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JAMES RHODES, COMPLAINANT AND APPELLANT, v. WILLIAM B. FARMER

December 1, 1854

JAMES RHODES, COMPLAINANT AND APPELLANT,
v.
WILLIAM B. FARMER, WILLIAM FELLOWS, AND CORNELIUS FELLOWS.



THIS was an appeal from the district court of the United States, for the northern district of Mississippi. The facts in the case are stated in the opinion of the court. It was argued by Mr. Phillips, for the appellant, and by Mr. Bibb, for the appellee.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice McLEAN delivered the opinion of the court.

Mr. Phillips made the following points:––

A judgment creditor is entitled in equity to attach a debt due to the debtor. Bayard v. Hoffman, 4 John. C. 453; Egberts v. Pemberton, 7 Ib. 209; Hudson v. Plets, 11 Paige, 182; Candler v. Petit, 1 Ib. 170.

Parol evidence was inadmissible to contradict the assignment. It is conceded that the design was to invest the party with a 'legal title.' 1 Story's Eq. §§ 113-115; 6 Ves. 332; 1 Pet. 16; 3 Greenleaf's Ev. 368.

The evidence offered by defendant that his object was to enable Farmer to use the judgment as a set-off, while he remained the owner thereof, shows an attempt to commit a fraud upon the law. 1 Poth. on Obl. 415; Barb. on Set-off, 37, 58; 7 Cow. 469, 481; 1 Paige, 289.

The agreement set up is equally obnoxious to the charge of champerty. 2 Sims and Stu. 244; 15 Ves. 156; 2 Story's Eq. 1049.

The new agreement offered to be set up being in itself illegal, will not be admitted as an answer to the prayer of the bill. 7 Ves. 470; 2 Story's Eq. §§ 298, 305, 697.

As to costs, courts of equity are governed by 'general rules and former precedents;' and when a question of costs is connected with a substantial ground of appeal, the party may succeed with the former question though he fail with the latter. 2 Hagg. Ecc. Rep. 374; 4 Russel, 180.

This is an appeal in chancery, from the district court of the United States for the northern district of Mississippi.

Rhodes, the complainant, recovered two judgments, in 1850, against Sneed, Wright, James E. Farmer, and William B. Farmer, in the district court–one for the sum of $1,308.68, the other for $3,179.19–on which executions were issued and returned, nulla bona. Prior to this, W. and C. Fellows, in the name of McKewen, King, and Company, had recovered a judgment against James Strong and others, for $3,937.75, in the same court; and Strong, with the view of placing his property beyond the reach of the judgment, conveyed it to his wife. This conveyance, on an issue being made, under the practice of Mississippi, was set aside.

In the trial of the above issue, the complainant states it appeared in proof that William B. Farmer was the owner of the judgment against Strong and others, it having been assigned to him by W. and C. Fellows; and the complainant alleged that his judgment against Farmer, being unsatisfied, was a lien in equity upon the interest and claim of William B. Farmer, to the judgment assigned to him. And the complainant prayed that said judgment might be held by Farmer and W. and C. Fellows, subject to his judgments, and that they might be enjoined from paying it over, &c.

William B. Farmer, in his answer, admits that the judgments against him had been obtained, and that executions on them had been returned, nulla bona. He denies that the judgment against Strong was ever sold to him; but he states that, in 1848, being sued for a large debt, which he supposed to belong to Strong, and wishing to procure a set-off, he applied to W. and C. Fellows for the control of said judgment, offering to any them three fourths of the amount that he might realize of the judgment, should he be able to use it as a set-off, which was agreed to by them; and that he executed a penal bond, to pay to the said W. and C. Fellows three fourths of the amount so recovered on their judgment.

Defendant also states that the complainant received from James E. Farmer, a co-defendant, a sum of money, on the receipt of which he released the judgments; and the defendant submits, whether such release does not exonerate the other defendants.

He also states that he had made a verbal assignment of the judgment to William Cathron, as an attorney, for collection; and he submits whether the judgment can be made liable by the complainant to the satisfaction of his judgments. Other matters are set up in the ...


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