURT DIRECTING MONEY COLLECTED TO BE PAID TO ADMINISTRATOR DE BONIS
NON-JURISDICTION-REV. Sr. | 976.
An administrator de bonis non, in the District of Columbia, cannot maintain an ac
tion on the bond of the principal administrator to recover money collected by him from the United States on a claim belonging to the estate of the decedent
and not paid over or accounted for. A justice of the supreme court of the District of Columbia has no authority, under
section 976 of the Revised Statutes, relating to the District of Columbia, to pass an order directing an administrator, who has been removed, to pay over to his successor the proceeds of a debt due the decedent which he has collected, as such proceeds are not assets or estate of the decedent; and as such an order is not within the jurisdiction of the court, it is void and not conclusive in an action on the administrator's bond to recover the money so collected.
In Error to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.
This was an action at law on an administrator's bond. The bond was made by Charlotte L. Ames and Cunningham Hazlett, as administrators of the estate of Horatio L. Ames, deceased, with Frederick P. Sawyer and the defendant in error, David Walker, sureties. It was in a penalty of $120,000, was payable to the United States, and was subject to the condition that the said Ames and Hazlett should well and truly perform the office of administrators of Horatio Ames, deceased, and discharge the duties of them required as such without any injury to any person interested in the faithful performance of said office. Hazlett died at a date not given, and after his death and until January 9, 1875, Charlotte L. Ames continued to be sole administratrix, and on the day last named she was removed from said office by order of a justice of the supreme court of the District of Columbia, and on the same day Nathaniel Wilson was appointed administrator de bonis non. On January 22, 1876, Charlotte L. Ames, in the settlement of her account as administratrix, was directed by the decree of a justice of said supreme court, holding a special term for the transaction of orphans' court business, to pay over to said Nathaniel Wilson, administrator de bonis non of the estate of Horatio
Ames, deceased, on or before February 8, 1876, the sum of $34,876.75. She failing to pay this sum or any part of it, Wilson, administrator de bonis non, on April 12, 1876, brought this suit in the name of the United States for his use, on the bond above mentioned, against Charlotte L. Ames, David Walker, and the administrators of the estate of Frederick P. Sawyer, who, on August 31, 1875, had departed this life. The suit was afterwards discontinued as to Charlotte L. Ames and the administrators of Sawyer, and was prosecuted against David Walker alone.
The declaration contained two counts. The first count set out the obligation of the bond without stating the condition. The second count stated the obligation of the bond and averred the condition as above set forth, and assigned as breach the failure of Charlotte L. Ames to pay over to Wilson, the administrator de bonis non, the said sum of $34,876.75.
The defendant pleaded to the first count the condition of the bond and its performance. To the second count he pleaded, first, "that by the condition of the bond the defendant, as surety, became liable to the plaintiff, as administrator de bonis non, only for such of the assets of the estate as had not been converted into money by the said administrators or the survivor, and the defendant says that the assets of said estate consisted wholly of a claim or chose in action owing by the government of the United States, and that the money claimed in this action is the proceeds of said claim or chose in action collected from the government, and thereby converted into money," etc. The second plea to the second count averred that the defendant, as surety as aforesaid, was liable only for such assets of said estate as had not been administered by said administrators or the survivor, and that the money claimed in this action is for assets which had been administered before the removal of said surviving administrator from office, and the appointment of plaintiff. Both these pleas also aver that defendant was not a party to the proceeding in which the order to pay over was made and was served with process therein, nor did he voluntarily appear.
In his replication to the first plea (the plea of condition performed) the plaintiff set out three breaches, each of them consisting in the failure of the administratrix to pay over the money to her successor in compliance with an order of the court. The plaintiff demurred to the remaining pleas. The defendant demurred to the replication to the first plea. Issue was joined on both demurrers, and the court, in general term, overruled the plaintiff's demurrer, sustained that filed by the defendant, and entered judgment for the defendant. The plaintiff thereupon sued out this writ of error.
A. S. Worthington, for plaintiff in error.
Woods, J. The first question presented by the record is whether it was competent for the administrator de bonis non of the estate of
Ames to sue on the bond of the principal administrator to recover money collected by him from the United States and not paid over or accounted for. It is well settled at common law that "the title of an administrator de bonis non extends only to the goods and personal estate, such as leases for years, household goods, etc., which remain in specie and were not administered by the first executor or administrator, as also to all debts due and owing to the testator or intestate. Bac. Abr. tit. “Executors and Administrators, B 2, 2;" citing Packman's Case, 6 Coke, 19.
In illustration of this rule the same authority says:
“It is holden that if an executor receives money in right of the testator, and lays it up by itself and dies intestate, that this money sball go to the administrator de bonis non, being as easily distinguished as part of the testator's effects, as goods in specie. But if X. dies intestate, and his son takes out administration to him and receives part of a debt, being rent arrear to the intestate, and accepts a promissory note for the residue, and then dies intestate, this acceptance of the note is such an alteration of the property as vests it in the son; and therefore, on his death, it shall go to his administrator, and not to the administrator de bonis non."
An administrator de bonis non derives his title from the deceased, and not from the former executor or administrator. To him is com. mitted only the administration of the goods, chattels, and credits of the deceased which have not been administered. He is entitled to all the goods and personal estate which remain in specie. Money received by the former executor or administrator, in his character as such, and kept by itself, will be so regarded; but if mixed with the administrator's own money, it is considered as connected, or as, technically speaking, "administered.” Beall v. New Mexico, 16 Wall. 535; Wernick's Adm'y v. McMurdo, 5 Rand. 51; Bank of Penn. v. Haldeman, 1 Pen. & W. 161; Kendall v. Lee and Potts v. Smith, 3 Rawle, 361; Bell v. Speight, 11 Humph. 451; Swink's Adm'r v. Snodgrass, 17 Ala. 653; Slaughter v. Froman, 5 T. B. Mon. 19; Gamble v. Hamilton, 7 Mo. 469; Wiggin v. Swett, 6 Metc. 194; State V. Johnson, 7 Blackf. 529.
In the case of Beall v. New Mexico, supra, it was said by Mr. Justice BRADLEY, speaking for this court, that "by the English law, as administered by the ecclesiastical courts, the administrator who is displaced, or the representative of a deceased administrator or executor intestate, are required to account directly to the persons beneficially interested in the estate,-distributees, next of kin, or creditors, – and the accounting may be made or enforced in the probate court, which is the proper court to supervise the conduct of administrators and executors. To the administrator de bonis non is committed only the administration of the goods, chattels, and credits of the deceased which have not been administered."
• Such was the law of Maryland before the organization of the District of Columbia, and such it continues to be in the district, unless changed by statute. In the case of Hagthorp v. Hook's Adm’rs, 1 Gill