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Opinion of the Court.
The defendant moved for a new trial for “insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict and findings,” as well as
errors in law, occurring at the trial, and excepted to." Upon this motion, the defendant filed a statement, wbich was certified by the judge as “the statement of the case,” and contained parts of the testimony given and offered at the trial, and exceptions of the defendant to its admission or exclusion; instructions given to the jury and excepted to by the defendant; and a specification of twenty-one errors, touching the rulings upon evidence and the instructions to the jury, and the sufficiency of the evidence in the case and the findings of the jury to support the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The defendant's motion for a new trial was overruled; and the defendant excepted to the ruling, and appealed “ from the judgment and decree of foreclosure and sale” to the Supreme Court of the Territory, which adjudged “that the judgment of the court below be affirmed, and that the decree for foreclosure of mechanic's lien be modified so as that the lien shall hold only for the judgment, less the protest damages.” 10 Pacific Reporter, 620. The defendant claimed an appeal, and sued out a writ of error.
In order to give this court jurisdiction of an appeal or writ of error, "an authenticated transcript of the record ” of the court below must doubtless be filed in this court at the return term. Rev. Stat. $ 997; Edmonson v. Bloomshire, 7 Wall. 306.
In the case before us, a motion to dismiss is now made, on the ground that the record is not authenticated, because neither the clerk nor the deputy clerk made the return “under his hand,” as well as under the seal of the court, as required by Rule 8 of this court.
In support of this motion, reliance is placed on Blitz v. Brown, 7 Wall. 693, in which the only certificate of authentication was a blank form, wanting both the seal of the court below and the signature of the clerk, so that there was really no authentication whatever; and this court therefore dismissed the writ of error, but permitted the plaintiff in error
Opinion of the Court.
to withdraw the record for the purpose of suing out a new writ.
But in the case at bar the certificate not only begins with setting out the name and office of the clerk as the maker of the certificate, but has appended to it the seal of the court, and lacks only the clerk's signature to make it conform to the best precedents. The question presented is not one of no authentication, but of irregular or imperfect authentication; not of jurisdiction, but of practice. It is therefore within the discretion of this court to allow the defect to be supplied. Considering that the motion to dismiss was not made until it was too late to take a new appeal or writ of error, justice requires that the record should be permitted to be withdrawn for the purpose of having the certificate of authentication perfected by adding the signature of the clerk.
In Idaho, as in other Territories, there is but one form of civil action, in which either legal or equitable remedies, or both, may be administered, through the intervention of a jury, or by the court itself, according to the nature of the relief sought, provided, however, that no party can be "deprived of the right of trial by jury in cases cognizable at common law.” Rev. Stat. § 1868; Act of Congress of April 7, 1874, c. 80, $ 1, 18 Stat. 27; Idaho Code of Civil Procedure of 1881, SS 138, 139, 230, 309, 353; Ely v. New Mexico Railroad, 129 U. S. 291.
Congress has prescribed that the appellate jurisdiction of this court over “judgments and decrees” of the Territorial courts, “in cases of trial by jury shall be exercised by writ of error, and in all other cases by appeal ;” and “on appeal, instead of the evidence at large, a statement of the facts of the case in the nature of a special verdict, and also the rulings of the court on the admission or rejection of evidence when excepted to, shall be made and certified by the court below," and transmitted to this court with the transcript of the record. Act of April 7, 1874, c. 80, $ 2, 18 Stat. 27, 28.
The necessary effect of this enactment is that no judgment or decree of the highest court of a Territory can be reviewed by this court in matter of fact, but only in matter of law. As observed by Chief Justice Waite, “ We are not to consider the
Opinion of the Court.
testimony in any case. Upon a writ of error, we are confined to the bill of exceptions, or questions of law otherwise presented by the record; and upon an appeal, to the statement of facts and rulings certified by the court below. The facts set forth in the statement which must come up with the appeal are conclusive on us." Hecht v. Boughton, 105 U. S. 235, 236.
The provision of this act, permitting a writ of error “ in cases of trial by jury” only, evidently has regard to a trial by jury, as in an action at common law, in which there is and must be a trial by jury, and the court is not authorized to try and determine the facts for itself, unless a jury is waived by the parties according to statute; and has no application to a trial of special issues submitted to a jury in a proceeding in the nature of a suit in equity, not as a matter of right, or to settle the issues of fact, but at the discretion of the court, and simply to inform its conscience, and to aid it in making up its own judgment upon the facts, and the real trial of the facts is by the court and not by a jury. In all proceedings in the Territorial courts in the nature of suits in equity, therefore, as well as in those proceedings in the nature of actions at common law in which no trial by jury is had, (either because a jury has been duly waived, or because the issues tried are issues of law only,) the appellate jurisdiction of this court must be invoked by appeal, and not by writ of error. Davis v. Alvord, 94 U. S. 545; Davis v. Fredericks, 104 U. S. 618; Story v. Black, 119 U. S. 235.
It must also be borne in mind that, as already seen, in either class of cases, whether equitable or legal, coming up by appeal from a Territorial court after a hearing or trial on the facts, the evidence at large cannot be brought up, (as it is in cases in equity from the Circuit Courts of the United States,) but only "a statement of facts in the nature of a special verdict,” and rulings made at the trial, and duly excepted to, on the admission or rejection of evidence. Consequently the authority of this court, on appeal from a Territorial court, is limited to determining whether the court's findings of fact support its judgment or decree, and whether there is any error in rulings,
Opinion of the Court.
duly excepted to, on the admission or rejection of evidence; and does not extend to a consideration of the weight of evidence, or its sufficiency to support the conclusions of the court. Stringfellow v. Cain, 99 U. S. 610; Cannon v. Pratt, 99 U. S. 619; Neslin v. Wells, 104 U. S. 428; Hecht v. Boughton, 105 U. S. 235, 236; Gray v. Ilowe, 108 U. S. 12; Eilers v. Boatman, 111 U. S. 356; Zeckendorf v. Johnson, 123 U. S. 617.
The present suit was brought to enforce a mechanic's lien created by the statutes of the Territory, which authorize the court in such a suit to order both a sale of the real estate that is subject to the lien, and judgment against the owner thereof for
any deficiency in the proceeds of the sale, “in like manner and with like effect as in actions for the foreclosure of mortgages.” Idaho Code of Civil Procedure, SS 815, 826. The relief provided for in those statutes, sought by the complaint, and granted by the court, was purely equitable, and the proceeding was in the nature of a suit in equity. Canal Co. v. Gordon, 6 Wall. 561; Davis v. Alvord, 94 U.S. 545; Brewster v. Wakefield, 22 How. 118, 128; Walker v. Dreville, 12 Wall. 440; Marin v. Lalley, 17 Wall. 14; Rule 92 in Equity.
The district court so treated the case, as is evident from its having made its own findings of fact on some of the questions at issue, and having based its decree, not upon the findings of the jury, but upon the proofs produced at the final hearing neither of which would it have been authorized to do, had the suit been in the nature of an action at common law, the parties not having waived a trial by jury. Morgan v. Gay, 19 Wall. 81; Hodges v. Easton, 106 U. S. 408; Baylies v. Travellers? Ins. Co., 113 U. S. 316; Act of Congress of April 7, 1874, c. 80, 81, 18 Stat. 27; Idaho Code of Civil Procedure, SS 361, 389.
The writ of error must therefore be dismissed, and the case considered as pending upon the appeal alone. Stringfellow v. Cain, 99 U. S. 610, 612.
The case being one of equitable jurisdiction only, the court was not bound to submit any issue of fact to the jury, and, having done so, was at liberty to disregard the verdict and findings of the jury, either by setting them or any of them
Opinion of the Court.
aside, or by letting them stand, and allowing them more or less weight in its final hearing and decree, according to its own view of the evidence in the cause. By the settled course of decision in this court, it is not necessary that a court of equity should formally set aside the verdict or finding of a jury, before proceeding to enter a decree which does not conform to it. Prout v. Roby, 15 Wall. 471, 475; Basey v. Gallagher, 20 Wall. 670; Garsed v. Beall, 92 U. S. 684, 695 ; Johnson v. Harmon, 94 U. S. 371, 372; Watt v. Starke, 101 U. S. 247, 252; Quinby v. Conlan, 104 U. S. 420, 424; Wilson v. Riddle, 123 U. S. 608, 615.
The case of Basey v. Gallagher, just cited, is quite analogous to the case at bar. In a suit brought in a district court of the Territory of Montana for an injunction against the diversion of a running stream in which the plaintiff asserted a right by prior appropriation for the purpose of irrigation, the court submitted specific issues to a jury, and afterwards heard the case upon the pleadings and proofs and the findings of the jury, and rendered a decree for the plaintiffs, in which it disregarded some of those findings and adopted others; and that decree was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the Territory, and by this court on appeal, notwithstanding a provision in the statutes of that Territory, (similar to 9 361 of the Idaho Code of Civil Procedure,) that in civil actions “an issue of fact must be tried by a jury, unless a jury trial is waived."
The action of the district court of the Territory of Idaho, therefore, in setting aside the general verdict, and substituting its own findings of fact for the special findings of the jury, was a lawful exercise of its equitable jurisdiction, the propriety of which cannot be reviewed by this court; and it is quite immaterial whether the general verdict was consistent with the findings of the jury, or with the evidence introduced at the trial.
The only other matters specified or argued in the brief of the ppellant are two exceptions to the admission or rejection of evidence.
The first exception was to the admission of evidence, offered by the plaintiffs, tending to show that by the direction and with the consent of one Case, the defendant's vice-president